Spam(last updated: 29/4/05 09:22 UTC)
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Summary

Spam is a disservice to humanity and those who send it should be punished severely.  By the way, if you need software to process spam, I highly suggest SpamBayes, an open-source Microsoft Outlook addin which uses advanced learning algorithms, which means it just keeps getting better at detecting spam messages.

An Example

Let's start with an example: a spammer sends out one million e-mails (very reasonable) and gets a 0.001% buy rate, as in 10 people actually buy the product being sold.  Assume that product sales net the spammer USD$10.00 (the spammer sends out more than one "e;mass" of spam per day).  Assume that 10% of those who receive the spam must remove it manually, and that deleting it requires 1 second.  This is a net time cost of 100,000 seconds of person-time wasted. This equates to over a day wasted.  This would equate to over three working days.  Assuming the numbers above are generous, this means spammers are making more than USD$0.36 per hour of your timeSpammers are literally stealing your time from you.

My Thoughts

I believe that theft of time should be punishable by very severe methods.  It is interesting to note that this actually applies to all forms of advertisement that do not serve some purpose other than pure advertisement (such as humor).  I value my and others' time and expect others to as well.  I would not object to forcing spammers to serve community service for a time determined by the lowest estimate of others' time that they have wasted with spam, or some multiple thereof.  So, if the numbers above are in fact reasonable, then for every e-mail sent that reaches one million people, the spammer would have to perform twenty four hours of community service.  While I really think that confirmed mass-spammers should be shot, I would settle for something less strong, like the above.  I do not care if spammers spam in order to feed their families; there are other jobs available that contribute to our economy, instead of parasitically sucking money from it.

I have never heard a strong argument for not punishing spammers.

What do you think?  Might you have any arguments?