Hands down, email is most widely used and loved computer application brought to life by Internet.
According to publication 'Messaging Today' (2000 Electronic Mailbox Report - Feb. 21, 2001), "Email is most successful communications technology since television, and in a few years will even surpass that. There are currently more than 891 million email accounts in use Worldwide and 440 million in U.S. alone - with an average of more than 4 email accounts per person."
While more than 200 million of us use and enjoy email, there are a few thousand people abusing system and damaging communication potential of email for rest of us.
SP^AMMERS ARE THE ENEMY OF US ALL!
The most common forms of email abuse are as follows:
- Using email harves^ters (software which gathers email addresses from Internet for purpose of sending sp^am messages). - Selling addresses gathered from an actual opt-in email list to someone who recipient did not give contact permission to personally. - Buying Mil^lions CD's and then requiring people to opt-out of email, rather than to opt-in to email. - Providing remove addresses that do not work.
Generally, persons using these sp^am techniques are morons who are simply too lazy to learn how to develop an honest online business or too impatient to build a business that will last a lifetime. Let us not forget that "moron" is key word here since a sp^ammers business will not generate enough income to justify cost of doing business outlaw way.
LAZY LIVES ON BOTH SIDES OF THE STREET!
Sp^ammers sp^am because they are too lazy to build an online business old-fashioned way --- with honesty and integrity.
As a result of sp^ammers obnoxious laziness, public has been confronted with growing nuisance of hundreds of sp^am messages in their email boxes on a daily basis! I have filtered more than 100 pieces per day to my trash bin, and I still receive another 200 plus messages per day that I have not set up filters for yet.
While I will admit that sp^ammers are truly annoying, I must confess that general public has created new problems for all of us! In war against sp^am, email account holders constantly suggest that their ISP's must deal with sp^am issue for them.
By putting responsibility of controlling sp^am on shoulders of ISP's, rather than hitting delete key ourselves, we have opened a whole new can of worms.
In truth, ISP's cannot do too much to stem tide of sp^am. Yet, with so many angry customers, ISP's felt a strong need to find some kind of solution to problem.
ISP's had one of two options:
- RBL (Realtime Blackhole List) http://mail-abuse.org/rbl/ - Installing Email Filters
Neither is a perfect solution to sp^am problem... In fact, both are actually very poor solutions to sp^am problem!
HOW SP^AM FILTERS WORK
To understand quandary created by use of filters in war against sp^am, we must first understand how sp^am filters work.
It is important to understand that filters are actually software applications.
Software is not intuitive!
While a few software applications may seem intuitive, illusion exists only because mind of programmer was able to foresee your desires for use of software.
Filtering software exists only as a set of rules to determine likelihood of a message being sp^am. Here is an outline of some of basic rules that sp^am filtering software follows:
1. If origination email server is different from email server of sender's default email address, then it is likely sp^am. 2. If email is delivered to more than 25 people, it is likely sp^am. 3. If email originates from a specific server, then it is likely sp^am. (This is only rule that RBL follows.) 4. If email originates from a specific country TLD (top-level domain), then it is likely sp^am. 5. If certain words appear in Subject or Email Body, then it is likely sp^am. (This is where real problems begin!)
THE PANDORA'S BOX OF THE SP^AM WARS
ISP's who choose filter option will either install a filter on incoming email only, outgoing email only or a combination of both.
With fifth basic rule in sp^am filtering software that most ISP's use, each ISP has a list of "sp^am words" that software scans for.
A few of simpler, more obvious "sp^am words" follow:
- H^GH - D^VD - C^asino - G^ambling - P^orn - M^illion - B^illion - V^iagra
The first time I had experienced ugly filter problem was with my first ezine. My ezine was a computer support publication and upon introduction of a major v^irus, I tried to send instructions to my list on how to identify v^irus and to repair its damage. Unfortunately, my list server had blocked all messages that mentioned name of virus. (Never mind that actual payload email never mentioned given name for v^irus!)
My second experience was in trying to send an article to a friend because I felt content of article was important for my friend to have. After seven attempts, I finally realized what blocked "sp^am word" was. If you can believe it, blocked word was Ama^zon.com !!!