Date: Fri, 7 Nov 1997 09:33:30 -0500 From: Grant Barrett Subject: Word of the Year My unofficial nomination for word of the year is: SPAM: unsolicited, bulk email (there is also a verb form). Alternate sense: to bombard people with useless information. Source possibly a Monty Python skit in which the name of the product "Spam" is used a zillion times in a list of menu possibilities in a comedic reference to the main source of meat in post-WWII Britain. Having received 86 pieces of email spam in October alone, I think this word stands a chance of winning. [Mild rant follows, with possibly interesting usages and words.] I get an increase of about 30% or more spam each month, and it all comes from just three sources: two entries at InterNic for domains registered under my name, and a single posting in Usenet. I am careful about the quantity of mail I receive. The thing that scares me the most is: I'm in for even more trouble; this week I posted almost a dozen messages to Usenet. I expect the mail to literally pour in. Folks, the delete key just isn't enough any more. I receive about 300 pieces of email a day, much of it job-related, about 40% from lists. I have an incoming filter set to route mail to certain storage folders, but it doesn't catch much spam (I do not use Eudora, so I can't partake of the constantly updated spam-source filters). I save all spam received in order to show it to people (like direct marketers) who claim it is often focused and targeted at prequalified email addresses. It isn't. If it was, I wouldn't have received email for the "Earth Smart Laundry CD" or for free golf balls or a list of celebrity addresses. Sex and multi-level marketing/pyramid schemes account for more than half of the solicitations [note American usage for "schemes" which includes a negative connotation]. This is where Internet-originated words like MAIL BOMB come in handy. [mail bomb: to send a virtually endless flood of unwelcome, large email to an email address in retaliation for perceived slights]. But you can't even send back nasty messages any more: I estimate 60% of the spam has FORGED HEADERS [forged headers: usually refers to fake return/reply addresses, but could include other information that appears in an email header (if your mail server or mail client doesn't filter them out)]. The only solution is: OPT-IN direct marketing, as opposed to OPT-OUT. Opt-in means you have to ask for it, opt-out means you have to ask not to receive it. There have been some attempts to set up OPT-OUT registries, but they have all fallen flat, and some have turned out to be trojan horses (in a non-computer virus sense), in that if you listed your address as an opt-out, you would actually then start receiving more mail. Obviously, if opt-out worked (and if all those stupid "remove" messages I sent before I realized that they didn't remove me from anything but only confirmed to the sender that my account was valid and active), then we wouldn't have a problem here. I receive the Direct Marketing trade magazines, and you might be surprised how many businesses are ramping up for full-scale assault via direct email marketing, and how many of them believe it is a legitimate commercial enterprise. Buckle up.