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Ken Magill

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Open Letter to Anti-Spammer Dan Balsam: Congratulations and Thank You

2/28/12

Dear Dan Balsam:

Congratulations on your recent anti-spam lawsuit victory against email-marketing firm TRANCOS!

Man, you really hit a grand slam on that one.

A California appeals court reportedly awarded you $7,000 in damages and nearly $82,000 in attorney fees. That’s $89,000 smackers. Wow. That should be enough to fund more lawsuits. You do seem to file a bunch of them, after all.

So far, you’ve won, like, more than 50 anti-spam small claims suits, right? A regular anti-spam juggernaut, you are.

According to reports, in the suit against TRANCOS you argued the company sent you eight unsolicited emails—Wow, eight. How did you handle the burden?—with deceptive header information in violation of California law.

For example, the “from” line in each e-mail named nonexistent sources such as “Christian Dating,” “Your Promotion,” “Bank Wire Transfer Available,” “Dating Generic,” “Paid Survey” and “Join Elite.”

The "Paid Survey" pitch reportedly came from survey@misstepoutcome.com. But there apparently is no company at misstepoutcome.com. The URL certainly doesn’t load.

So you sued. And won. And now I’ve been enlightened.

A quick check of my Gmail spam folder reveals messages sent by “Divorce Attorney,” “100DayLoans,” “Big Beautiful Singles,” “Psoriasis Help,” “Plus Sizes” and “Bra,” among others.

If it weren’t for you, Dan, I’d have thought I was receiving these messages because I’m a fat guy with bad skin who needs a bra [Boy, man boobs can be a bummer, can’t they?] loves fat women, needs a loan and is about to lose his wife.

Phew!

And the from addresses: mycareerangle.com, yournewcarinfospot.com, mymostconvenientjobs.com, clothingabundance.net, availablewatch.com and today.net.

I thought those were the names of real companies. Now I know better.

So now that you’ve enlightened me, I have a question. Why do those emails continue to arrive in my spam folder at a rate of between 20 and 30 an hour?

I mean, didn’t you take care of this problem? Shouldn’t they have stopped by now? Or at least slowed down?

Oh well. Not your fault, I guess. I just wish I could see some evidence—any evidence at all, really—that your herculean efforts are paying off. I guess you’d have to file, like, 500 lawsuits a year for, oh, about 1,000 years and win them all for us to see any real progress, right? Well, good on you for trying.

It’s not like you’re lodging trivial complaints and tying up valuable court time that could be used to decide disputes where people have legitimate complaints and have been actually harmed, right?

One thing I want to thank you for, though, is how your lawsuits have helped my inbox provider determine what is and is not spam and deliver it accordingly.

Nothing, and I mean nothing, that I don’t want is getting into my inbox. It is as spam free as a yellow-and-blue can of Hormel meat in the Magill household after breakfast on Sunday mornings.

Did you know SPAM is great with maple syrup? You should try it sometime. Mmmm. Mmm. I’m a diabetic and can no longer consume real maple syrup—Well, I could but it’s not worth losing a foot over, you know?—so I have to use the sugar-free stuff. But even the fake syrup over SPAM with maybe a scrambled egg on the side makes for a pretty yummy morning meal.

Make sure you eat the low-sodium stuff, though. It tastes just as good and is not as bad for you as the regular. Oh, and make sure you try the SPAM with bacon. Eating that stuff alternates between a religious and sexual experience, depending on who’s around, of course.

Wait. What? What was that? Your lawsuits have done nothing to help ISPs sort spam?

Really? Nothing at all?

Squat? Bugger all? Zip? Diddly?

Are you seriously telling me the reason my inbox is spam free is due to technological advances created by a bunch of whip-smarty geeks over a period of years?

So you haven’t slowed spam by even the teensiest fraction of a trickle.

Huh.

And you are in no way even in part responsible for the fact that my multiple inbox providers are able to sort unwanted from wanted messaging with astonishing accuracy.

So then, what exactly is it you’re accomplishing?

Sincerely:

Ken Magill

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Terms: Feel free to be as big a jerk as you want, but don't attack anyone other than me personally. And don't criticize people or companies other than me anonymously. Got something crappy to say? Say it under your real name. Anonymous potshots and personal attacks aimed at me, however, are fine.

Posted by: Brian McNett
Date: 2012-02-28 17:53:28
Subject: Fighting Spammers vs. Fighting Spam

The guys suing spammers rarely collect. It's clearly a mistake to think that going after the spammer in court does anything at all. One spammer goes down, another takes his place, and the spam continues. The guys that folks like Dan never sue don't even care. Want to really cheese off a spammer? Don't fight him. Take a good look at the spam. Do a deep analysis. Write a better filter as a result. Share your filter far and wide, but make it next to impossible for the spammers to tell just what you did. You're right, of course. Guys like Dan are a side-show. Fighting Spammers doesn't do anything to stop spam. It's a pity that in fourteen years some folks still haven't figured that ou.

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