[FoRK] At what point is email officially broken?

Aaron Burt < aaron at bavariati.org > on > Thu Dec 7 11:49:35 PST 2006

On Thu, Dec 07, 2006 at 09:42:50AM -0800, Jim Whitehead wrote:
> >Why, yes, I got that the first time.  What specifically needs fixing?
> 
> This is trolling for a specific technical recommendation. I don't  
> want to go down that particular path.

I must be mistaken, because I'm reading that as, "It's broken, but I
won't tell you what needs fixing.  But fix it NOW!" 
I'm a young guy, so I got tired of hearing that only about 15 years ago.

I asked because I would like the conversation to advance beyond, "This
useful tool is being abused by someone!  Make it stop!"

> I want to focus on my main point, which is the current email  
> infrastructure is broken in the sense that it permits excessively  
> large amounts of spam. Once there is agreement that the current  
> infrastructure is broken, then we can begin to examine the design  
> space of possible solutions.

We do not have agreement, then.  I don't think it's a difference of
opinions, but a difference of perceptions and paradigms.

> Yes, I did read the document you referenced (http://www.craphound.com/ 
> spamsolutions.txt). One can view it as an attempt to defend the  
> existing infrastructure by pointing out problems in the suggested  
> fixes.

If one were to take an adversarial view of sysadmins, one could.

Actually, it is an attempt to dissuade proponents of the usual
half-baked "solutions" from wasting the time of the folks who are
actually trying to address the problem.  It is also a way to get
interested parties up to speed on the current discussion.

> It doesn't work: even after all of the half-baked solutions  have been
> (rightfully) dismissed, the spam problem is still with us,  and email
> is still slowly dying.

Strange: Email works for me and everyone I know.  Recently, I went from
deleting ~5 spams a day to deleting ~10.  Oh, well, kinda sucks that the
USA is a spammer and botnet free-for-all.  Is it worse for you?

> A more productive way to view (http://www.craphound.com/ 
> spamsolutions.txt) is as a series of goals for a new email  
> infrastructure (avoid these known pitfalls).

I'm grateful that you got my point.

> My point is that eliminating Windows and Outlook would mean that  
> security attacks would start focusing on whatever became the existing  
> dominant platform.

Correct.  And they would have a *much* harder time doing it.

All this talk of elimination.  You can't eliminate any human behavior.
You can only make it less rewarding, more difficult or less harmful.


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