Throw away the Internet and start over?

Justin Mason jm at
Wed Apr 23 00:02:41 PDT 2003

Jeff Bone said:
> On Monday, Apr 21, 2003, at 23:59 US/Central, Mr. FoRK wrote:
> > If you have an email-like application that is immune to spam, just 
> > build it
> > & in a couple years (or months) the network effect will swing your way.
> BTW, just to be clear:  I'm not endorsing this idea.  I think it's 
> worth some consideration / exploration.
> Think about this:  a significant amount of all mail messages are being 
> read today through Web-based interfaces e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo, and 
> others.  These things already impose (different) resource models on top 
> of the venerable mailbox.  How tough would it be to abstract / 
> standardize this, close the "sending" loop and gain substantial 
> functionality in the process?  Not too tough, IMHO.

Yeah, but the problem of spam would not be fixed by such a beast.  That's
the issue that's driving this idea of replacing SMTP, and unless a new
protocol can actually solve that issue, it won't have made any difference,
apart from a lot of upgrade pain.

Consider that windows pop-up messaging spam is on the increase; that's
spammers bringing spam to another protocol (presumably because filters are
causing them too much pain in SMTPland these days ;)

In SMTP, the sender is not authenticated.  In SMTP-over-HTTP, there'll
still be spam, unless the sender is authed.  And who does the authing
across the entire internet?   Verisign? ;)

That's the problem.

On the other side, consider a protocol where spamming is hard: IM (at
least in the AIM/MSN case.  Note that ICQ was vulnerable to spam, and is
no longer used as a result as far as I can see.)

IM avoids spam, by moving to a model of "you can't IM me unless I add your
name to a whitelist first".  You can do that now, in SMTP, but it doesn't
fit some of SMTP's best use cases -- like this list.  SMTP has some
tricky use cases, where spam can come in...


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