Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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First Class E-Mail

More like Easter Seals, really.
  [vote for,

In exchange for the donation of either cash or spare processor cycles, charities or distributed computing projects provide donors with a number of digital signatures or "seals" -- probably just long, random GUID-like strings. E-mail software attaches one of these, along with the project name and server contact information, as an X- header on each message sent.

The destination e-mail client, if it supports this feature, then contacts that charity's server (or a secure server performing this task for a number of organizations) to confirm the signature, and the charity strikes it off its list to prevent re-use. If the header includes a signature from a charity you've never dealt with before, you may be prompted to accept (try to verify) or automatically reject all signatures from it; alternatively, you may forward all these to a third-party watchdog for information on the organization. If the signature checks out, your client will accept the message as legitimate.

Any charity or DC project can participate in this scheme. Users and watchdogs users support will decide which are legitimate. The basic criteria should be that they are non-profit, secure, and do not distribute seals for totally derisory amounts of money or computer time -- one cent apiece equivalent should be about right as a minimum.

Essentially, the idea is for very low, optional postage on e-mail. This has been suggested before as an anti-spam measure, but this idea differs in that it's properly international, user-controlled, independent of government, and directs the benefits (money, cycles, exposure) to causes the users choose. Because the system is just one optional level of validation, it doesn't require sudden worldwide acceptance; if it's useful, it will spread.

(There are other ways to manage the technical side of things -- seal distribution and vetting -- and some of them are probably a lot cleverer than the one used here. Suggestions welcome.)

Monkfish, Feb 09 2003

HashCash http://www.hashcash.org/
The "cash" is useless but at least it proves the sender "paid" it (and you don't have to contact anyone to verify it). [quarl, Nov 09 2004]


       One does already in both lifetime cost-of-use for the machine as well as the dear old power consumed.
bristolz, Feb 09 2003

       What if one makes a fake charity by hacking, then sends money to himself, then gets his headers and sends spam as "first class"?
galukalock, Feb 09 2003

       Well, the end user has to accept that an organization + server combination is legitimate. Since the judgements could get tricky, I suggest that third-party watchdogs (perhaps using existing registries) would be useful.   

       There's no need to hack or send money to pretend to be a charity, of course, so it may be that I'm not understanding you or that the idea's obscure.
Monkfish, Feb 10 2003

       Also, I forgot to add that although the scheme's optional and involves absurdly tiny amounts of money or otherwise idle processor time, it is indeed intended to be the thin end of the wedge in terms of shaking Dimandja down every time he turns on his PC. Some of the guys down at the agency wanted to just swipe his kidneys and be done with it, but I convinced them to slowly and steadily pile on taxes and fees until he finally wakes up one day in our nightmarish police state.
Monkfish, Feb 10 2003

       //This has been suggested before as an anti-spam measure//   

       It's very easy to implement. The key message is it doesn't require a lot of infrastructure. 1-3 are a good way to reduce email traffic. 4 is boring but it works.   

       (1) Manual set-up   

       Get a paypal (receiving) account, auto-reply to all messages with the following message:   

       Due to the increased traffic from SPAM and the rising cost of maintaining an email account, you are being invited to pay 20 cents (a dollar for emails requiring click-through), executables, java, and similar are prohibited. Messages not paid for will not be released."   

       Simply respond to email when the money starts to flow. Rake the money out of the paypal account whenever it builds up to intolerable levels.   

       (2) Auto set-up   

       Get a paypal account and a domain (or subdomain). Set up a system that does the above (but for real).   

       An interesting spin is to forward _all_ email. Paid-up email has "PAID:" in the subject line. That way you don't lose important/essential email, but you can sort and prioritise your browsing.   

       (3) Advertising (commercial)   

       Users could have a public email address that responds to all incoming mail with a hypertext link to the following website:   

       A site host/administrator could build a website filled with banners, click throughs and pop-up email. Users can choose the advertisers they want (sharper image-style stuff, amazon, or even p*rn). The only way to contact users is a web-form (that forwards to their private email address) buried eight layers deep in ads.   

       The referral traffic could be lucrative. Half the related revenues go to the relevant user and the rest goes to the site host.   

       (4) Email advertising   

       Like 3, but baked. Third party webmail is provided for free but with an ad tagline that the user has no control over. Advertising pays for the enhanced, feature-rich, but free service. E.g. www.fastmail.fm
FloridaManatee, Feb 10 2003

       I feel like charging for the reading of email of anyone outside of a list of "free" members. That way spammers get turned down when they don't pay, and people who you don't have on your list but still must urgently contact you will pay the twenty cents. Mailboxes (regular ones) are not overflowing with as much spam as our virtual ones because its so much cheaper to send email, and it's anonymity provides a petri dish for scamming, this charge would eliminate almost any scam I can think of.
Blumster, Nov 15 2004

       I kind of like the idea of taxing emails. Just 1 cent or so.
Ling, Mar 26 2015


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