[F**K +/-/!5] Re: Anti-Spam Idea

Jeffrey Kay jeff@k2.com
Fri, 5 Apr 2002 17:42:50 -0500

Perhaps they will make warez that look for tokens, but one of the keys to an approach like
this is to change the token from time to time.  If the token is embedded in a sentence
appended to an e-mail, then it'll be much harder to process -- probably analogous to doing
semantic analysis to determine whether or not an e-mail is spam in the first place.  You
could randomly generate a token as often as once a day.  I'd probably do that and expire
each one weekly as a first go.  That would give someone a seven day window to use the
token to post to the list.

Since we're talking about folks who are not current subscribers, that means that the
messages using tokens will be coming primarily from cross-posted and forwarded messages.

http://xent.com/mailman/listinfo/fork : Anti-Spam Control : If you are not a subscriber to
FoRK and are posting a reply to FoRK for the first time, please include "[F**K+/-/!5]"
somewhere in the subject of your reply.  You only need to include the token on your first

(I removed the space from Tom's example on purpose to eliminate an accidental line break)

You know, if you really want to even defeat virtually any token scanning, you could just
include instructions for how to construct a token (e.g. please include tomorrow's date in
mm-dd-yy format somewhere in the subject line).  I think we probably have more than 2
years without going to that extreme, however.  Whitelists are not a very common technique
for addressing spam and some of the techniques that spammers use now to evade spam filters
would make this approach even stronger (e.g. continuously changing the "from" e-mail
address).  Someone would have to purposely target this list to evade it -- so it won't
stop someone from making a purposeful post to the list with an advertisement, but it would
stop "Important News About: Your Destiny, Your Master Astrologer" and "Your Vacation
Winning!" -- messages that come from spam generators.

Gary's comment about the number of spam items is a good point -- after I sent the idea, I
started thinking about what the ratio was also.  The ratios might not be bad enough now,
but it generated enough conversation that I started to think about how to solve the
problem anyway.

-- jeffrey kay
weblog  <www.k2.com>
"first get your facts, then you can distort them at your leisure" -- mark twain
"golf is an endless series of tragedies obscured by the occasional miracle" -- sports
"if A equals success, then the formula is A equals X plus Y plus Z. X is work. Y is play.
Z is keep your mouth shut." -- albert einstein

> -----Original Message-----
> From: fork-admin@xent.com [mailto:fork-admin@xent.com]On Behalf Of Tom
> Sent: Friday, April 05, 2002 11:01 AM
> To: ThosStew@aol.com
> Cc: fork@xent.com
> Subject: [F**K +/-/!5] Re: Anti-Spam Idea
> On Fri, 5 Apr 2002 ThosStew@aol.com wrote:
> --]In a message dated 4/5/2002 10:19:57 AM, jeff@k2.com writes:
> --]special token
> --]
> --]I think this is a really smart idea
> --]
> UNtil they mak warez to scour lists for tokens.
> Dont get me wring, its a a step forward that will keep em off our backs in
> the mean time...untill they learn the token.
> I say it buys us 1.5 to 2 years , which is more than enough to justify
> doing it...SO whats our token (F**K +/-/!5)?
> -tom
> -----Original Message-----
> From: garym@maya.dyndns.org [mailto:garym@maya.dyndns.org]On Behalf Of
> Gary Lawrence Murphy
> Sent: Friday, April 05, 2002 12:16 PM
> To: Jeffrey Kay
> Cc: Eugen Leitl; FoRK
> Subject: Re: Anti-Spam Idea
> In this session I received 17 FoRK messages.
>     10 were actual bits
>     7 were anti-spam rants (ahem, er, proposals)
>     0 were spam
> Since I last purged read messages (Mar-22): (404 messages)
>     40 were anti-spam rants
>     28 were "please stop posting in HTML"
>     26 were about the Queen Mum
>     2  were spam (Mellisa + eCard)