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At Last, A Cure For Spam 26 September 2002 Edition
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Believe it or not a cure for spam is readily available and 100% free -- so why isn't your ISP using it?

If you're like most Net users you're probably sick and tired of the amount of spam that arrives in your mailbox.

What's more, if you regularly access your email through your cellphone or other "pay by the byte" connection then your bank manager probably hates the stuff too.

So why don't we (or our ISPs) do something about stopping all this dross from polluting our lives, luring our kids to porno sites and making us feel inadequate about the size of our genitalia.

Well we're constantly being told that ISPs are already doing their best by implementing sophisticated rule-based filtering, blocking black-listed open relays, etc. So why are we still deluged with this garbage?

It seems that the fight against spam is simply too hard -- right?

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Well I'm not so sure.

Yesterday I thought I'd had another million-dollar idea. An absolute 100% foolproof way to block spam from your mailbox without worrying whether some overly agressive filter had accidentally thrown out an important bonafide message from someone important.

What's more -- it didn't require you to install new software on your PC, was fully compatible with all existing email clients and was virtually transparent to all email recipients.

Readers Say
(updated irregularly)
  • TDMA... - Tom
  • Spam Filtering Software... - Brendan
  • Spam filter... - Bahu
  • An NZ ISP does provide... - Barry
  • Spam Filters... - Paul
  • always requires review... - Tom
  • Your variant?... - Martin
  • Personally I don't think it... - Philip
  • spam filter... - Sam
  • Have Your Say

    I was feeling pretty pleased with myself -- until I realised that there was a 99.9% chance that whatever I'd thought of had already been suggested by someone else.

    After trawling the web for a while I came across proof that there are very few absolutely original ideas left.

    A variant of what I was considering has already been implemented and is available as an Open Source project (aka FREE!) that flies under the name Tagged Message Delivery Agent or TMDA for short.

    Although I like to think that my idea overcomes a number of deficiencies inherent in TMDA, it's basically very similar (there go the dreams of infinite wealth based on patent royalties).

    Have a read through exactly how TMDA works and I think you'll be pretty impressed.

    My question therefore is "why, oh why, aren't ISPs offering this system to eliminate spam in their users' mailboxes?"

    There's virtually no way that bulk unsolicited email can get past this simple but effective spam firewall and the code is free -- so why aren't all the ISPs offering it as an option? I know I'd be first to say "yes please"

    If enough ISPs installed this system, and enough users opted to use it, spammers would soon find that it was no longer worth their while to send bulk email. What's more -- people would become used to the fact that they need to confirm any genuine but unsolicited email they might wish to send another Net user.

    This (or at least my variant of it :-) really is a silver bullet against spam!

    If you agree with me that even with the help of filtering, spam is still a major problem, then why not email or ring your ISP to ask why they're not implementing TMDA on their mailservers?

    Would I be correct in suggesting that the first ISP in NZ who decides to implement this system might score more than a few spam-weary users keen to defect from those who don't?

    If you want to have your say on the contents of today's column then please do so. Only comments marked "For Publication" will (if I have time) be published in the readers' comments section.

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