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Spam Chemotherapy

Neuter spam with random character substitution
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(+8, -2)
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Spam is different to other emails in that it normally requires the recipient to respond to a url in order for it to be of any use to the spammer.

We also know that the level of english used in the average email is not always of the highest quality.

We also know that people who put their email address in the hands of spammers by signing up to various websites are prone to be inundated with spam.

We also know taht mispeelng wrods deosn't rmoeve a raeder's ablitity to nuderstnad a gvien mssegae.

Why not create a program that substitutes characters in email messages that kills those messages' ability to 'link' elsewhere, while maintaining the usefulness of the communication.

So
XXX Girls get some for free
http://www.spamgirls.co.ed?34jfsxz<live link>
becomes
XYX Grils get som for frea
http://www.spmagrils.co.ed?31jxsfz <dead link>

While your Mum reminding you to pick up the shopping on your way home remains largely the same.

Either way, spam delivered through a server operating under this policy never returns any positive results for the spammasters, while simultaneously allowing your regular communications to slip through largely intact and comprehendable.

zen_tom, May 26 2005

Wrod jnuibmlg http://www.fastlane...ex.cgi?jumbler.html
Test the theory [Detly, May 27 2005]

[link]






       Why not just search for urls and erase the corresponding messages? Cause then mum couldn't send you urls of the new porn she found?
daseva, May 26 2005
  

       AOL used to function like that, no html ... links that rendered as plain text ... nonconverting files ... disbased page hell ... everything spammers hate except for data corruption. You mean, *sniff*, YOU miss AOL too?
reensure, May 26 2005
  

       Ah, what the hell... Let's stop beating around the bush and slaughter the English language for good. [-]
justaguy, May 26 2005
  

       The point is that our language is so good that it can cope with a certain amount of redundancy, while urls simply can't.   

       Yes it's extreme (and slightly annoying as per [reensure]'s AOL *spit* example) but if implemented on a wide scale, it might hurt the spammers, in the same way that radio or chemotherapy slows down cancer.   

       [Edit] In fact, that's a much better analogy, title changed.
zen_tom, May 26 2005
  

       Still, the people likely to use this technology are the same ones that would never click on a link from spam. So unless it was somehow mandated, Ma Kettle with her brand new internet connection would still be providing the requisite revenue stream.
justaguy, May 26 2005
  

       This is purely half-baked. You are preparing to read all of your emails in broken english just so you don't have to sift through a little spam. Crazy.   

       Bunned.
daseva, May 26 2005
  

       And if the purpose is to disable the links, why not just disable them entirely? Oh right, because some links that are sent to you in emails are actually useful.
justaguy, May 26 2005
  

       For it to work, it would have to be over a wide area, placing it at a server level.   

       If people could put up with the pain for a month or two, it might dent the revenue streams of the spammers enough to put them out of business for a while.   

       The implementation could be engineered as a set of viruses that infiltrated internet relay systems and substituted random characters on messages in transit.   

       I'm not suggesting this as a viable option for ever (just as chemotherapy is not a viable long-term treatment for cancer)   

       It evidently isn't a complete solution, and has many pitfalls - but I do think it would have the required effect - for a while.
zen_tom, May 26 2005
  

       [justaguy] yes, disabling the links - but how? You can either do that at the client level, by altering the client code, but there are too many clients, and too many PCs to make that a viable option.   

       Or you can do it at a server level - yes, you could probably do a selective find/replace on the string 'http://' or something similar, and wipe, or substitute the next few characters, but with all the traffic going through, I think it could actually be faster to corrupt say 5-10% of the entire email with the same results.
zen_tom, May 26 2005
  

       Yes, BUT... whose server? It would have to be implemented by every major ISP in the country for it to work, and they just wouldn't do it because of the blowback they would get from people who just don't want jumbled emails, dammit. Doubly so if it were a virus, since that's not a terribly legal thing to do.   

       I fear this is rapidly becoming a let's-all.
justaguy, May 26 2005
  

       L33Ts all.
reensure, May 26 2005
  

       Alright, order confirmation numbers gone awry!   

       Password retrieval? nah, just shoot it into my head via morse code bullets!!
daseva, May 26 2005
  

       [daseva] and [justaguy] I sense you guys are not fully buying into this idea here.   

       Let me address some points, before making some new ones.   

       Password retrieval and order numbers can be delivered using phonetic, and natural language numbers   

       Order Number: B4AHQ1
becomes
Ordre Nembur: Barvo Fuor Aplha Hotol Quavre Oen
  

       As for this becoming a |_3+'5 4||, due to it's structure, that is an difficult accusation to avoid when talking about the internet - However, by altering a small number of primary routers, you're likely to catch a majority of the traffic. For example there is already the capability for governments with their national listening centres to manage this because each country has a limited number of input and output nodes.(Yes this sounds like it's starting to be one of THOSE annotations, but I assure you they ARE watching) I wouldn't be surprised if a crude form of the 80/20 rule applies here.   

       However, more than a serious consideration for solving the problem of spam, I do think (If I say so myself) that parrallels between the internet and large organisms are going to become more and more relevant in the future - that's not saying anything new (I remember it being alluded to in the 80's) but, I do think it is proving truer and truer as time marches on.
zen_tom, May 27 2005
  

       // Spam is different to other emails in that it normally requires the recipient to respond to a url in order for it to be of any use to the spammer. //   

       That's not the only danger. Just viewing an HTML email that contains image files is enough to notify the spammer that the email address is live and kicking.   

       (Most email apps are handling this now by not loading imagery unless you say so.)
waugsqueke, May 27 2005
  

       Or not loading HTML messages until you confirm it (KMail) or not viewing HTML messages at all (PINE).
Detly, May 27 2005
  

       Right. My server displays the HTML base but strips the file ... can't be forwarded. They also prosecute spammers upon notification. Hence, I receive only my daily boxful of 4I¶, but no sales or soliciations.
reensure, May 27 2005
  

       //Let's stop beating around the bush and slaughter the English language for good// Warum? Just about everyone with e-mail gets spam messages.
froglet, May 28 2005
  
      
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