(Originally posted at http://www.rjray.org/tech/good_intent.html. I don't usually aggregate from there to here, but I wanted widest-possible distribution.)
Thanks to the latest worm, I'm getting a renewed flood of junk e-mail. Most of it is caught by my ISP's spam filter. But there is another contributor to the madness, a source that probably didn't mean to be making the problem worse. And yet...
I have seen a serious percentage of these e-mails that are not the actual virus messages, but instead are auto-reply messages from spam filtering systems, most often tied to SpamAssassin (as a loyal user, I also recognize the report format). It looks like there are a lot of people out there who mean to punish the spammers by returning messages to them, thus causing them the same level of headache they cause (higher, in theory, since others are doing the same thing). But that isn't working. How do I know this? Because I'm not the one sending the virus messages.
These virus mails are going out because someone who got infected has me in their addressbook. Sending me the auto-reply simply because that is the address on the "From" line isn't doing anything (aside from making me a little bit more annoyed). I understand the reasoning behind this-- hell, I've thought about doing something similar. But if I'm getting this many returns, then there are certainly people out there getting even more than I have.
So if you are one of the people doing this auto-reply mojo, please stop it. I hate to break the news, but I doubt that any spammers are going to be truly moved by your efforts. Meanwhile, there are a lot of people who are already getting more than enough useless messages because of the virus. At least the virus messages are caught by the filters. The replies aren't, because they don't look like spam. So I'm getting more of this faux-spam than I'm getting of the real thing. Please stop.