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Re: Paul's Mailfrom (Was: IETF SMTP Working Group Proposal at

  • From: Barry Shein
  • Date: Tue Aug 27 17:45:46 2002

On August 27, 2002 at 03:15 (Paul Vixie) wrote:
 > >   Every single purely technical approach to stopping spam has been a
 > >   complete loser.
 > In the fullness of time, the universe itself will die of heat.  So what?

How come this makes me want to raise the issue of our immortal souls?

 > What matters more is what use is made of time before it gets so "full."  A
 > number of purely technical approaches to stopping spam have been quite
 > successful... in the short term... which not the same as being a complete
 > loser in the long term.  (Everything's a complete loser if you measure it
 > right.)

I guess my assertion has been that it really hasn't been measured and
the sense is that spam has always been rising either linearly or

Putting bomb-sniffing dogs at the security gates only to see them take
the planes with box-cutters is not my idea of "successful" even in the
short term.

So for example saying this or that filter appears to have repelled 1M
spam msgs per day doesn't really prove much unless one can say with
some (preferably mathematical) confidence that it's actually reduced
spam not just caused it to flow around the filter.

Put another way it'd be nice to know that a technical approach was
statistically superior to just shutting off SMTP for an hour per day
which would also block some amount of spam. Look! Not one single piece
of spam from 1AM-2AM (while we had our machinery all turned off.)

Maybe there is no technical solution, of any value, possible (at the
system / DoS level, not talking about individual approaches like

I'm quite serious.

I think it's sad to watch all this effort go into chasing technical
solution after technical solution for all these years by so many
bright people only to feel like it was all pretty much for naught.

About the only real value I've seen is that we can at least sort of
point at these efforts when some nihlist says "who is to say spam is
bad?" and respond, well, these people are going to all this trouble
(possibly futile) to stop it so I guess that's one bit of evidence
that it's not universally loved.

My point is that I think we really need to start focusing on solutions
which aren't primarily or solely technical.

One that keeps coming to mind is charging for all bulk commercial
e-mail as a regular custom for reasons I've outlined here previously.

But I don't claim that to be the only or even best solution.

It's just one that makes some sense to me.

And, more importantly, is an example of the kind of thing I'm thinking
so people don't always finish reading my notes by shaking their heads
and saying ``gosh he writes pretty well but WTF is he talking

        -Barry Shein

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