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Spam America Online The Internet Your Rights Online

AOL Cans 1 billion Spams In One Day 460

Posted by timothy
from the high-water-mark-for-low-water-marks dept.
linuxwrangler writes "AOL announced today that its spam filters hit the 1 billion reject mark for a 24 hour period. This is an average of 28 rejects per day per member. In addition, AOL spam engineers say they receive 5.5 million spam submissions each day from AOL users. Other reports here(1) and here(2)."
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AOL Cans 1 billion Spams In One Day

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  • Wow! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Tyler Eaves (344284) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:00PM (#5446058)
    28 per subcriber per day caught.

    Only leaves 103 apeice...
    • Re:Wow! (Score:2, Funny)

      by 13Echo (209846)
      103 which were okayed by AOL because they made the company more money.
    • Re:Wow! (Score:5, Informative)

      by StarOwl (131464) <{starowl-dotslash} {at} {triskele.com}> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:29PM (#5446246) Homepage
      Man, what I'd give to only have 28 pieces of spam thrown my way each day. Here's how many pieces of putrid canned ham have been spewed my way in the past few days:


      23 February: 1095 spams, 7,821,318 bytes
      24 February: 1320 spams, 6,581,776 bytes
      25 February: 1700 spams, 6,875,706 bytes
      26 February: 1598 spams, 7,910,568 bytes
      27 February: 2659 spams, 13,183,247 bytes
      28 February: 1436 spams, 6,280,790 bytes
      1 March: 1492 spams, 6,917,835 bytes
      2 March: 1274 spams, 5,805,475 bytes
      3 March: 1488 spams, 6,196,761 bytes
      4 March: 1626 spams, 9,023,298 bytes

      Thank Ghu for tools like procmail [procmail.org], tmda [tmda.net], and spamoracle [inria.fr].

      • Dammit Dad! (Score:5, Funny)

        by psxndc (105904) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:20PM (#5446544) Journal
        Mom told you to stop giving the pr0n companies your real email address.

        *shaking head*

        psxndc

  • But... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Black Jack Hyde (2374) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:00PM (#5446059)
    ...only 15 originated outside of AOHell in the first place.
  • by nizcolas (597301) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:00PM (#5446060) Homepage Journal
    Are they responsible for creating the spam, or stopping it?

  • by AEton (654737) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:01PM (#5446061)
    ...how much of that was outgoing? i.e, how much did AOL users themselves generate? Probably more than they want to let on...
  • Failure rate? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by waytoomuchcoffee (263275) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:02PM (#5446069)
    And how many got through?
    • erm... 5.5 million per day as the article states?

      That'd be my guess.
      • Re:Failure rate? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by waytoomuchcoffee (263275) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:09PM (#5446125)
        Members are clicking on the "Report Spam" button to send up to 5.5 million pieces of junk email per day to AOL's anti-spam engineers

        Your guess is that every single piece of spam that gets through is reported?
        • Re:Failure rate? (Score:3, Flamebait)

          by trmj (579410)
          Yep. From what I have noticed in real life, every person who still uses AOL is quite adept at complaining. Reporting these spams is the best way to complain to AOL about them.

          They are just doing what they do best.
          • by GospelHead821 (466923) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:47PM (#5446363)
            Unfortunately, complaints about unwanted email are considered spam by the filters and never actually reach support@aol.com.
          • You are saying AOL's spam filters have a 99.4% success rate (5.5m/1b)? Please. Why is this modded up?
            • Re:Failure rate? (Score:5, Informative)

              by trmj (579410) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [nalrafcamt]> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @12:13AM (#5446785) Journal
              I'll bite. Hell, you already consider me a foe, so what more harm can I do?

              To start off with, the information is grossly understated. If we were to find out what is going on with the filtering issue, we would need many more numbers than what they gave us (e.g. total number of mails processed, then broken down by sender, whether the recipient was in the to part of the header or the bcc part, etc).

              There are so many factors that go into this that it's not even funny. I run a medium sized hosting company and take care of spam complaints from the inside and outside, as well as deal with filtering. It's not the most interesting job in the world... and yes, I do have clients (business owners) who use AOL for their home dialup service. They tend to be the ones that complain most.

              So, to answer your question, yes, from the information we were given, it appears that their filtering is 99.4% successful. Is this at all accurate? Nope.

              It's not my fault the moderators don't agree with you. Most of the time, they don't agree with me either. Unfortunately, unless you can think of a better moderation system and get Taco to build it, it's gonna be this way.
    • Re:Failure rate? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mosch (204) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:07PM (#5446110) Homepage
      More importantly, how many valid emails were wrongly discarded as spam?
      • Re:Failure rate? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anthony Boyd (242971) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:26PM (#5446564) Homepage
        how many valid emails were wrongly discarded as spam?

