Tuesday, July 4

Spam! - The Nuisance

Spam! Spam! Spam! Spam!
By Mike Bryant

If you are like most everyone else in the world with an email address, you cringe every time you look at your inbox and see that 90% of your emails are from someone trying to sell you something. It gets to be a hassle, trying to sort the real emails from the junk, and I have more than once deleted an actual email thinking that it was junk. Of course, all this junk email we get has a name. And its name is Spam.

The term Spam as it relates to junk email can trace its origins back to 1994 or 1978, depending on who you ask. The 1994 incident, where a husband and wife lawyer team from Arizona ‘spammed’ around 6,000 newsgroups is generally accepted as the beginning, however. The fact that a lawyer started this whole mess makes me think that there might be a lawyer joke somewhere to be found here, but for fear of litigation I will not attempt to find it…

What is Spam, really? Well, aside from the mystery meat concoction sold in a can, it is really any unwanted email. Almost always these emails will try to sell you something. Sometimes they are intended to get you to visit a particular website or to make you think you have won something. The famous Nigerian scam is one of the most popular forms of spam. This is where you get an email from the brother/son/sister/daughter/uncle/etc of some high-ranking official in the Nigerian government. They inform you that the official has in his possession some large amount of American money, almost always in the millions of dollars. They then ask for your discreet help in getting this money into an American bank. And of course, they will reward you with tons of cash for helping them. It is really just a ploy to get you to send them money—don’t fall for it.

Very often folks wonder why people go through all the trouble to send these spam emails when almost no one ever buys anything from them. Well, the key to that is that ‘almost’ no one buys anything. When you send out 6,000,000 emails trying to sell some junk, if only one-half of one percent of the recipients buy it you’ve sold 30,000 products. That is why spam is so popular, and so frustrating.

There have been anti-spamming laws passed in recent years, but they are quite difficult to enforce. Unfortunately, spam may be with us for some time to come.

Now for the Cool Site of the Week… If you are interested in reading more about spam, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s site at www.ftc.gov/spam. There you will find more interesting facts and you can also report spammers.

As always, if you have any comment or suggestions please email me at mike@MikeBryant.com (no spam, please).

About the Author
Mike Bryant has worked as a professional software developer for over ten years. A born entrepreneur, he currently owns Centrant, LLC, a software consulting firm specializing in custom software for small businesses. He currently resides in Jackson, Kentucky with his wife, two kids, and five computers. For more information, please visit MikeBryant.com.

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