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Spam is Bad

Note to the archiver and readers:

The original post is (c) Copyright 1995 Henry Neeman and is being used with his permission. Mr. Neeman has given permission in a reposting to copy the essay for use in web pages, etc. as long as he is credited as the original author. Persons wishing to use the essay in for-profit works should of course contact Mr. Neeman.

History: Mr. Neeman originally wrote this back in 1995, dealing with a particularly dense bunch of spammers known as Democratech. It was explained by many folks on news.admin.net-abuse.misc (including myself) that what Democratech did was in fact spam, no matter how well-intended.

They still did not Get It. Henceforth, the post which would soon be known as "spam is bad" was posted, and became a minor cult classic on NANAM to the point it was reposted in 1996 due to popular request. (It was at that time Mr. Neeman gave permission to use this in replies to spammers, archival on web pages and the like.)

As this is very likely the simplest possible explanation of what spam is and why it is bad, the following is presented for your perusal.

******************************************************************************
From: hneeman@ncsa.uiuc.edu (Henry Neeman)
Newsgroups: news.admin.net-abuse.misc
Subject: Re: Is democratech.org the next Canter and Siegel?
Date: Thu, 18 May 1995 17:25:16 GMT
Organization: Nat'l Ctr for Supercomp App (NCSA) @ University of Illinois
Lines: 103

This note is directed at the various Democratech representatives posting from feedback@democratech.org. Up until now, they have seemed not to understand what we've been saying, so I'm putting it in simple English. Everything below is in simple sentences of one syllable words only.

-----BEGIN SIMPLE ENGLISH MESSAGE-----

You do not get it. I will tell you. I hope you will get it.

You spammed.

We do not like spam. Spam is bad. Spam hurts the net. We like the net. So we do not like spam. In fact, we hate spam.

What is spam? Spam is the same thing lots and lots of times.

What is lots and lots? We will not tell you. Why? We think you might post one less, and then say it is not spam. But we will tell you this: count the things on your hands and feet. It is near that.

What is spam not? Spam is not a bad post. Spam is not a bad post lots and lots of times. Spam is not a post in the wrong place. Spam is not a bad post in the wrong place lots and lots of times.

Spam is the same thing lots and lots of times.

We do not care what is in a spam. We do not care if it is in the right place or the wrong place. If we cared, that would be bad. If we did not like a post, we could say it is bad, so it is spam. Or we could say it is in the wrong place, so it is spam. That would be worse than spam. So we say a thing is spam if it is the same thing lots and lots of times.

One more time: spam is the same thing lots and lots of times.

Why is spam bad? The more times it is there, the more room it takes on each site's disk, and the more time it takes to get it to all of the sites. It should take just a small bit of room on each site's disk, and take just a small bit of time to get there. So spam is a lot of waste.

Why else is spam bad? The more times it is there, the more times we have to see it. Some folks pay for their news by the note, or by the byte, or by how much time it takes them to get it. Some have to pay for each post in a group they read, and their site does not care if they read the post. So spam is not fair.

Why else is spam bad? Spam makes folks mad. They post notes and say that they are mad. Lots and lots of notes. We call these notes "flames." So spam makes lots and lots of flames.

Why is a small spam bad? Some folks think that if a small thing is not bad, then the same thing big is not bad too. So if a small spam is not yelled at, then there will be lots and lots of big spams.

What did you do? You sent the same thing lots and lots of times. So you spammed. Spam is bad.

We do not care what you said. We do not care if it was in the right place. You sent the same thing lots and lots of times. That is spam. That is bad.

Some folks like to get rid of spam when they see it. We think that is good. We like them. We think they are good.

When they get rid of spam, they get rid of all of it. They do not try to think if some of the posts are in the wrong place and just get rid of those ones. That would be bad. As bad as to say that a post is spam if they did not like it. No, they get rid of all of them. That is the right way to get rid of spam.

Not all folks think we should do this. There are a few, like Dave Hayes, who think spam should be left there, that we should all be free to spam and spam and spam. But there are lots and lots more who think spam should be got rid of.

Why are we mad at you? You spammed. But there is more: when we said we were mad, you said you did not spam. And you said few of us were mad. And you said your spam was not bad because it was in the right place. And you said that we should not get rid of it. Or that we should not get rid of the ones in the right place.

You said you will do it no more. We do not know if we think that is true. Why? You said things that we think are bad. You did things that we think are bad. So we do not trust you. We think you might do it the next time you think of a thing you want lots and lots of folks to hear.

How can you make us think you will do it no more, and that you are good folks?

  1. Say that what you did was spam.
  2. Say that what you did was bad.
  3. Say that you feel bad since you did this bad thing.
  4. *Then* say that you will do it no more.
Then we might trust you. Then we might not be mad at you.

That is not too hard for you to get, is it?

-----END SIMPLE ENGLISH MESSAGE-----

                                Henry Neeman
                                University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
                                hneeman@ncsa.uiuc.edu
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