Posted by: 2stepsback | October 12, 2007

More IPR-lefted spam fighting ideas

I support opensource (now that Microsoft has its own version called shared source, is there anyone else left to bicker mindlessly?) and I hate software patents. Is there any progressiveness or constructiveness or social-ness to them?
Read the previous posts to see why software patents are a very bad thing for everybody, big corporations to small coders to tiny users.

Back to spam. Spam is everyone’s problem. Since everyone does similar things to fight spam, and so as to not restrict any new spam-fighting ideas to any one entity, this idea of mine is free – as in freedom – for everyone to use for any purpose, including analyzing my psyche 😉 .

This also qualifies as prior art IF no one else has thought up this idea, until right now, which is Friday, October 12, 2007 at 11:09:35(UTC)

I went around the debian site looking for several things, including work, and found this list concerning spam-fighting:
http://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/pkgreport.cgi?pkg=listarchives;dist=unstable#_0_4_0
“Will Not Fix”! (gasp!) Definitely not debian-like.
And so I went on discussing with the kind folks at #debian.
Turns out debian mailing list archives are so open that email harvesters can read emails as well. The exact problem was this:
How do you obfuscate the email-address well-enough for infintely intelligent and well-resourced spammers to not decipher, and simultaneously keep the email address visible to human readers (wanting to approach the poster)?

Several solutions come up:

  • Catpchas – like Google groups. But no, that means a lot of rework in migration to another system, for a system under such load. [last alternative]
  • Using MHonArc’s built-in email-hiding capability. But it hides part of the email. So, it defeats the very purpose. So, what do you do?
    Bingo! – why not make all email addresses hidden so that they do indeed defeat the very purpose, BUT, start another service that allows people to extract email addresses upon explicit request (though not public)?
    So, write more code to mess up even more? No.
    Just start another mailing list/service for the purpose of identification of users and obviously don’t publish archives for this one. Also, email ids are revealed only to you as an email reply. Naturally, the administrators are always aware of how many requests are received from a given subscriber. If a spammer has subscribed and is trying this method to extract addresses it is a trivial matter to identify and ban the spammer or ask him why he wants so many email addresses. If he has a legitimate reason, give, else block.
    Finally, the mailing list could simply direct the email to the person whose identity is sought with full details of the request. Upon getting an OK reply from the recipient, his email address can be sent in full to the requester.
    Feel free to embrace, extend and extinguish, debate, suggest, but please, keep it clean. Clean of IPR and software patents as well. See what GNU/FSF has to say about Software Patents and IPR. See Oracle’s Policy on Software Patents.
  • Another idea is a Unique ID for each user and it is substitiuted in place of the email address in the display so that no part of the email address is revealed thereby making it much safer. And for people requesting the email address of another person, the identification list idea should work.

I hereby release this idea as free, as in freedom, to everyone to use as they wish. No money, no fees, no contracts, no legal theories.
“Patent-left”, “Intellectual Property Left” or “IPR-Left”

Note that I know two local anti-spam-solution vendors whom I could approach to make good money. But this problem of spam is global. Everybody needs this solution. So monopoly, “exclusive” are not the right thing to do in this case.
I do not know whether this idea is already present in any product or thought up by anyone. Neither have I bothered to look. I thought it up.

Thank you!
Have a nice day!

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