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Trivia Tidbit Of The Day: Part 435 -- Spam Costs.

Wasting The World's Productive Flavor-

According to a group called "Nucleus Research," spam messages sent to the inboxes of American workers are responsible not just for a little wasted time here or there, but more than 70 billion dollars annually:

:: Looking at the total e-mail traffic, Nucleus estimates that at least 90 percent of e-mail reaching corporate servers is spam.

:: The average user receives 21 spam messages to their inbox each day.

:: Many e-mail filtering technologies block anything with the word “Nigeria” in the title or text.

But spam-blocking filters, spam sequestration, and such seem to have helped a little bit over the past couple of years:


Even with expensive and burdensome spam filters, spams just keep getting through to personal and business email accounts, alike.

The study calculates the costs based on 21 spam emails received per day per worker, and 16 seconds for the average worker to deal with any given spam (identifying it as spam, maybe reporting it as spam, then deleting it). Sixteen seconds seems like a long time, as some spam emails are easy to identify and delete within a few seconds, but if you run a small business, each email could be a potential or existing customer, so the delete process can't be handled so wantonly. Moreover, 21 spam emails might be on the low side for anyone who has had the same email address for more than a year or two.

And that number does not even count all of the negative effects of spam-killing overkill.

Think about all of those times when someone told you they sent you an email, but you never got it because it was in your spam folder-- or even automatically zapped by an IT guy or your spam-prevention software. Think about all the times you've tried sending a legitimate (and maybe even important) email to someone that did not get through for whatever reason. Think about all the time you've spent sifting through the spam quarantine folder hoping to find an important email you've been waiting on.

Indeed, certain spam-fighting strategies actually contribute additional costs on top of the base costs:

Deleting spam without user review is the most costly policy for corporations, costing the average user 7.3 minutes per week or an additional $183 per user per year.

In blogging terms, the trillions of spam comments I receive each second cause all sorts of problems, most of all wasted productivity. The trillions of trackback spams received each second have essentially ended trackbacks as a useful tool for inter-blog communication.

Spam is not free speech, and it is not a legitimate advertising method. Unsolicited and infested with fraud, scams, and objectionable material, spams are more than a waste of time. They amount to harassment. Often, they are just pure nihilistic gibberish-- 100% meaningless and not at all effective even just as a potential scam. Seriously, what is the point of some of those kinds of spam emails?

In terms of practical solutions, there may not really be any at the moment. Many spammers set up camp in Africa or Asia or otherwise out of the purview of anyone who could do anything about the sources of spam. A "Do Not Spam" registry would probably be mockingly gleaned and used by spammers.

The only thing that might get through to American-based spammers is a cold, hard jail cell, although hastily-written anti-spam legislation might lead to all sorts of unintended consequences, including the undue violation of liberty.


Previous Trivia Tidbit: We All Need School Choice.

Posted by Will Franklin · 4 April 2007 11:41 AM


I hate spam!

Posted by: zsa zsa at April 4, 2007 01:49 PM

I'd bet that any legislation enacted to block spam would be screwed up. Politicians barely know how to use the Internet, let alone stop spam email.

Posted by: Shawn at April 5, 2007 12:50 PM