The other day, one of my colleagues here at CGNET registered half a dozen websites with a domain name registrar, in this case GoDaddy.com. Shortly thereafter, within a day, his mailbox was stuffed with mail from web designers, SEO experts, and all manner of folk wanting to help him with his new website.
There wasn’t much he could do, at that point. The messages were personally addressed, because he had put himself in as the technical contact for the sites. This, and some other tricks, got them through the spam filter.
Email programs have several good ways to keep you from getting a second message from the same address. Outlook has block sender, and it also has the “focused, other” inboxes if you’re ambivalent about the messages. Other mail services have similar features. But they offer no protection against the first message. If you depend on them, you’ll get hit at least once.
There is something you can do, but it’ll cost you. You can buy privacy protection from the domain name registrar, so that the WHOIS listing for your site doesn’t include your contact information. GoDaddy offers one that starts at $7.99 annually for each domain.
Yet Another Spam Product
This is necessary because harvesting domain name contact listings has become a widespread practice. For example, AtomPark Software offers its Atomic Whois Explorer, which can harvest “several hundred contacts per minute” from the WHOIS database. Then you can go back to GoDaddy or a similar site and use their low-cost email messaging services to send your ads out.
There ought to be a law! Well, there is, but it’s totally ineffective. The CAN-SPAM law was based back during the second Bush administration. It requires, among other things, that an opt-out process is included in the spam. Again, protection against the second message.
And so, another product, almost an industry, is created. It got me wondering how much of our society is based on crime or the effort to fight crime. The Justice Department estimates the annual cost of law enforcement at $280 billion. Researchers estimate the annual cost of crime in the U.S. to be between $690 billion and $3.41 trillion.
This probably doesn’t include a lot of the time people spend on the consequences of crime. A trivial example is how long it takes to block all the senders, or unsubscribe, or send them to the “other” inbox. In milliseconds, computers can create things that take humans hours to clean up. The labor-saving joys of automation.
Why blog about this? It’s so common. Maybe that’s why. We need to notice the common and see what we have become.