Archived Blog Post: June 13, 2005

Matt Blumberg points to an article about overreacting to spam. I found two things interesting about the article.

First, it completely misses the point. McCloskey complains, "In the name of keeping us free of viagra ads in our inbox, we have crippled the most efficient communications system ever developed," as if that were the issue. I receive on the order of 10-30 legitimate messages a day. I receive approximately 15 times as much junk mail as legitimate mail, and that's after deleting the more egregious violations before they hit my mail spool. The problem is not one of keeping viagra ads out of my mailbox, the problem is one of being able to find the mail in my mailbox to start with.

Second, in order to read this article I had to sign up for MediaPost, and MediaPost then sent me something like 10 "newsletter" messages over the course of the day. I suspect that the signup had some method for opting out of the newsletters, but it wasn't obvious from the UI. Each of the newsletters had an unsubscribe link, but it only worked for that specific newsletter. In the fine print was a link to unsubscribe from the page-and-a-half list of newsletters I was subscribed to by signing up. So in order to read a message about how the junk mail problem isn't that bad I had to unknowingly sign up to receive around 1-3 times as much garbage mail as the amount of legitimate mail I see per day.

The fox isn't guarding the henhouse -- it's writing editorials on the subject.

[bookmark]