Man, I'm sick to death of spam

One reason spam works, is that too many people are either gullible or greedy (and unfortunately, too many people are both). So, here's what I'm thinking: No matter what technological solutions the smart minds come up with, spammers are going to find ways to circumvent them. Why not make it less worthwhile for scammers by educating users about the ways they operate so that spamming is less effective?

ADT's parent company recently installed a fancy spam-eating machine that, honestly, does a so-so job of filtering spam. I still get enough spam in my inbox to fill a black hole. Sure, the spamminator nets some spam, but it also nets stuff I might want to receive. So, every few days, I get an e-mail that directs me to go to a Web page, where I can whitelist the e-mails I wish to receive, and delete the rest. That's pretty much what I'd been doing all along, before we got the spamminator. Now, it just takes longer. Some of the whitelist e-mails have been sitting who knows where for days before I get them. [P.R. people note: The spamminator eats press releases like a hungry beagle.]

I'm sure installing spam killers is how many enterprises are dealing with spam, but I can't see they will ever work all that well. The reason is that you still need someone with brain cells to figure out the difference between wheat and chaff (whatever that is).

Train users how to use the junk-mail filtering capabilities that come with their e-mail programs. Enhance the capabilities of their e-mail programs with one or two adaptive spam filters that users can tweak specifically for the work they do and the people they must interact with. Then explain to them that no one ever got rich sending money to Nigeria, that knock offs of V***** will not enhance their sex life, and most e-mails in foreign languages do not contain great secrets that will lead to a happy, richer or more fulfilling life and to stop wasting time with this stuff.

Getting users to stop being gullible or greedy is not going to stop the flood of spam, but I'll bet it will go a long way toward making spam less effective and worthwhile. Once that happens, we just might start getting less of it clogging up our mailboxes. Oh, throwing a lot more of those spam bums in jail would help too.

About the Author

Michael Alexander is editor-in-chief of Application Development Trends.