Unsubscribing from spam, part 2


Yesterday I posted about why the reasons a lot of people give for not unsubscribing from spam are mostly wrong. Unsubscribing from spam doesn’t seem to confirm your address and it doesn’t seem to increase your spam load.
But does that mean you should unsubscribe from spam? I’m not sure about that.
I’ve been working on a project where I am unsubscribing from every message coming into one of my email addresses. Weeks into that process I’m not seeing a huge decrease in the amount of mail that address is receiving. In some cases I’m unsubscribing from the same senders multiple times a day and have been for close to 3 weeks.
While unsubscribing doesn’t increase your spam, I’m also not sure it decreases your spam, either. But I’ll have full data and numbers demonstrating that in a few more weeks.
What can have an effect on the amount of spam you get is complaining about spam, at least according to Brian Krebs.

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  • Hmmm… I think there’s a disconnect here.
    There is such a thing as direct marketing. Now, I don’t want to be an apologist for the companies that send unsolicited commercial e-mail as a direct marketing tool, but simply put, the greater part of those that attempt to engage in this are easily blocked.
    There is a much more filthy world out there than your post acknowledges. To avoid being blocked, real spammers infect computers. Real spammers put a lot of effort into spreading infections by e-mail, meaning they are sending a lot of infectious stuff by e-mail. These days they do this mainly by infecting web sites and putting links into their e-mails. When they’ve stolen your computer in that fashion, they are now free to steal your passwords, your credit card numbers, etc. They use your computer for fraud, not for honest commerce. Your computer may become a web server for infecting others, or a web server for defrauding others. Their frauds include “advance fee” fraud, stock market manipulation, and false online sales web servers that invite people to enter their credit card numbers. They advertise cheap software, medications, etc., and deliver instead infections, unexpected credit card charges, etc. If you think spam problems are about real companies that advertise real products, you’re badly mistaken. Spam is about real crime that really injures people. Your post is a lot of naive drivel. Unsubscribe notices on spam are about giving you false confidence that the sender is legitimate. And, it’s about unscrupulous people in real positions of authority in real companies that are pulling their companies into the world of crime.

  • Leigh, your comment strikes me as saying how dare we care about this one thing, when there are worse things in the world. There are always worse things in the world. Not in dispute. I think your comments are condescending and out of place, personally. You have your focus, but that doesn’t mean nobody else can do good while having a slightly different focus. Otherwise, we could turn it around on you and say how dare you focus on this internet crime, when there are people getting murdered in the streets of Detroit right at this very time. Why aren’t you doing something about THAT?
    “Easily blocked”? Really? No, there are whole classes of commercial spammers that are not easily identified or blocked, even though they’re spamming.

  • I’m not sure what you think I wrote, but this comment doesn’t seem to really address what I said in the post.
    No, the post didn’t address the full depth and breadth of the spam problem. I’ve written over 1500 blog posts in the last 6 years and I haven’t even scratched the surface of the spam problem. In fact, I deliberately avoid speaking about much of the criminal end of spam (botnets and viruses and infections) because there are people out there who know a lot more than I do about it and it’s so blatantly “well, duh” that it’s not all that interesting to write about.
    On a personal level, I subscribe to the opinion that if I didn’t ask for the mail, then it is spam. It doesn’t matter if the sender is using illegal techniques or is selling enhancement drugs or is trying to invite me to join the AARP. If I didn’t request the mail, then it is spam.
    Yes there are different classes of spam, and different types of spammers. Botnet spammers are one problem, but they’re not the only problem with spam. Just because blocking works against one class of spam, doesn’t mean it’s not an actual problem.
    I don’t think botnet spammers are the only “real spammers.” There are a lot of “legitimate” companies who are paying spammers to send out unsolicited mail on their behalf, and, in point of fact, they’re the bigger problem for the user’s inbox than botnets. Botnets are relatively easy to block at the ISP level.
    The mail I’m unsubscribing from is at an address at an ISP behind a filter. It is not botnet mail and it’s not virus mail. It is spam.

By laura

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