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Fight spam with silly human tricks!
October 5, 2000 10:21 PM   Subscribe

Fight spam with silly human tricks! This service is built around a low rent Turing test. Anyone who is not already on your list of approved correspondents gets their message bounced back to them. If the poor sod can't pass a "fast and simple" challenge, their mail won't be passed on to you as they'll be presumed to be a spambot. I use Pine: I guess I'd fail. (Found via Webmonkey).
posted by maudlin (12 comments total)

 
Yeah, it's entirely too dependent on various factors that would eliminate me from ever being able to use it:

1. I get lots of mail from strangers who had to take the time and the nerve to send me mail in the first place. I do not want these people to think twice about their messages. I want to receive them.

2. Many people (including me) have their mail set to send on program shutdown. Thus, when the challenge comes back, they're logged off. The challenge languishes, the timeliness is lost, and the joy of fast email communication is corrupted.

3. I often read my mail off-line. If I have to download a graphic, then I have to connect. They could just as easily give a test that is entirely text-based. But...

4. The "challenge" allows them to give you a browser cookie. Thus you and all of your email correspondents are tracked, yet again, for web-browsing habits. Sigh.

5. I prefer to use a plain-text mail program as do many of my regular correspondents. The challenge will not work unless you can view HTML.

6. By taking a look at my spam, I've been able to assemble a set of keyword-based rules that catch 95 percent of my spam and store it in mailboxes. It works rather well. It is astonishing how consistent spammers are with their word usage, phrases and habits.
posted by Mo Nickels at 4:17 AM on October 6, 2000


Read over their privacy policy and you will discover that while they promise not to give out your e-mail address, they do promise that they will collect demographic information about you and they make no promises whatsoever about the privacy of the people who send you mail. In other words, they've left the door wide open to abuse of anyone who sends you mail.

posted by plinth at 5:43 AM on October 6, 2000


Clever idea, short-sighted implementation. I would fail this test, no question - I don't know how I would even know I was being given a test in the first place. Besides that, I don't think I'd bother to respond.

There are many, many ways to keep spam out of your mailbox, and they work a lot better than this company seems to think.

-Mars
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:00 PM on October 6, 2000


Mo: Can you provide a link to a list of your keyword-based rules? I think several of us would find that interesting, if not outright useful.
posted by waxpancake at 12:41 PM on October 6, 2000


My favorite part of the system is this:

How can I sign up for emails that meet my Interests?
With spam gone, you won't hear from marketers selling things you don't want. So you are free to tell us what you do want and we will pass along offers from great merchants that fit your interests - including discounts, sales, and more. Check it out on the Interests page.

So... ...basically, if I use them to block my spam, they will then gladly pass me their own? Ummm... ...thanks, guys!
posted by tsitzlar at 12:58 PM on October 6, 2000


well, that's a primary component of their business plan. they are hoping that it you are receiving no random spam, you'll be interested in receiving targeted advertising. it will be selected for you personally, and it won't be surrounded by the normal spam.

basically they're trying to make the internet safe for email marketing.

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 1:12 PM on October 6, 2000


Mo: Can you provide a link to a list of your keyword-based rules? I think several of us would find that interesting, if not outright useful.


Only if you can give me some bona fides that you are not a spammer. I have a feeling these people aren't bright enough to figure out what they're doing wrong without it being pointed out to them.
posted by Mo Nickels at 1:52 PM on October 6, 2000



>Only if you can give me some bona fides that you are not a spammer.

Argh. So close.
posted by ethmar at 2:07 PM on October 6, 2000


I've got a nit to pick in this conversation. Uknowingly, tsitzlar's stumbled across one of my numerous pet peeves. I'm a semantics-loving kinda guy, so I have just have to.

From The Jargon File - Spam:

5. To mass-mail unrequested identical or nearly-identical email messages, particularly those containing advertising. Especially used when the mail addresses have been culled from network traffic or databases without the consent of the recipients. [emphasis mine]

If you sign up to receive advertising email, it isn't spam, it's advertising. It's the only acceptable form of email advertising, and it can even be useful.

msgto.com appears to be using an opt-in methodology, which is a Good Thing.


posted by cCranium at 2:18 PM on October 6, 2000


cCranium--

Well, my take is it is still unrequested. If I want information, I'll go seek it out. I don't need someone shoveling it into my mailbox as fast as I can read it (for the record, I receive about 1,500 messages a *day*-- why do I want some advertising drivel adding to that figure?).

Look at it this way-- I don't tolerate people ringing my door bell to present me with some "personally selected" offer. Why do I want some company I don't know doing the same to my virtual doorbell? Especially when some of the things they send me actually activate my pager!!!

Anyway, if I don't know you and I receive an email from you, it was very much unrequested and therefore spam.

But then again, I have a unique way of looking at things. ;-)
posted by tsitzlar at 9:09 PM on October 6, 2000


Anyway, if I don't know you and I receive an email from you, it was very much unrequested and therefore spam.

But it IS requested, from these people. I mean, to get the advertising emails, you have to A) sign up for an account with them, and B) check off which "classification" of advertising you want to receive. Both of which are completely voluntary, you don't have to agree to receive advertisements to use the service.

But then again, I have a unique way of looking at things. ;-)

I don't really think you do. I mean, there may be many people who disagree, but I'm certainly not one of them. I can see how it's unrequested information about that specific product, and if that's your take then that's cool.

Of course, we're arguing semantics here, but it is ever-so-fun to do so. :-)
posted by cCranium at 6:14 PM on October 7, 2000


I filter mail based on use of numerals over 50,000, and use of adjectives faster than "FAST!!!!!!!!!"

None of my correspondents ever dream such big dreams.
posted by rschram at 6:05 PM on October 12, 2000


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