Users are Ignorant, Badly Behaved, and the Leading Cause of Spam
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According to an analyst at Radicati, and related reports by InformationWeek and the BBC, “user ignorance” and “bad behaviour” is the leading cause of spam. According to Marcel Nienhuis, an analyst with Radicati, “Major advancements in technology approaches that routinely achieve 90%-plus catch-rates are becoming widely available, yet no technology in the world can protect an organization if users exercise bad E-mail behavior.”

InformationWeek’s headline on the story reads “User Ignorance To Blame For Spam” and the BBC explains that “The ‘bad behaviour’ of e-mail users is helping to sustain the spam industry.”


I dunno. Isn’t that a little like blaming the victim? The old “she asked for it”?

Now Aunty is the first to agree that, as a user, if you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem, but Aunty is also pretty sure that it isn’t the users who are pressing “send” and injecting the spam into the Internet stream. Aunty is pretty sure that it’s the spammers.

I mean, we don’t blame the drug users for the existence of the drug market.

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Or do we?

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The Internet Patrol is and always has been free. We don't hide our articles behind a paywall, or restrict the number of articles you can read in a month if you don't give us money. That said, it does cost us money to run the site, so if something you read here was helpful or useful, won't you consider donating something to help keep the Internet Patrol free?
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4 thoughts on “Users are Ignorant, Badly Behaved, and the Leading Cause of Spam
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  1. Drug users/drug market really isn’t a fair analogy. After all, ‘if users didn’t buy, the drug market wouldn’t exist’, but would spam stop if people didn’t buy? The cost (near $0) and the reach (near universal – Internet universe, anyway) make SPAM an excellent medium for more than commercial messages.

    This is different than the drug market. (Besides, no human society has ever eliminated drugs; any society can eliminate SPAM – just turn off the ‘net or its equivalent.)

  2. It’s only blaming the victim if you consider all users to be the same. Really there are two groups: those who accept spam (buying from it, clicking on links they shouldn’t) and those who reject it (deleting, filtering, complaining, stalking, whatever). But for the most part, it’s easier for spammers to ignore the difference and treat them as one group.

    It’s like being back in high school gym class, where one goof-off does something stupid, but everyone has to run laps.

  3. Actually, we do blame drug users for the market… eliminate the demand, the supply dies a quiet death (which is the point of all “just say no” type programs).

    In the case of Spam, though… I’d blame user ignorance more than the users themselves. Since users have technology thrust on them that they don’t (and won’t) understand, the responsibility for educating and protecting users (from each other) should fall on the ISP.

  4. If people wouldn’t reply to the messages, or worse, BUY THEY’RE SELLING, then there wouldn’t be much spam. So, to that extent I would blame the users, just like with drugs.

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