Spam = Licence to the Lynch Mob

There is a hysterical lynch mob of Internet users gunning for anyone they deem to be "spamming". This is crazy and has downright dishonest motives and I'll explain why ...

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There is a hysterical lynch mob of Internet users gunning for anyone they deem to be "spamming". This is crazy and has downright dishonest motives and I'll explain why ...

Spam, it’s the scourge of the web!

Well to be accurate it isn't.

It might well be the scourge of email but the web isn't even structured in the right way to make spam a possibility and yet there is a hysterical lynch mob of users on the loose looking for anyone who might be "spamming". This is crazy and has downright dishonest motives and I'll explain why.

Spam is unsolicited email. It’s the sort of thing that pops into our email boxes every day offering things we didn't ask for. The repeated offers of slimming cures, viagra, and other dubious services give spam a bad taste, but we tend to forget when some email comes in offering us something that we do want that it is still spam but slightly sweeter tasting. Clearly we have a tendency to confuse spam, i.e. unsolicited email, with junk, i.e. unwanted email.

Now let's consider how this works in practice. Suppose a website wants you to sign up with a valid email before you are allowed to view some content or use some facility. You have been offered a deal and you can take it or leave it.

You might feel sore that the site demands your email in payment and it offends your belief that everything on the web should be free - but it is a very clear offer of a deal and you can take it or leave it.

However there are websites that provide dummy email addresses for you to use, valid for 10 minutes or so. They do the job but are useless after that. This is like paying with counterfeit money and is just as immoral if not as illegal.

The user generally justifies the ploy by saying that the site was "spamming them" - you can see that this is nonsense as no unsolicited email was generated. If anything the user is guilty of reverse spamming by supply a useless email in payment for goods and services rendered. But it's all justified as a legitimate to avoid spam and punish the evil spammer.

Moving on to consider the way social bookmarking and similar sites, Wikipedia for example, police what is posted. In most cases you can't self publicise your website - and if you do you are branded a spammer and removed. This is crazy because it is based on who posts something rather than what is posted.

If I post a link to a wonderful and relevant article but I own the site then it's spam, but if you do it with no association with the site it isn’t spam - but it is the same content.

This classification of spam is just a lazy way of policing what is posted to a listing site and does nothing for the overall quality of what is posted. All such referrals should be evaluating based on content not on who posted posts the link. That is they need editors - which brings me back to the loss of this particular function on the web which I've previously outlined.

The two principles of the web that most users subscribe to because they are cheap are that everything should be free and everything can be published. Combine these two with a misunderstanding of what spam is and you have nothing left but a cheap chaos with the righteous freedom to censor and steal.

 


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yet there is a hysterical lynch mob of users on the loose looking for anyone who might be "spamming". This is crazy and has downright dishonest motives and I'll explain why
Last Updated ( Thursday, 11 February 2010 )
 
 

   
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