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  • vs. Spam (Score:5, Insightful)

    I agree these are annoying. I won't even put ads on But to compare it to spam is to say people are forced to go to your web site. They aren't. The problem with spam isn't context, true, but it is the nature of it being forced on the user. If it is YOUR web site, then you are free to put on it what you wish. Comment spam is someone else putting spam on YOUR web site, where they do NOT have the freedom to say what they wish. Email spam is someone sending spam into YOUR mailbox. Etc.

    • Re:vs. Spam (Score:2, Interesting)

      Excellent point pudge.

      Sadly one thing which often seems to be missing in the discussion as to how to tackle spam the fundamental understanding of the issue at hand - Spam is an issue with consent, not content. It doesn't matter if the unsolicited email message received offers me a better deal on telephone costs or a herbal alternative to viagra - The issue at hand is consent. I may choose to receive information from my telephone provider about pricing offers and updates or indeed information about altern

      • Re:vs. Spam (Score:3, Insightful)

        The important factor determining whether an email received is indeed spam is the element of consent in the communication

        That's a fine mantra for personal communication, but it does not apply in business. If someone wants to send Horse Porn to our customers I don't care whether they have a subscription confirmation signed in blood or not. Some spam is about content, simply because of who owns the network.
        • Some spam is about content, simply because of who owns the network.

          I can certainly understand this position and indeed I do agree with the right of corporate entities to control for what purposes their network infrastructure is employed.

          The primary concern which I have with content filtering systems however is the sensitivity of some of these systems - Whilst some email can be determined as is distinctly unwanted based upon it's content, the definition between wanted and unwanted rapidly blurs when the sensitivity of an email filter is increased. Sales correspondence, legitimate promotion material, sales receipts, medical-related information and fiscal reporting information can all fall foul of overly sensitive email filters. Worse still is where such filters are applied network wide by internet service providers without the informed consent of the end subscriber.

          Whilst these issues can be avoided by a combination of systems and employ of appropriately (read, intelligently) weighted scoring for the rating of messages, the incidence of false negatives in such systems still provide the means and justification for the sending of unsolicited email by spammers. Until the incidence of such false negatives is rendered statistically insignificant, email filtering serves to provide spammers a reason to fashion the messages that they send in a manner which further blurs the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate email - It could be argued that such a relationship between spammers and anti-spam vendors is symbotically evolutionary in nature, as each further refine and build their product.

          In short, whilst I can understand the role of content filtering in controlling the receipt of unsolicited email, I do not believe that it is the end solution to spam and until such time that a 'silver bullet' is developed and endorsed by the technical community, fear that these filters could be doing more to perfect spam than prevent it.