You've got spam
Oh, this will deal with spam, lovely unicorn
You've Got Goodmail
By ESTHER DYSON
Published: March 17, 2006
A COMPANY called Goodmail Systems thinks it has come up with a potential (and partial) solution to the problem of spam and fraud on the Internet. According to Goodmail, market forces are the answer, rather than the kinds of ineffective regulations that have so far failed to solve the problems.
What Goodmail is proposing is a sort of FedEx for e-mail. For a penny or less per message, the sender gets guaranteed delivery for mail and the promise that it will stand out in the user's mailbox. The recipient pays nothing. (Goodmail, of which I am not an investor, has tested its system with the participation of a few companies, including this newspaper.)
Internet service providers like America Online, which receive and process mail in bulk, can share in Goodmail's revenue if they want, as long as they promise to pass the mail to their customers without filtering it for spam. The payment encourages AOL to adopt the service and to display a "certified e-mail" icon to users on each "stamped" message, indicating that the message is wanted and safe.
Goodmail's customers have to prove that recipients want their mail, and Goodmail checks the sender's mailing behavior and manages the quality of the mail through a system that makes it easy for recipients to complain about unwanted messages. Too many complaints and the senders lose their accounts.
This all sounds perfectly sensible to me, but Goodmail has been met with a barrage of criticism and calls for a de facto boycott from several nonprofit and public interest groups. These organizations seem to think that all Internet mail must always be free, just because it was free before. Yet they pay for computers and Internet access and office supplies, just like everyone else.
Goodmail, in my eyes, does not raise moral issues. It simply wants to make the Internet a better place — and yes, make a little money along the way.
Of course, the critics say, this is the first step. Pretty soon all mail will cost money, and then the free, open world of the Internet will be closed to poor people, nonprofits and other good guys, while multinational conglomerates fill their ever-growing pockets.
I agree that pretty soon sending most e-mail will cost money, but I think that's only right. It costs money to guarantee quality and safety. Moreover, I think the market will work, and that it will not shut out deserving senders, if we only let it work freely.
It's official; Esther Dyson has lost it. The whole "senders should be responsible for finding out if their email is wanted" goes right up there with "I want a unicorn for my birthday!!" A penny a message will still mean tons and tons and tons of spam. Also, note that the real hardcore spammers will just find a way to piggyback on other legit paying senders...
Well, Jen, you won't be getting a unicorn for your upcoming birthday and Esther Dyson is full of shit.
Why the fuck should e-mail cost money? Spamming is illegal and now the vultures at Goodmail want to sell the right to spam your mailbox. What? Mail from Sprint is just as much spam as mail from Nigerian 419 hustlers.
Who can afford to pay? America's largest corporations, who will be assured of now flodding your mailboxez with bullshit. New Egg can't afford that, nor can many of the small shops online. You think that won't be a hit for Lush or Kitbag or eBags, or even LL Bean? They will all be hurt by such a plan and their larger competitors.
Dyson is not and has never been a practical person. At best, she's a bullshit artist who tells corporate executives what they want to hear. She can say this isn't a bad idea, because it won't hurt her clients. It will fuck over everyone else.
posted by Steve @ 11:07:00 AM