That's a TERRIBLE way to fix spam

A respected email technologist has been quoted in the mainstream media as saying he has a plan to solve spam. Oh really? Sadly, it seems he's just repeating a failed idea, as we'll see in The Long View...

By Richi Jennings.

If you've been following my Google+ stream today, you'll have noticed the conversation around the so-called 'father of the email attachment,' Nathaniel Borenstein. Nathaniel (nsb to his friends) is a smart guy, and his email chops were proved beyond doubt when he co-developed first the Andrew Message System at Carnegie Mellon, and then the MIME standard at Bell Communications Research. However, according to that august organ The Guardian, nsb's opinions on spam filtering are crazy-naïve. If the reporter is to be believed, nsb is proposing a solution that simply won't work, and has been proven not to work over and over and over again.

My favorite idea involves...attach[ing] to your mail a promise to pay the recipient a certain amount of money if they think it's spam. Spammers aren't going to be able to attach those bonds.

Whether or not nsb actually said such a bonkers thing, this, my friends, is what spam-fighters sarcastically call a FUSSP, or Final, Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem. This one is a variant of the good-old e-postage idea: A variant known as "attention bonds." As I said back in the


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