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Per message costs of email (was: Re: anybody else been spammed by"" yet?)

  • From: Scott A Crosby
  • Date: Sat May 04 16:38:37 2002


So far, other than Jared Mauch <>'s calculation where
he neither confirmed nor disputed $.02/email, I've yet to see *one*
quantified per-message price bandied about..

Are you also unsure of the per-message costs of email? I'd thought I'd
find *someone* who could quantify a cost.... I certainly don't know and
I want enlightenment too!

I'm surprised you can't quantify the per-message costs either.

On 4 May 2002, Paul Vixie wrote:
> > I do find it amusing that nobody responded to my more relevant and
> > intended thrust, about how putting a 'sender pays receiver for email'
> > could cause a variety of new abuses of the email system.
> on the one hand, you're right that any micropayment system would have
> to be very carefully thought out and even more carefully implemented,
> lest it open the door to many and varied forms of microabuse.

Leading to more subtle abuses...... or benefits?

Will we have arbitrage trading by sending email through an intermediary
for a lower fee.

Say, A charges $.03 email from B..
     A charges $.01 email from C..

C charges B $.025 per email and forwards it A. C spends $.005 in overhead
and keeps the $.010 difference as profit.

> on the other hand, that doesn't disprove the case, since even in your
> example it would merely cause people to become a LOT more careful about
> they mail they sent.  that CAN'T be a bad thing.

Apart from the balkanization of the lifeblood of the internet's
communication systes, there's things like viruses, worms, zombie
computers, etc.

There's also the transactional cost.. If a computer gets infected by a
worm, who pays for the email it sends out? Who pays for the argument of
who's responsible for the costs? Who's responsible for the tech support?

What if the user can't pay... Will ISP's have to insure themselves against
email worms? Will people with insecure email clients be subsidized by
those with more secure clients? Is that theft too?

> bill washburn's XNS effort, while nowhere near ready for critical review,
> shows some of the throught that needs to occur to make micropayments not
> be a bad deal for one or both parties. has an overview and
> goes so far as to say

Interesting.. Reading it over now. Thanks!

> > <trollishly>
> >
> > What do you guess for the amortized cost/spam?
> >
> > </trollishly>
> a cost that you are forced to pay in order to enrich somebody else is
> theft, no matter how microscopic the payment might be.  "we all know what
> (they) are, now we're just arguing about the price."

Its a cost of doing business. Its like restrooms in restraunts, a
necessary evil. You can try to minimize the costs and stop abuse.  But the
only way to avoid it is to leave the business entirely. Will you, like
Donald Knuth, be giving up your email address?

I'm still hoping somone out there can quantify those per-message costs of
email and spam.


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