Conspiracy Theory #1

July 16, 2009

So I have this new conspiracy theory. I’m not sure if I actually believe it, but I think it’s disturbingly plausible.

In my absence last week, I managed to accumulate more than 2,000 junk emails in my work inbox. Many of these emails were the standard spam-fare. I recall reading that if some small percentage of people actually click a link or call a number, the cost—however small—of sending the spam is worth it to the sender. But I’ve noticed over the past year or so that more and more of the spam that I’m getting doesn’t include links, phone numbers, or anything else that might actually provide value back to the sender.  I’m left wondering… what’s the point of spending the effort to send these messages?

The various spam filters, greylisting, etc. that I employ work with varying degrees of success. Many emails are erroneously marked as spam; many more slip through the filters. Yesterday, in a note to a friend of mine, I attempted to discuss mortgages; the message was rejected by the outgoing mail server as being too likely to be flagged as spam. And then there’s the volumes of porn-spam that my kids get (but I’d rather not think about that). In short, email is a real PITA. And that’s a darned shame, because I interact with a great number of really interesting people via email.

So, my conspiracy theory of the day is that there is some group out there actively encouraging (and possibly funding) script kiddies and the like to clobber us with an overwhelming amount email in an attempt to cause as much pain as possible. I expect that the end goal is to drive us to more carefully controlled social networking communities with an ultimate goal of driving revenue from our communications. Effectively, somebody is trying to make an otherwise unpalatable alternative palatable.

Thoughts?

FWIW, I assume that somebody else has already thought of this; feel free to post links to similar nutty theories.

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