Two sides of the spam story

— 12:56 PM on July 2, 2002

CT Now is running a couple of stories on email spam, but from very different viewpoints. The first details an email marketer that insists there's a right way to do spam, and has even filed a $1 million lawsuit to protect his right to flood inboxes.

Opt-In Marketing sends out 80 million e-mails offering vacation packages. For each person who clicks on the e-mail to visit the travel company's website, the company earns $1 - a fee roughly in line with industry norms.

More than 99.9 percent of the recipients may ignore that come-on. But if the e-mails go out by the millions, only a small fraction need respond to make the job pay off big.

At $1/click-through, it's no wonder I'm flooded with offers for herbal Viagra. And to think, Internet entrepreneurs were trying to make money with banner ads. Of course there are those trying to shut down the spammers, and that's the subject of the second article.
Some belong to anti-spam groups. Others work alone. But all share a common disgust with unsolicited e-mails that tout everything from get-rich-quick schemes to pornography.

Most Americans respond to the tide of junk e-mail by waiting for government action, by looking for technological fixes or by relying on JHD - "just hit delete."

But so far, passive resistance hasn't worked. Rather, it's been the anti-spammers - using a combination of modern software tools and old-fashioned community activism - who can claim some measure of success in the spam wars.

With spammers making lucrative profits, and those fighting them working on a volunteer basis, it seems doubtful our inboxes will be free of junk anytime soon. Still, as spammers push the limits further, they may find themselves up against a rapidly increasing number of fed-up volunteers.
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