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The SPAM Problem. And The "SPAM Dollars" Solution

Warning: this is not specific to real estate technology, so if that’s what you’re looking for on this Monday morning, you can browse to the next article.

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You all know the drill all too well. Those that know me know I’m a sucker for letting SPAM get to me. Instead of just deleting it, I think about it, write blog posts about it, and wonder why people would waste their lives spamming others for a living. So, I guess, spammers get the best of me in a way.

Lani Rosales and I were chatting about SPAM the other day on Twitter (as a result of this blog post on Agent Genius). We dreamed up a competition that may or may not (we’ll come back to the not part in a minute) be fun to partake in. It’s a competition for the most SPAM Dollars. Here’s how it would work:

  1. For every spam email you receive, you need to email them back and tell them they owe you $45, $75, or some other dollar amount (update: $229 or $245 was what Lani and I originally discussed) for wasting your time. Whatever the time they wasted is worth.
  2. Keep a tally on how many “spam dollars” you have “earned”.
  3. Compare your “spam dollars” with others in the industry and see who wins for a given week or month (or, gasp, year?).

As for the “not fun” mention above. I tried this tactic on one spammer. I pulled a message out of my spam folder, emailed him, and told him he owed me $245 for wasting my time. I got no response, but I did get another SPAM message from him next day (the same one as I emailed him about) — and this time, it appeared in my inbox instead of in my SPAM folder since Google had realized that I emailed that address before.


Honestly, I think the only viable alternative to SPAM is to collaborate and pay for a server farm — and SPAM the SPAMMERS. Just keep a big collective list of IPs and email addresses and literally pound them with our own SPAM until their servers crash.

Or maybe spammers will always get the best of us. What do you think?

And PS: Twitter Search SUCKS. I was trying to find my conversation with Lani last week, with no luck. So, since Twitter Search sucks and my memory isn’t perfect, Lani can correct me if any details of the spam dollars competition are incorrect.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog / Geek Estate Labs. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • Andrew Mattie

    “Honestly, I think the only viable alternative to SPAM is to collaborate and pay for a server farm — and SPAM the SPAMMERS.”

    Blue Security tried this a few years ago and failed miserably. As the company’s tactic actually worked against the spammers, they fought back and pretty much destroyed the VC-backed company. The Wired article I linked to is a fascinating read for when you have the time.

    The best way to mitigate the effects of spam is to quit giving it your time and attention. 😉

    • Damn it. I can’t win.

      You know me – I can’t ignore their stupidity. It’s just too entertaining, and I have to rant every now and then. And, yes, it’s a waste of my time. But I guess I’m okay with it. Spammers really just need to get a friggin life. How can they live day in day out knowing the WASTE thousands of hours of people’s time every day for no reason?

  • The spam economy consists of a hierarchy of clients, suppliers and distributors with almost all of them operating with dummy or throwaway identities/accounts on powerful servers or hacked computers around the world.

    Andrew is right, the best defence is to use a good anti-spam solution (like GMail) and ignore all others.

  • I wish there were effective tools for us to use against spammers. I do have to say I am much happier with Google’s spam filtering since our office moved servers to them.

  • I have become a bigger fan of SPAM scams on Social networks. Have you seen the one that claims it will show you who is ‘stalking’ your facebook profile, but then just mines you for survey info? This is why SPAM marketing is so exciting, you throw out the rule book and just manipulate minds.

    Those spammers saw a market and demand that no legitimate business would want to touch, self-obsessed teens who REALLY want to know who is giving them attention and why. They figured out a way to sell them something (sort of)… and thats beautiful business innovation.

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