        I can partly answer that, and say it's probably a huge number. Bigger than they want you to know. I help out with a local church's Web site. This is a church -- they're far too nice and technically inept to spam anyone. But their site is hosted on a machine that about 100 domains use. Other customers of the ISP HAVE sent spam. AOL blocks at IP address, so all 100 domains are blocked.

        So. To answer your question, a LOT of legitimate email is not getting through. I had to work with the church's ISP and AOL spam cops to get them to make an exception for the church's domain. They LEFT the other 98 domains that hadn't spammed on the block list, just because those domains hadn't complained yet. And of course, every now and then, they "forget" that they've made an exception for us, and I have to go over it all again.

        Really, AOL gets such big numbers because their system is not very efficient.

        • by Kakurenbo Shogun (64436) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:39PM (#5446631) Homepage
          Apparently AOL users can set up their accounts to reject ALL email originating outside AOL (as if the rest of the internet were worse SPAMmers than AOL folks). Amazingly, this setting is turned on on some accounts (many, I suspect) without them even knowing it. I run a webserver for a few businesses, and we get LOTS of mail bounced back from AOL account for this reason. It's a real pain when, for example, an AOL customer is trying to sign up on our site, and their account activation key gets bounced back to us because of this stupid setting. I bet they're counting all these messages in their total.
  • by jrstewart (46866) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:02PM (#5446074) Homepage
    Well, maybe they are, but that's not what's reported in the article.

    AOL users are reporting 5.5 million spam messages a day to customer service.
  • by Defender2000 (177459) <defender2000@NOSpAm.mindless.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:04PM (#5446085) Journal
    I can see it now:
    *bing*You got mail!

    "You have 10 new messages"
    "You have 293 rejected messages"
  • by irving47 (73147) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:04PM (#5446089) Homepage
    To measure the LEGIT email going through AOL?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    How do you apply for a job like that? And why was it I immediately thought of that putrid spam in a can when I read that.. Ugg...
  • unfortunately, i would guess that half of their spam is legitimate communications that get blocked. i have alot of email addys. but apparently, only my mac.com address gets through.

    every other letter i write to my mom gets rejected. if i am not allowed to spam my mom, who else should be????

    • by agentZ (210674) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:07PM (#5446109)
      I have to know why you're asking your Mom if she'd like to add three or four inches to her penis length.
    • It's mutual. (Score:5, Informative)

      by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @12:39AM (#5446932) Homepage
      * ^From:[ ]*[a-z0-9_]+@aol\.com$
      #
      * ! ^X-Loop:.*mydomain
      * ^TO_me@mydomain\.com
      #
      {
      # Make a temporary file of the message to be returned
      :0c:formail.lock
      # Discard whitespaces, insert a leading blank
      | expand | sed -e 's/[ ]*$//g' | sed -e 's/^/ /' > return.tmp
      # Prepare and send the rejection
      :0:formail.lock
      | (formail -r -I"Subject: Rejected mail: Recipient refusal" \
      -A"X-Loop: rejected-mail@mydomain.com" ; \
      echo "Sorry, but your e-mail was rejected because the From: header" ; \
      echo "didn't seem to include your real name. This is an automated" ; \
      echo "message; replying to it won't work." ; \
      echo "--- begin rejected mail ---" ; \
      cat return.tmp ; \
      echo "--- end rejected mail ---" ; \
      rm -f return.tmp) \
      | /usr/sbin/sendmail -t
      }
  • And it is under the most correct section: Your Rights Online.

    Today 1 billion voices were silenced. This is not some make believe movie where Alderan gets blown up. It is about the actual usurpation of the Freedom of Speech.

    AOL has taken it upon themselves to decide for their users what is appropriate speech and what is not. That is sad. If you think Microsoft is taking away your freedoms because they own 90%+ in the OS market it is time to recheck your bad guys. AOL has just proven itself to be an enemy to Free Speech. That is a much more grave violation of your rights online than anything Microsoft has ever done.

    The laughable part of all this is that AOL is the biggest real-world spammer with their tons and tons of CDs that have to be dumped into landfills every year.

    Fuck you AOL for making yourself judge, jury, and executioner of the First Amendment.
    • by mstockman (188945) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:16PM (#5446163)

      Would someone mod the parent up +1 Funny, please? Because the poster can't be serious. Let's look at a few of the more obvious problems with the post:

      • You capitalized "Freedom of Speech" being usurped, so I assume you mean the freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment, which you mention at the end. Sadly for your post, that Freedom and that amendment apply only to the Government. Private institutions can suppress (that is, fail to use their own money to allow) any speech they damn well please.
      • Nobody is taking away anyone's freedoms, because each and every AOL user whose spam was blocked paid AOL to do it. Those who don't want spam blocked are Free to change to another ISP. (Oh, quit it... AOL is too an ISP. Stay on topic, all right?)
      • Finally, tons and tons of CDs, unless they appear as ISO images in your mailbox, are Junk Mail, not spam.

