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03/08/2004 Archived Entry: ""

McBlog contributor Scott M. weighs in on the current spam-control proposals circulating....Scott writes, "For several weeks I've been following the proposals for regulating spam, charging "postage", etc., and mulling over my reactions to same.

"My Saturday trip to the post office brought some of that into perspective. We have a PO box, and our schedules limit us to a single trip in a typical week. I have not measured, but my SWAG is that about 50% of the postal mail is unsolicited junk. By unsolicited I mean that I never actively requested the specific information or any information directly related to it; I'm not really interested in the hyster/politician/back room definition. So I sort through the mail at the PO, and there trash any junk mail that obviously (wihout opening) does not contain proprietary information. On Saturday it took me about 10 minutes at the PO to eliminate the obvious junk mail, and another 10 minutes at home to open and eliminate the rest. Messages left on my answering machine at home also run about 50% telemarketing "junk", a large fraction of which is in the form of "surveys" or other artifices to skirt the "no-call" list regulations (and no, I haven't signed up, I refuse on principle to voluntarily become an entry in yet another bureaucratic database). I spend perhaps 5 minutes per day deleting those. Where am I going with this? Well, my work email in-box also runs about 50% unsolicited messages (same definition), or about 10-50 spam messages per day. My email client (Lotus Notes) presents a summary view with each message on a line and the sender, date, and subject shown. I imagine that most modern clients display a similar view. I can identify at least 90% of my spam from that view. It remains only to select all of the obvious spam messages and delete or otherwise dispose of them (I have been quarantining mine in a special folder for possible use in tuning a Bayesian filter) The remaining 1 - 5 messages get opened in preview mode (in Notes this insulates most OS services from the content) and processed accordingly. Total time consumed - about 3 - 5 minutes per day.

"My conclusion is that spam messages are a royal PITA, but unless my experience is wildy atypical, no more so (and possibly less) than unsolicited messages received by post and telephone - means that are not "free" and that have been heavily regulated by the central government for a very long time. Further, while I begrudge the time consumed by eliminating spam messages and consider it unjust, it really isn't a tremendous burden in any real sense. So, why should I support government intervention (with out without colluding with the likes of Gates or any other wannabe Fed contractor who just wants a slice of pork pie) that will probably cost me more time to send and receive legitimate email than I now spend eliminating spam, may cost me money up front as "postage", will without any doubt cost me money in the form of taxes, and may create yet another arm on the effing Federal octopus? I shouldn't, and I don't. If it ain't broke don't fix it, and if it is broke, for heaven's sake keep the politicians, bureaucrats, lawyers, and other assorted carrion feeders away from it..."

A big DITTO here...Thanks Scott.

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