Spam killing Email

Death by Spam – The e-mail you know and love is about to vanish is by Kevin Werbach. A third of emails sent today are spam. For many users, 90% of emails received are spam. What’s the solution. Here’s Kevin Werbach’s idea:

Instead of trying to block spam while allowing everything else, [sophisticated] users employ software that blocks everything except messages from already known, accepted senders. These systems, called “whitelists,” change e-mail from an open system to a closed one.

Whitelist applications available today include MailFrontier, ChoiceMail from DigiPortal, Vanquish, and the freeware Tagged Message Delivery Agent. There’s also a whitelist option built into Hotmail, known as the “exclusive” setting. Though it’s hidden in the preferences menu (click “Options,” then “Junk Mail Filter”), more than 10 percent of Hotmail users reportedly invoke it. Before long, expect all e-mail applications to offer this function.

Whitelists typically allow e-mail from everyone in a user’s existing address book. Other, unknown senders receive an automated reply, asking them to take further action, such as explain who they are. Or senders may be asked to identify a partially obscured image of a word. A person can make out the word, but automated spammer software can’t.

Whitelists are rare today, but they will become more common. The relentless growth of spam guarantees it. A filter that catches 80 percent of spam sounds great, and it is great if you get 10 spams a day. But when you get 500 a day, that same filter leaves you sorting through 100 opportunities to Make Money Fast!!!!!

Like it or not, the only way to kill spam is for an element of e-mail to die as well. There’s always been something charming and casual about e-mail. The informality comes through in the style people use to write messages, but also in where they send them. You’ve probably sent an e-mail to someone you’d never call on the phone, approach in person, or even write a letter to. Losing this aspect of e-mail is a shame, but it’s inevitable. E-mail will become more like instant messaging, with its defined “buddy lists.”

E-mail’s openness is doomed when faced with massive traffic and a few bad actors. The next time you try to reach out and touch someone electronically, you may need to know who that person is. Otherwise, you might be reaching out to no one.

A commentary by N.Z.Bear: “open e-mail will continue to exist because there’s just no real alternative. Web publishers and others have a burning need to allow people to contact them — and that means that one way or another, they’ll make their e-mail address available to those who want to find it.”

Slashdot thread

Personally, I have set up a few simple filters which have helped segragate email which has my email ID in the To: or cc: fields. This is still not good enough, but it has reduced clutter by at least 90%. I look at the other folder a couple of times a day and that’s more than good enough for now.


Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.