      Hope this clears up exactly which "rights" have been infringed here -- the rights of spammers to dump 1 billion pieces of mail into AOL users' mailboxes. And I just can't get too hot under the collar about their loss.

      • by robi2106 (464558) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:26PM (#5446233) Homepage Journal
        Exactly. Tell me where it says in the USA Constitution that a corporation is required to pay to support your missguided interpretation of freedom of speech? The government isn't even required to do this.

        The only thing the government can't do is supress or prevent you from doing so.

        I should be allowed to stand on the steps of the White house and demand that I be given press conference time immediately following the President, just because I am a citizen. But I should be reqected my requests and even asked to shut up and read the Constitution that I tried erroneously to wave in my defense.

        And how many spams originate from citizens of USA any way, more from outside I would venture.

        robi
    • by arvindn (542080) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:22PM (#5446207) Homepage Journal
      Although parent post sounds trollish, it has a valid point. Filtering incoming mail by the ISP is a bad idea, atleast much worse than filtering outgoing ones.
      • It doesn't help the wasted bandwidth problem.
      • Since the users don't know what mail they were going to get, there is much less accountability. OTOH, if my ISP blocked the (legitimate) mail I sent, then I can complain to them.
      • The ISP can be forced to implement arbitrary filters like "pro-terrorist", "anti-US", etc by the government and no one would be the wiser.
      So this is a first step, but not the Right Thing. I hope ISPs start coming under more pressure to filter their outgoing mail.
    • Couldn't you just disable the spam filter? I know Yahoo does this, and believe me, I ain't touching AOL, but I have to believe this feature is available.
    • by meringuoid (568297) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:29PM (#5446251)
      Fuck you AOL for making yourself judge, jury, and executioner of the First Amendment.

      Ah, frea speach. What an overrated 'right' that is. Sorry, but your precious Amendment only prevents the government from shutting you up. There's no reason AOL can't censor you, and there's nothing to stop the Slashdot mods putting you to -1. That was settled long ago; Sanford Wallace, the Ralsky of his day, sued AOL and Compuserve for filtering his junk out, and he lost.

      It costs AOL $2 per month per user just to handle the spam traffic. AOL's huge userbase makes them a magnet for dictionary attacks. If you want an unfiltered mail feed, then by all means pay someone extra for spam storage, or run your own mail server.

    • by bkocik (17609) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:30PM (#5446262) Homepage
      AOL has taken it upon themselves to decide for their users what is appropriate speech and what is not

      No, we have not. Spam is the #1 complaint we get from our users. They don't want the stuff, so we're fighting it. We block what they ask us to block.

      But, of course, we're AOL and this is Slashdot, so naturally everything we do is wrong.

      • Thanks for doing your part. I worked with the abuse department at DirecTV Broadband before they went out of business, and I know when our abuse department fell behind on shutting down spammers, AOL notified us that they were about to block some of our customers' IP blocks. This happened multiple times, and we were able to use the threat to convince management to give us some additional manpower to handle the work.

        None of us will probably use AOL's service, but their abuse department certainly earned our respect.
      • by zerocool^ (112121) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @01:51AM (#5447221) Homepage Journal
        But, of course, we're AOL and this is Slashdot, so naturally everything we do is wrong

        You got me on the internet.

        Granted, I've since graduated, but *blush* you were my first.
  • by sgtsanity (568914) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:06PM (#5446100)

    I would really like to see what kinds of spam are being sent and received. Sorta like the Google Zeitgeist, but for mass email.

    It would probably have the same #1 term, though...


  • Yeesh... just how many pr0n sites did these "spam engineers" sign up for?

    As for me, I get about an equal number of those Nigerian e-mails per day.
  • by Dunkalis (566394) <crichards@gmxHORSE.net minus herbivore> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:08PM (#5446119)
    More proof that spam is a terrible burden on the Internet and its users. We need more countermeasures against spam. I have a great idea for keeping spam out (and even making sure the ISP doesn't get it), but I have to develop the idea and the tools some more (in other words: only the idea exists, and its a pretty rough one).

    Its pretty bad when a single ISP gets 1 billion+ spams a day, and that must severely punish their servers. Kudos to AOL (wow...I never thought I'd ever say that) for taking the effort to block the tremendous amount of spam sent to your users.
  • Over 1 billion served!

    Go AOL! You actually did something right!
  • by 1nv4d3r (642775) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:09PM (#5446127)
    I don't know what everyone's complaining about. All those hot wet co-eds have really appreciated how large my penis has gotten--not to mention all the weight I've lost--and ever since I helped that nice Nigerian royal, I've had the spare cash to take them out on the town as well. I have to go get my snail-mail now, last week I found out I might have already won!

    Wish me luck.

