What Spam Problem?

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Now that my headline got your attention, let's look at spam from one e-mail user's perspective: mine, though my opinion probably won't carry much weight among anti-spammers since I'm the editor of a direct marketing publication. Please note, I readily admit that spam is a huge problem for Internet service providers. America Online blocked 500 billion spam messages from reaching user inboxes last year. That's 40 messages per day per user. Spam accounts for 60 percent of all e-mail traffic, with annual costs to fight it varying between $10 billion and $20 billion. Meanwhile, the jury's still out on CAN-SPAM.

From a user standpoint, however, I no longer have a problem with spam. Most of my spam disappeared a few months ago, and I didn't even notice it was gone. I guess I was expecting trumpets and confetti. What happened? It was technology -- not CAN-SPAM -- that did the trick. As I began to add up the amount of spam I get for this article, I realized my e-mail volume was down significantly from 12 months ago. At work, I credit our IT person. We use two anti-spam services: Brightmail, which stops the lion's share, and Trend Micro. On Jan. 6, Brightmail stopped 39,532 spam e-mails bound for dmnews.com addresses, though many of those were invalid brought on by spammers' so-called dictionary attacks.

At home, I have two AOL e-mail addresses and one Yahoo account. I've used all three for more than eight years, and I've never needed to drop one because of spam overload. Here's the breakdown on spam I received for one week: Jan. 1: 8; Jan. 2: 7; Jan. 3: 11; Jan. 4: 8; Jan. 5: 10; Jan. 6: 8; Jan. 7: 5. That's 57 spams in seven days. Annoying, yes. Unmanageable, no. At work during that same week's period, I received only eight - yes, eight - spams. The rest of my e-mail was correspondence, newsletters, marketing offers and a ton of press releases. Brightmail deleted the rest ... the Nigerian e-mails, home mortgage loans and Viagra pitches. And I'm still getting offers I said yes to from Amazon, Buy.com, Omaha Steaks and other legitimate marketers.

The war against spam is not over. I am sure DM News' IT person would like to do something besides sort through spam all day. Internet providers need help stopping this menace, especially if the volume keeps increasing. But, for me at least, spam is not the problem it was a year ago. It now takes me seconds - not minutes - to delete the few I get each day. Even if I weren't editor of a direct marketing publication, I could live with that. Who can't?

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