I had expected to tackle other topics, but I find I need to once again hit the subject of bulk e-mail. The reason for revisiting the issue is that I just received spam that creates a whole new subcategory of junk e-mail.

Perhaps I should start by defining my terms.

To begin with, there's bulk e-mail that is sent to you because you signed up somewhere. This constitutes solicited bulk e-mail, although the line between solicited and unsolicited is easily crossed by too-frequent postings and content that isn't quite what the recipient expected.

The big boys in the computer industry conduct this kind of e-mail distribution, and we don't mind. We actually want to know what Microsoft, Novell and others are doing.

Someone challenged my assertion last week that Microsoft distributes spam. His point was that if you get something from Microsoft, you must have signed up for it. Well, sure, but asking for one thing shouldn't result in receiving a score of other thinly related items. Moreover, it should be easy to get Microsoft to stop.

Several people wrote me stating they have received what they consider spam from Microsoft. A complaint raised by a couple of readers was that if they reply with a "remove" message, nothing happens. Microsoft isn't the only company with this problem.

I would suggest that any company sending out bulk e-mail -- no matter how responsibly it might handle the rest of its operation -- becomes a spammer the first time it fails to act on a remove request.

The opposite of solicited e-mail is, of course, unsolicited e-mail. Most spam campaigns use a buckshot approach: load up the e-mail cannon and blast away. But some spammers do attempt to target their messages.

Targeting assumes the recipients can be identified as suitable goals for the message's pitch. In the real world, targeting is a science. A direct mail company might take several lists of five or 10 million names each and analyse them a dozen ways.

A direct mail company will slice and dice lists until it whittles them down to, say, 250,000 names, to whom it expects to have a reasonable chance of selling a product or service. This kind of care is necessary when each item the company sends out costs at least 50 cents or more.

But on the Internet, targeted spam is rare because the costs are minute.

Now in all the above cases, the bulk e-mailer wants to sell you something -- get rich quick, visit my site, buy this product and so on. But this new form of spam I received isn't trying to sell you anything. The author doesn't want you to go to any Web site, respond to the message or do anything. That is, anything other than believe him.

This message starts out discussing the good old Year 2000 problem and predicting gloom, doom and a gnashing of teeth. It then goes on to discuss religion -- it is actually a dressed up religious tract. The author says that the return address won't work and that no more messages will be sent. This is the digital version of anonymous pamphleteering.

I predict this kind of agenda spreading will become an enormous source of spam and will be much harder to deal with than commercially oriented spam. I haven't found a good name for this stuff yet, but propagandaware, e-prop and e-puff are contenders.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.
Show Comments


James Cook University - Master of Data Science Online Course

Learn more >


Sansai 6-Outlet Power Board + 4-Port USB Charging Station

Learn more >



Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?