  • Spam solution (Score:3, Informative)

    by Falconpro10k (602396) <jmark2@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:11PM (#5446137) Homepage
    I have a very very good solution for spammingive been doing it ever since i was able to get an email program that supported filters, i rapidly created one filter after another, within one week, there was NO spam in my email box. it was in the trash (used eudora) So here is the solution, allow aol users to use POP/SMTP access for their mail, this way they can block spam at the drop point, and positivley identify spammers before you decide to block them, with this method, spam will die... Spam is simply the scourge of the internet, it needs to be eradicated by efficent technical methods, not just by blocking legit messages as well. Btw- im using evolution now, with only 4 filters, i havent missed one message that was legit yet...
    • Re:Spam solution (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Ballsy (104411)
      For every 1 email user on the internet who knows how to/wants to/has time to setup local spam filters in their email client, there will be more than 1000 who simply can't/won't grasp the concept for various reasons. Additionally, downloading all the messages over their dialup connection takes time, and therefore costs $$$ in countries which charge per minute for local phone service.
  • by TopShelf (92521) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:13PM (#5446150) Homepage Journal
    This may not be the crowd that wants to hear this, but some radical changes need to be made in the email protocol to minimize the amount of spam that users deal with these days. Bottom line is that the goal should be for email communications to be as trustworthy as phone calls - sure, there are some telemarketers and crank callers out there, but if the noise level from your phone was as high as in your email, there would be marches on Washington to demand a solution.

    I would think the most likely candidate would be to build-in verification of the sender, and bring about the end of anonymous email. That's sure to raise the hackles of many here, but so far, nothing's working.
    • by maxume (22995) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:05PM (#5446459)
      The 'trustworthiness' of phone calls has nothing to do with verification or anonimity. It is pretty easy to make what is essentially an anonymous phone call. Telemarketing and spamming have everything to do with cost effectiveness. It makes people money to spam. If it didn't, they probably wouldn't be doing it for all that long.

      Your phone isn't barraged with spam calls because it costs money to have someone sit and talk to you and try to get you to buy stuff. Just enough money such that you only occasionally get a call from a telemarketer. Apparently, the response rate for most spam is high enough that the costs associated with getting a reasonable level of responses/sent messages are less than the profits from doing so. Thus most people get piles of spam.

      Much like telemarketing, the way to stop spam is at the termination point, the user. If spammers don't make any money, they won't spam anymore.

      The solution isn't to take capabilities away from normal users, the solution is to make it so hard to be a spammer(that makes money doing it), that no one is a spammer anymore...
  • by ufoman (544261) <[moc.liamg] [ta] [namofu]> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:14PM (#5446157) Homepage
    But how do I block the 1 billion AOL CD's I get each year?
  • by lwbecker2 (530894) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:18PM (#5446182)
    In the AOL "Mail Center" there is an option to "Allow ALL mail". I take it this doesn't work, or that AOL should change it to "Allow all mail that we decide to let through..." ?
  • But wait... (Score:2, Funny)

    by taernim (557097)
    ... I really did want to know how to please my partner with a bigger... Damn you for foiling my plans, Steve Case! \

    Oh wait... you're not even there to blame anymore! Blast!
  • Save those bits! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by smartin (942) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:21PM (#5446197)
    If this is true, can you imagine how much bandwidth and disk space is wasted by spam. I'd be willing to bet that the money lost to spam exceeds the money lost to pirate software and mp3's combined.
    • by zerocool^ (112121) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @02:00AM (#5447250) Homepage Journal
      I don't know what the X means, but the P stands for "Piece Of Crap"

      I assume you're talking about "XP".

      XP stands for Jesus Christ. When the Emperor Constantine fought for control of the western roman empire at the Milvian bridge in 312, he supposedly saw the sign "Chi-Rho" (Greek Letters X and P) in the sky, along with hearing a voice which said "in this sign, you will conqueror". Chi-Rho, the way it is usually depicted in ancient artwork, is an X super-imposed on a P. Chi and Rho are the first two letters of the Greek name for Christ, pronounced "Kreestos".
      Hence, where we get "X-mas". I once heard a baptist preacher say that x-mas was bad because they were crossing out christ, x-ing him out. This is stupid - since the 500's X has been a sign for Christ.

      Hence, WindowsXP is really Windows, version christ.

  • How do they know? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Yeah, I get 20+ penis enlargement spam per day.
    But what puzzles me is how they know I have a
    small penis?

  • by barzok (26681) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:24PM (#5446219)
    I'm on a mailing list and our AOL-based members frequently post "did the list die? I haven't gotten any email in the last couple days". AOL doesn't even reject the messages, they just get blackholed. Someone in the bowels of AOL's mailservers is a cache of tens of thousands of messages about pickup trucks.

