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Don writes in my comments:

“No, spammers ARE stupid. Its just that some people are MORE stupid (or at least naive). Considering the majority of people were still raised in the pre main stream internet age where they were taught that documented proof meant that it was published in writing from a source that could be cited. People inherently believe what they read.“

I see. 

Well, if Don wrote it here on the Internet, it must be true.  Not only that, but the use of CAPITALIZATION to make the POINT pretty much clinches it.  No FACTS are required here.  One thing you're forgetting is that the scammers pre-date the Internet.  Mail and wire fraud have been around since the early days of the twentieth century in the United States. [1] 

Could someone explain to me why people that make millions of dollars and are virtually untouchable are stupid?  I'm not even talking about the spammers that use outright fraud to make their money.  They're not stupid.  They're criminals.  A very large percentage of con artists are of above average intelligence.  This is fact.

The people that are taken in are not stupid or naive.  They're human.  In fact:

"All con artists know that anyone, and I do mean anyone, can be a victim.  This is especially true if the target is convinced that he or she is too smart to be conned, and that only other people get swindled." [2]

It is responses like yours, Don, that are likely the reason that the rules of SPAM have not progressed beyond the "I know you are but what am I" type of rhetoric espoused in "The Rules

Pundits: “Spammers are stupid“

Spammers: “We're not stupid.  You're stupid“

Pundits: “Spammers ARE stupid“


Just because I can...


posted on Tuesday, August 24, 2004 1:11 PM


# re: I know you are but... 8/24/2004 6:52 PM Pete
If you use a decent challenge/response mail system such as from or, you will see so little SPAM that it just won't bother you.

In fact, if enough people used challenge/response based systems, the automated responses would mean the spammers get more unwanted email than you :)

AOL just acquired Mailblocks, so I guess a fairly good percentage of internet users are going to get these systems anyway.

# re: I know you are but... 8/24/2004 8:02 PM Don Newman
I better put some context on that to defend myself. First, there is a difference between SPAM and scam. At least for me. Scammers have been around since the first cave man said "hey, look over there!" and took the second cave man's dinner. They have gotten better at it since. That is small time pay off for a small time con. The bigger the con, the longer it takes, and the bigger the pay off. I have to admit, I would do a year in jail for a million dollars, providing I got to keep the money.

Spammers in my books are a totally different class. They view it as marketing. I think it is poor marketing, and hence I think they are stupid. Sure, if you send out a mass email to one million people (which is really easy and cheap) and you reach 1% of the people after SPAM filters, that is still 10,000 people. Now say 90% of those people just scan through their emails and delete them, 1,000 people have still read your email. Of that, 10% buy a product. Still 100 sales for very little effort. Not bad. These are very much estimated numbers, but hopefully accurate enough to prove my point, so no need to quote back any other numbers at me.

Now lets look at the other effects of this mass marketing campaign. Of that 1,000 people who read the email there are still 900 who didn't buy, but are now aware of your company. Brand awareness is a good thing, unless you now turned off those potential future customers. That is bad marketing, you have hurt your corporate image.

That was the spammers group. What about those that simply provide a mass email marketing service? They are quite intelligent. Just like those that write viruses to get around constantly upgraded anti-virus tools, they are coming up with ever changing ways to get around the constantly upgraded anti-spam tools. If you build a better mouse trap, they will build a better mouse.

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