Brad Feld

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The War on Spam Continues

Jul 26, 2005
Category Investments

Spam is one of the flagship members of the Internet Axis of Evil – it sucks worse than War of the Worlds.  I’ve been supporting the war against spam through my investments in Postini and Return Path and I plan to continue to do whatever I can to help eradicate this scourge from Planet Internet.

While it would be nice if spam just disappeared, it’s not going to anytime soon.  So – in addition to attacking spam, it’s time to really address the “legitimate email issue.”  Return Path has been after this for a while and just released a new version of their email delivery monitoring tools.  Today – TRUSTe (a non-profit dedicated to online privacy issues) launched an “Email Privacy Seal Program” – members of this program can confidently say “We Don’t Spam.”

As I’ve gotten deeper in to the spam issue, it’s clear that it’s needs to be addressed from both sides.  The obvious side – prevent the bad shit – is what the anti-spam companies like Postini do.  The less obvious side – allow the good stuff through (which also includes “tell consumers who is good and who is bad”) is becoming more central to the war.  Return Path and TRUSTe are doing good things around this.

About every three months I hear someone say “RSS will eliminate email (implying that the spam issue will go away).”  This is a ridiculous construct – Matt Blumberg the CEO of Return Path has several good posts on this so I’ll refer to him rather than repeat what he has to say.  But – Matt gets it – he knows email, knows RSS, knows online marketing, and – well – generally has a clue.  If you care about this issue, you should pay attention to what he’s up to and what he’s thinking.

Of course – spam has moved well beyond email at this point.  My email spam issue completely under control because of the magic of Postini.  However, I get between 50 and 100 comment and trackback spams on a good day (and several hundred on a bad day).  My tools for this suck – SixApart is promising new happiness in MT 3.2, but for the time being I’m struggling along with the MT-Blacklist plug-in.  Michael Parekh tells an entertaining story of the ineptness of my blog when he tried to comment. 

While the world would be better if jerks didn’t feel compelled to write software that posted crap like:

Title: מטבחים
Weblog: מטבחים
Tell us what you like about the &#1502;&#1496;&#1489;&#1495;&#1497;&#1501; events and what you think would make them even better. You are the key to making your <a href=’’>&#1502;&#1496;&#1489;&#1495;&#1497;&#1501;</a>…

to my blog, having lived through the last 10 years of the email spam wars, I accept that we’ll have continued fun with all sorts of new variants.  Ironically, I recognize that this helps power the “technology perpetual machine” – I guess that’s just something we have to live with.