    Our listmaster has been around and around in circles with AOL on it several times. It's almost not worth fighting anymore. Use AOL, accept the fact that email you want will not always get to you.
  • S.O.L? (Score:5, Funny)

    by coday (628350) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:25PM (#5446227)
    Does this mean I'm gonna get screwed on my mortgage and have to settle for an average sized penis?
  • What if.... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Mossfoot (310128) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:26PM (#5446234) Homepage
    ... we were allowed to physically punch a spammer for each piece of spam we get (remember that line up of people in the movie Airplane waiting to smack some sense into the panicky woman? ;) )

    Well, a guy can dream, can't he?
  • Good (Score:5, Funny)

    by aiyo (653781) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:27PM (#5446240)
    Now my penis enlagrement products won't be drowned out by useless spam.
  • Intelligent filters (Score:2, Interesting)

    by digital bath (650895)
    It would be interesting to see the code behind AOL's spam filters. What do they consider spam? Does the email have to contain a certain percentage of capitalized letters, come from a certain user/address, have lots of embedded images etc?

    If the filter is anything like the filters in use in public schools and library networks, then it would be a fair guess that quite a few legit emails were blocked by the filters. It seems like writting an intelligent filter is pretty hard.
  • Holy. (Score:2, Interesting)

    Fucking. Shit.

    I just totaled up the logs for the spam graph [dowco.com] I keep for our mail server. In maybe a year and a half, we've caught approx. 1.6 million spams. I thought we were doing well.

    But Jesus Christ! Who here wants to start a pool? We'll bet on how long it'll take before AOL has stopped a googol of spam, total. I bet two and a half years; three tops.

  • I assume a portion of this spam was for people who are signed up for AOL. If this is correct, why don't ISPs (especially big ones) put hefty fines on users that they catch abusing their TOS?

    Way to go AOL.
    • The way it usually works is:
      1. End user reports SPAM to his ISP.
      2. EU's ISP contacts ISP of spammer and says joe@isp.com is a spammer. Usually through abuse@isp.com.
      3. If spammer's ISP does nothing and the SPAM continues, EU's ISP blocks entire spammer's ISP.
      4. Spammer's ISP gets reports from clients they cannot send mail to EU's ISP.
      5. Spammer's ISP finally kicks spammer off due to pressure from its users not being able to email EU's ISP.
      Of course, this is the theory.
  • bandwidth usage (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kidlinux (2550) <duke@s p a c e b o x.net> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:39PM (#5446314) Homepage
    I don't get a whole lot of spam daily, nothing to get terribly upset about. Bandwidth usage for the amount of spam I get on my private server would be relatively trivial.

    But what kind of bandwidth would 1 billion spam messages take up? And system resources to process all that excess mail? I bet AOL spends a small fortune on spam - they gotta pay those "SPAM" engineers too.

    I hear people complain about spam, but I generally think to myself "yeah yeah." But 1 billion freakin messages is nuts.
  • Ambivalence (Score:5, Interesting)

    by iiioxx (610652) <iiioxx@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:41PM (#5446325)
    I'm kind of torn on this issue. On the one hand, I hate spam and those who allow it to proliferate. On the other hand, I abhor censorship in any form. I wouldn't have an issue with this at all if AOL simply provided its users with the *tools* to eliminate their own spam if they choose to do so. My problem with this is that AOL itself is deciding to filter its members' email, and making the determination itself as to what is and is not "spam". That's a reckless step down a slippery slope, in my opinion.
    • Re:Ambivalence (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jcr (53032)
      I abhor censorship in any form.

      So do I. However, what AOL did in blocking the spam, IE, controlling the use of their own property isn't censorship.

      It would be censorship if AOL tried to preven the spammers from using any other company's facilities to steal their advertising placements.

      -jcr
      • Re:Ambivalence (Score:3, Insightful)

        by iiioxx (610652)
        However, what AOL did in blocking the spam, IE, controlling the use of their own property isn't censorship.

        It's censorship from the standpoint that they are making a determination for their users as to which content is acceptable and which is not. "Controlling the use of their own property" would be a valid argument if they simply tightened their acceptible use policy in regards to their own users, and restricted access to their own mailservers by preventing open relay, checking for mangled headers, referencing blackhole lists, etc.

        The point at which I think it goes too far is when AOL starts analyzing messages and deciding for their users whether or not a particular message is in fact, spam. I think what would be better is to give the users tools that would allow them to filter their own mail (ie, reject messages with specific keywords or combinations of keywords, like penis+enhancement or Nigerian+ambassador).

        I would even be satisfied if AOL simply ranked email with a spam meter, and then flagged the message as "Possible Spam" or something. As long as the message itself is actually delivered to its intended recipient. The user can then decide for themselves if they choose to trust AOL's ranking system and simply auto-delete anything flagged, or if they want to inspect it themselves.
        • Re:Ambivalence (Score:4, Insightful)

          by John Hasler (414242) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:55PM (#5446700) Homepage
          > The user can then decide for themselves if they
          > choose to trust AOL's ranking system and simply
          > auto-delete anything flagged, or if they want to
          > inspect it themselves.

