Quit putting a goddamn dollar sign on every fucking thing on this planet!

-- Bill Hicks

I don't like business. I detest marketing. I can't stand marketing people. I loathe anything calling itself a sales staff. I hate adspeak. I deplore radio and television commercials, billboards and busboards, junk mail, circular flyers, telemarketers and phone surveys, product placement in movies and television, and perhaps most of all, I despise spam.

I mean, really. I've either reported or filtered all the email spam I've received since 1996. Currently, I filter half of it so that I don't have to deal with it, and I analyse and report the other half, which, because of unintelligible subject lines and bunk email addresses, I can't filter. That amounts to about 30 spams per day that don't get filtered. Many, many more are filtered, and by my reckoning I receive about 100 spams each day. Those spams that get through are subjected to header dissection and are then forwarded to whatever admin or abuse email addresses I can find in whois, ARIN, RIPE, APNIC, and/or LACNIC, plus whatever I can find referenced in the abuse.net abuse directory lookup. Because I don't admin the network I access the net from, I can't filter all this shit out of my mail at the DNS level.

The worst part about it all is that IT NEVER ENDS.

If anything, spam has been increasing during the past couple of years. I recently read somewhere (I think it was The Register) that the total amount of spam sent in July 2003 exceeded the total amount of spam sent in 2001 altogether. That's a mind-bogglingly large amount of spam. And it just keeps coming and coming. For every spammer I complain to an abuse department about, a hundred more show up. I'm aware that it's mostly the same few dozen people (Alan Ralsky, Bernard Balan, Super Zonda, Eddy Marin, etc.) behind most of the spam, but how they keep getting so many underlings to work for them is truly amazing, in the fact that so many clueless or unscrupulous people are willing to send the stuff. Honestly, they can't expect to do well trying to sell illegal Viagra substitutes, penis enlargement pills, fake university diplomas, cable television descramblers, porn, or get rich quick schemes, can they? I'd like to think that I'm not giving too much credit to the average person, but I guess if it wasn't profitable to market those things to average people, they probably wouldn't be doing it, despite the glee they seem to derive out of annoying people.

Not forgetting, of course, the staggering number of open proxy servers available to spammers, the fleet of unsecured SMTP servers and open relays that they need, that keep popping up as well. Based on the spam I receive and analyse, there isn't a single secure SMTP server or closed proxy to be found anywhere in Korea. China, on the other hand, is merely a front for spammers -- the Chinese government thinks it brings business, however shady, from Americans wanting a network to send their spam through, that won't ever go down. The national Chinese network (chinanet.com.cn) has not, as far as I've ever heard from anyone I know or anyone that posts to news.admin.net-abuse.email, ever responded to a complaint. No indeed! Their abuse@ and postmaster@ addresses regularly bounce whatever emails they receive. That same Register article indicated that 60% of spam this year has come from Chinese servers, mostly in the Chinanet netblock. Other antispammers I've known have taken to blocking the entire netblock of IP addresses in China, Korea, and Brasil, from whom another large amount of spam originates. I'd be doing the same thing if I had control over my ISP's DNS.

Of course, the primary source of spam is the USA. It's just that most American spammers, forced out of countless internet services providers for spamming, get accounts with foreign ISPs because they're known to be spam-friendly.

I've spent seven years of my life trying to fight spam, but just like everybody else, I don't really get anywhere with it, apart from a minor victory here and there when an ISP lets me know that they've terminated a spammer's account. Abandoning the internet would put a stop to my own personal battle with spam, but that would be letting the spammers win. It would also leave me with junk postal mail and telemarketers to deal with instead of spammers.

I'm not much of an activist for any cause, although I will continue fighting spam for as long as I can sit up straight in my desk chair. It's just a tiny effort to make the world a better place, but a tiny effort is better than apathy.