September 8, 2001


Nearly every piece of Spam I receive (and as postmaster for several domains I receive a lot) is fraudulent. I get pyramid schemes, breast enlargement nostrums, plans for defrauding the Nigerian government, promises of FREE Bahamas vacations. But I almost never see honest spam -- a simple advertising offer for a legitimate product.

Contrast this with telemarketing. Cold calling is even more intrusive than spam, and is much more expensive to screen. Yet I get cold calls all the time for legitimate offers: phone companies, stock brokers, insurance and benefits plans, head hunters, even the foolish minister of the local Baptist church who set his family to cold-calling prospects for salvation one Sunday afternoon during the height of the football season. These may not be exciting advertising offers, but they're genuine propositions; why is spam limited to fraud?