          The user can decide for himself whether or not to use AOL at all. By choosing to use AOL he chooses to accept AOL's filters. There's no censorship here.
          • Re:Ambivalence (Score:3, Insightful)

            by iiioxx (610652)
            The user can decide for himself whether or not to use AOL at all.

            Agreed.

            By choosing to use AOL he chooses to accept AOL's filters.

            Agreed.

            There's no censorship here.

            I disagree. AOL *is* censoring the information that reaches their members' inboxes by filtering that material based on AOL's criteria, and not necessarily the criteria of their individual members. As I said before, I would have no problem with AOL taking measures against spam if those measures were largely passive in nature (ie, flagging incoming messages that meet certain criteria as "Possible Spam" and giving each individual member choices as to how they want to handle those messages). My problem with AOL's approach is that they are preventing those messages that AOL considers spam from ever reaching their customers' inboxes.

            Granted, one man's "censorship" is another man's "filtering service." I just think that AOL would be better served by giving their users the power to filter their own mail, rather than taking a "my way or the highway" approach to it. At the very least, the users should be given the option to choose whether they trust AOL's spam filter and want to just let their mail be deleted, or whether they want it routed to a designated "spam" folder of their inbox where they can verify it themselves.
  • by goombah99 (560566) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:44PM (#5446342)
    there is a claim that spam costs money. Money to the ISP for bandwidth and money to the end user for reading/deleting. is this really true? well certainly I delete lots of spam and it costs me time. but what about the ISP?

    I would guess that deleting spam is about as expensive as transmitting it for an ISP. that is the processor intensive task of scoring and removing a spam probably is a wash with the processor light task of tranmitting and storing it. Now for the sake of argument lets just guess a wild number for the cost of filtering or passing along a spam. lets say 0.001 dollars.

    if that were true then a billion spam deleted would cost AOL 1million dollars per day (plus the ones that got through). that would be a third of a billion dollars a year. THat seems way to high. So it must be less. SO maybe its 0.000001 cents?? that would come to a third of a million dollars a year.

    My guess is that the latter is probably a good guess. why? well how many engineers has AOL assigned to the de spamination? perhaps a third of a million dollars worth every year? it would of course not make sense to spend more on de spamination than the harm it costs.

    so anyhow assuming this wild guessing is within an order of magnitude then the proper charge to fine a spammer would be some multiple of 0.000001 dollars per spam sent. which is not an awful lot.

    so is spam really that costly to ISPs??? Maybe not

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 06, 2003 @12:19AM (#5446819)
      wow, this is some voodoo math if I've ever seen some...
      your assumptions are pretty poor, for example:

      how can you possibly assume that the cost of a spam is only in 1) the bandwidth required to receive the spam and 2) the amount of processor time spent to score and delete the messages?

      The most costly aspect of spam for AOL is the damage to its image, and the consequent loss of its user base. That in turn, has a consequent loss in stock price.

      also, i like how you relate the "despamination" costs of the salaries of the engineers with the costs of spam to the ISP.

      here's your logic:
      "it would of course not make sense to spend more on de spamination than the harm it costs"

      well, this is true, but what can you logically conclude from this? only that the harm it costs is AT LEAST as much as the cost of "de spamination"

      this DOES NOT mean that:
      (harm done by spam) == (cost of de spamination)
      as you imply in your post.
      in fact, quite the opposite, if I were company, would I embark on an endeavor if I only expected to breakeven? HELL NO. a company would only try to do something like despamification or new features in a piece of software if it expected to come out ahead. This means that:
      (harm done by spam) >> (cost of engineers to de spaminate)

      also, I think you severely lowballed the cost of the engineers doing the despamification. a third of a million gets you ~5-6 engineers? If they are sucessfully filtering 1 billion spam a day, they need more than that just for the IT personnel keeping the processing power running.

      Also, you are confusing the costs to the ISP. don't forget that AOL will still incur the costs of deleting the spam, the costs of the bandwidth to receive the spam, and ON TOP OF THAT the costs of the engineers.

      so instead of:
      (harm done by spam) == (cost of engineers to despam)
      it is much more accurately depicted by the following:
      (harm done by spam) >> (cost of engineers to despam) + (cost of bandwidth to receive spam) + (cost of processing power to score and delete spam)
    • What the hell are you talking about?

      The main costs of spam are probably:
      1) the increased bandwidth required to accept all that spam into AOL's network in addition to all the other Internet traffic coming in

      2) the increased capacity of their mail servers to store and process all that spam in addition to the legitimate mail they have to process

      3) the cost of employing an entire department of people whose job is to try to reduce the amount of spam going around

      4) support costs from customers who complain about receiving spam that should have been blocked or about not receiving legitimate mail that was blocked by mistake

      5) badwill (opposite of goodwill) due to the association of their company with spam (everybody knows - or thinks they know - AOL users receive more spam than users of many other ISPs)

      Did I miss anything?
    • Dude.

      there is a claim that spam costs money. Money to the ISP for bandwidth and money to the end user for reading/deleting. is this really true?

