[thelist] The Spam Argument

Frank lists at frankmarion.com
Fri Jul 25 10:37:28 CDT 2003

At 07:48 AM 2003-07-25 -0700, you wrote:
>you guys are slowly dragging me into this!!!

Just to clarify my own position: I don't particularly care for spam. I have 
a hotmail dedicated as my spam trap. I've got layers of filters coming out 
of my butt, like most of us.  But in the end, life has taught me that 
there's more than one side of the coin, and that survival, then success 
means evaluating life's circumstance objectively. Though I don't care to 
receive spam, I won't bother working myself into a lather about it any 
more. It's a fact of life, and I just deal with it.

The purpose of bringing up the issue was to present the other side of the 
coin--It's an exploration to understand both sides equally. It's not until 
all sides are clearly understood that we'll ever find a solution to the 
problem. Right now, people treat it as a war, rather than a cooperative 
endeavour. As a technician caught in the middle, this affects me.

>your friend has arguments that are pretty much based on the fact that the
>costs of email are pretty much borne by someone else... when you or i or
>others send a moderate amoutn of email, it's not a big deal... you're
>willing to take the time to clean out your box, etc... there's a cost, but
>it's realtively small, so you don't complain....

She would say that she has to pay for the price of her own account, and the 
bandwidth consumed. She has to spend time managing clients, lists, bounces 
and removes plus the typical overhead of any other business. It's not free 
for her either--it is, however a lower cost than print.

>however, when someone starts to send massive (above some threshold) amounts
>of mail, the cost rises... and someone is still paying.. your friend is only
>able to do what she does, because part of her cost of doing business is
>being paid by someone else..

Sure, but isn't that true of everything? I have to pay for the hydro for 44 
minutes of commercial time per hour if I'm going to watch TV. The cost of 
sending radio and television signals aren't primarily technical costs, they 
are human costs--executives, managers, lawyers, (arguably) artists and so 
on. I paid $13 for a ticket to the movies yesterday, but was still exposed 
to 15 minutes worth of marketing before the show started. Newspapers get 
delivered because someone create road ways and automotive infrastructure. 
It's ALL one whole integrated system.

>a business could essentially dial up every known number and leave a
>recording... the reason they don't ..the cost would be borne by the
>business, making it difficult to really generate a profit this way... the
>same for regular mail..

Isn't one of the tenets of Capitalism "Profit! Profit! Profit!"? Judged by 
those rules, an accountant  could only applaud such a move. (Then again, is 
Capitalism really The One True Way?)

>and this is in reality perhaps a good thing.. make the cost to initiate the
>contact with the customer, be borne by the business, or at least have the
>custoemr be a willing contributor/participant to the experience... ie you
>have a store, i have to walk in the store... we're both sharing part of the
>cost of contact!!

She does have a cost-of-contact. It's just a lower price than TV. But the 
fundamental tenet of marketing is "Someone doesn't know about you/your 
service" bring it to their attention." In a society where competition is 
ruthless and vicious, some might say that UCE is the little guy's 
equaliser, it's the only way that Jane Doe can sell her snowman Christmas 
candles when Walmart is everywhere.

>ask your friend if she'd still spam if her costs of emailing where to rise
>by 10000%. she'd probably scream hell no!!...
>the fact that she wants to continue her dealings to support her kid is
>irrational and irrelavant from an economic point of view....
>so... the real reason that spam has flourished is due to the economic
>reality..it works for some people..for some things.. once a mechanism is put
>into place.to reduce/eliminate the economic motive..spam will become less of
>a problem...

Yes, this was the point of my previous post.

>two possible ways to accomplish this...
>allow you to "own" your email address... and allow you to sign up for a do
>not spam list. make it illegal for anyone to send "spam" to an address you
>"legally own"..make it leagal for companies to sue spammers based upon them
>sending you mail if you're registered to the spam list... in other words,
>set up a corresponding system where you as the little guy.. can essentially
>sue the spammer. but since you probably wouldn't sue, let another company do
>it for you..similar to class action lawsuits... and make the penalties
>high.. there are planty of companies who would sue..if there chance of
>recouping was reasonable...
>your friend would probably object..but hey..that's life!!

Sure, that's a start, but it gets sticky. Most people who send spam aren't 
wealthy. They are small people scrounging up a living. They are the 
desperate and pathetic suckers who get caught up in bad MLMs, or they are 
small time hustlers who are out trying to make a buck.  Some are scammers, 
others are technologically illiterate real estate agents who've been sold a 
line by someone selling ratware. There are, of course larger organisations 
who do spam as well, but she didn't educate me on the subject.

>the 2nd approach...
>raise the cost of doing email....by some 10000%..however, have a mechanism
>in place that says if yousend less than x/month..you don't pay...
>she'd probably scream here as well....

Sure she's scream. So would anyone having to pay anything more to do any 
business. That might even put thelist out of business.

The problem is not one of "bad people versus good people" it's one of every 
ant in this colony we call earth trying to get the best of life by whatever 
means they can. And unfortunately, we are trapped in a system with bankers, 
lawyers, legislators, crooks, suckers, smart people, dumb people, educated 
and illiterate, crusaders and the apathetic. How do we balance it out in 
The Real World? Certainly not by simply demonizing or ignoring the other 

I found my friend to be as dismissive of people who don't want to receive 
spam, as I find people tend to demonize those who send UCE. Neither sides 
are listening to, or acknowledging the other.

Frank Marion     lists at frankmarion.com      Keep the signal high.  

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