Heal Your Church WebSite


Teaching, rebuking, correcting & training in righteous web design.

Death by Spam

Kevin Werbach of The Slate writes “The e-mail you know and love is about to vanish.” He goes on to say “One-third of the 30 billion e-mails sent worldwide each day are spam. That’s 10 billion daily pitches for herbal Viagra, Nigerian scams, and genital-enlarging creams piling up in our inboxes. Neither legislation nor litigation against spammers has stemmed the tide, and they’re not going to have much of an effect in the future, either. It’s time to give up: Despite the best efforts of legislators, lawyers, and computer programmers, spam has won. Spam is killing e-mail.

I agree and disagree. spam is a problem. Its not like we haven’t talked about it ad nauseum on this site; in fact to the point of obfuscation. That said, I seriously doubt that Instant Messaging (IM) will subsume the ability to asynchronously exchange information. That is, email means that I can convey a thought, a document, a picture of my daughter and not have to worry that the individual is running a compatible IM app. on the other end at the same time I’m trying to IM’ them.

That said, the current volume spam is costing us all dearly. It costs us in bandwidth, it costs us in privacy. It costs us when one of our kids gets a hold of a tempting message hooks them into the bitter trap that that is pornography. Even more so for those of us running church web sites – who are in the business of trying to run a charity while maintaining a higher moral standard at a much lower cost than those who practice indiscriminate unsolicited bulk emailing. So what to do?

I think the answer here is to use a combination of programs that filter and/or mark-up incoming crud using a variety of clever algorithms and methods. For example, I’m about to couple MailWasher with SpamAssassin on our server, where the former wacks spam, the later which marks-up spam (so it can be later filtered). I’ll then instruct the staff and volunteers at RBC how to use filtering rules on their applications. For Outlook, I’ll suggest an ingenious p2p approach, CloudMark’s SpamNet. Similarly, I’ll encourage Mozilla users to employ its spam filtering capabilities.

Call it a suspenders, belt and glue approach to keeping our pants up, but unfortunately, so long as Spam Queens who will do anything for a buck are allowed to “rain” unabated, such measures … and perhaps some countermeasures … are necessary.

All this hand-waiving is also proof that many of us are not yet ready to give up the fight. Whatta you think? What are you doing to stem the flood? Or are you ready to throw in the towel?

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Eric Longman

  2. What am I doing? Not much. I have a throw-away account that I use when signing up for stuff on sites where I’m worried about spam. It gets a few hundred pieces per month. But, it’s so rare that I ever open that account & when I do, I’m looking for something specific just coming in. It’s easy enough to save what I’m looking for to a “saved” folder and then just delete the rest in a single batch.

    Other than that, I get very little spam. I get a lot more junk mail. (And, before you tell me junk mail doesn’t count because I don’t pay for it, I do pay for the garbage service for the people who have to haul it away.) Junk mail is a much bigger pain in my side than spam. And I don’t see the USPS dying any time soon.

  3. Besides Mailwasher, I have Postini (www.postini.com) working server side. Everything coming to the account that gets the most spam is filtered for junk and viruses, at most four a week pass, compared to the two a day that get caught, quarantined, and fed into Postini’s spaminator filters. But that one youhave to pay for.