      Then later:

      I would guess that deleting spam is about as expensive as transmitting it for an ISP.

      If deleting it costs money, and not deleting it costs money, then it costs money.

  • by rice_burners_suck (243660) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:53PM (#5446399)
    Speaking of spam... Slashdot should give its user information database, including names and email addresses, to Microsoft, free of charge, so that Microsoft can send 100 Visual Studio advertisements daily to each person in the aforementioned database.

    Seriously, now... I always click on the Microsoft ads and then hit the back button once their page finishes loading. It creates extra loads on their web servers. It probably costs them something. It makes them think that people are actually interested in their shit (as opposed to the realistic fact that people only use their shit because they're forced to), etc. And I'm sure that the good guys, like the folks at OSDN, benefit from people like me clicking on Microsoft's stupid ads.

  • Mailing lists? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Titusdot Groan (468949) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @10:54PM (#5446404) Journal
    How many of those 5.5 "spam" submissions are mailing lists the user is too lazy to unsubscribe from?

    I had several lists bounce back and forth from my Yahoo inbox to my Yahoo bulk box before Yahoo figured this out and stopped moving legitimate mailers like NYTimes.com, Palm and Apple news into the bulk category.

  • My right to send spam?

    My right not to recieve anything unsolicited? Spam is annoying, but I think that's reaching.

    Are we claiming some right to get unfiltered e-mail?

    Perhaps AOL infringes on our rights simply by existing.
  • Not So Hard When... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bilbo (7015) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:37PM (#5446615) Homepage
    I guess it's not so hard to hit 1B rejects in a day when they start rejecting ALL email from certain major ISP's....

    I'm not sure what the problem is, but I just discovered this evening that all mail from my Time Warner/Roadrunner account is being bounced by AOL. Gives me some truncated error message, so I don't even know what the problem is.

    Cute. :-/

  • by FyRE666 (263011) on Wednesday March 05, 2003 @11:56PM (#5446701) Homepage
    I remember some survey from years ago that asked "if you could press a button and someone on the other side of the World would die, but you'd recieve 1,000,000 dollars, would you do it?". I'm now wondering, if you could press a button, and a spammer, somewhere would die - would YOU do it? Scary as it seems to me, I'd probably say "yes"...
  • by stygar (539704) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @12:23AM (#5446842)
    Good for AOL and their subscribers. But I think I have a simpler way to block a billion spam messages/day: just go to Alan Ralsky's house and cut all his datalines?
  • by SysKoll (48967) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @01:17AM (#5447112)
    So your old email accounts are spammed to death, huh?

    If you want to get rid of spam, do this:

    1. Create a "secret" email account from a reputable provider. Make it unguessable. Add some digits or weird long strings. Don't give it to anyone.

    2.Go to spamgourmet.com [spamgourmet.com] and create an account. It's free and open source. In the "forward emails to" field, enter your secret email.

    3. Give spamgourmet addresses to your friends. If your account name is Joe6Pack, give your pal Jack Daniels an address Jack.Daniels.Joe6Pack at spamgourmet dot com. To greatdeal.com, give greatdeal.com.Joe6Pack at spamgourmet dot com. This way you know who has what address. Those spamgourmet addresses are disposable.

    All the emails sent to your various spamgourmet addresses are forwarded to your secret account.

    4. If Jack, who is a friggin' idiot running XP and Outlook, gets yet another Kletz-like virus, the content of his Outlook address book will be compromized and all these addresses harvested by spammers. Just go to spamgourmet.com and disable the compromized address. Tell Jack he's a fool. Give him another disposable address if needed... Until next time.

    If greatdeal.com turns out to be a spammer, just disable their address.

    5. After a couple of months, disable your old email accounts, the ones that are spammed to death right now.

    6. No more spam. Or if you get spam, just disable the spammed address and report the spammer to spamhaus.org. You'll never be spammed more than once.

    Works for me.

    -- SysKoll
  • AOL is a busload of screaming ebola victims, vomiting and bleeding on everyone as they pass.

    Wish I could remember where I heard that. Searched google for it, and found this,

    What do you mean by superhighway?

    Free speech is such a slippery little eel... Just when you think the Constitution has it right, you run into an interpretation that fails the "common sense/BS" test. Perhaps an analogy will serve... Think of the computer highway AS a highway.

    There it is again. Some clueless fool talking about the "Information Superhighway." They don't know jack about the net. It's nothing like a Superhighway. That's a bad metaphor.

    Yeah, but suppose the metaphor ran in the other direction. Suppose the highways were like the net. All right! Severe craziness. A highway hundreds of lanes wide. Most with potholes. Privately operated bridges and overpasses. No highway patrol. A couple of rent-a-cops on bicycles with broken whistles. 500 member vigilante posses with nuclear weapons. 237 on ramps at every intersection. No signs. Wanna get to Ensenada? Holler out the window at a passing truck to ask directions. Ad hoc traffic laws. Some lanes would vote to make use by a single-occupant-vehicle a capital offense on Monday through Friday between 7:00 and 9:00. Other lanes would just shoot you without a trial for talking on a car phone.

    AOL would be a giant diesel-smoking bus with hundreds of ebola victims and a toilet spewing out on the road behind it. Throwing dead wombats and rotten cabbage at the other cars most of which have been assembled at home from kits. Some are 2.5 horsepower lawnmower engines with a top speed of nine miles an hour. Others burn nitroglycerine and idle at 120.

    No license tags. World War II bomber nose art instead. Terrifying paintings of huge teeth or vampire eagles. Bumper mounted machine guns. Flip somebody the finger on this highway and get a white phosphorus grenade up your tailpipe. Flatbed trucks with anti-aircraft missile batteries to shoot down the KRUD Traffic Watch helicopter. A little kid on a tricycle with a squirtgun filled with hydrochloric acid.

    No offramps.

    Now that's the way to run an Interstate Highway system

    (I have no idea where this came from--if you know who authored it, let me know, so we can have them arrested.)

    So I still don't know who wrote it, but at least I got a good laugh re-reading the whole piece.

  • Email viruses (Score:3, Interesting)

    by chrisbtoo (41029) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @05:41AM (#5447831) Homepage Journal
    Straying a bit offtopic, but I suffer way more from being sent email viruses than I ever have from spam. I might see 1 spam (maybe 1k - 20k bytes) every couple of days, whereas I get anything from 20 to 100 copies of Klez or Yaha, at 45k - 188k bytes each per day.

    AFAICT, all those came from the fact that I made the mistake of listing my real email address when I uploaded a Winamp skin. It was up for less than a week in December, and I'm still getting viruses now. The hotmail one I put up to replace it (only ever used for that Winamp skin) gets a similar level.

  • by Ninja Master Gara (602359) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @07:39AM (#5448058) Homepage
    Date: Wed, 5 Mar 2003 00:06 +0000
    Subject: [Slashdot] Metamoderation Results
    From: slashdot@slashdot.org
    To: xxxx@xxxxxxx.xxx

    &ltsnip&gt

    Some of your past moderations have been meta-moderated by other Slashdot readers. Here are the exciting results:

    &ltsnip&gt

    You have received this message because you subscribed to it on Slashdot.

    &ltsnip&gt

    SPAM: Spamnix identified this message as spam. This report shows which
    SPAM: rules matched the message and how many points each rule contributed.
    SPAM:
    SPAM: Content analysis details: (6.7 hits, 4 required)
    SPAM: NO_REAL_NAME (0.5 points) From: does not include a real name
    SPAM: CLICK_BELOW (1.5 points) BODY: Asks you to click below
    SPAM: EXCUSE_1 (2.3 points) BODY: Gives a lame excuse about why you were sent this SPAM
    SPAM: FREQ_SPAM_PHRASE (2.4 points) Contains phrases frequently found in spam
    SPAM: [score: 10, hits: click here, help you, received]
    SPAM: [this, thank you, this message, you]
    SPAM: [for]

  • by Ender Ryan (79406) <TOKYO minus city> on Thursday March 06, 2003 @09:19AM (#5448308) Journal
    The company I work for currently has a grand total of 7 employees working here in the office. It used to be more before the economy fell apart, but I digress.

    Spam became a huge problem here roughly a year ago, and it started taking up too much employee time. So roughly six months ago, we started using Spam Assassin. In that six months, Spam assassin has caught roughly 90% of the spam we get, totalling well over 500,000 spam mails.

    Am I crazy, or is 1/2 million spams for only 7 people in less than six months absolutely insane or what? How can anyone argue that these spammers are running legitamite businesses?

    I think it's high-time for some legis-fuckin-lation to curb this insanity :)

  • AOL Haiku (Score:3, Funny)

    by Sgs-Cruz (526085) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @10:16AM (#5448569) Homepage Journal
    Much like alcohol;
    AOL - both the problem
    and the solution.
  • by mcguirez (524534) on Thursday March 06, 2003 @11:38AM (#5449017)
    ...shall die by the sword.

    How can AOL complain? The spammers are just
    following AOL's lead!

    Does anyone else find it fitting that AOL [those responsible for a flood of "XXX FREE HOURS" discs each week in my snail mail, magazines, and breakfast cereal] should suffocate under an avalanche of their own electronic hellspawn?

    There is sweet justice after all!

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