Paid Emails

Recent statistics show that the prevalence of spam filters isn’t reducing the amount of spam traveling over the Internet.  If anything it is increasing it as spammers attempt to increase their volume to get messages through.

There have been a variety of different suggestions for slowing down spam.  One was to charge people for sending messages.  By charging a very low cost, the fee would be almost nothing for most people who send emails, but very expensive for people who are sending out spam. The problem of course, is who gets to keep the money.  Here are two suggestions:

Pay me to receive your email

One idea is to let the recipient keep the payment.  So if it costs you $0.01 to send an email to me, I get the penny.  Since I’m likely to send you an email back, the end result is that not much money has to actually change hands–unless you are sending out a tremendous number of emails every day.

Pay my charity

Another possibility would be to set things up so charities can benefit from the payments.  So if you want to send me an email, you have to give a penny to a charity that I’ve preselected first.  This would probably translate into a significant amount of money for a charity because many people would choose the same charity to support.

Variable rates

Another idea would be to let people set their own rate.  If you get more emails than you like, you set your rate to $0.25 per email while someone who wants to be easy to connect with sets their rate to $0.01.

All in all, I don’t think these ideas will go anywhere.  The reason is that to make something like this work would require infrastructure just as great as the current PKI infrastructure that can be used to encrypt emails now.  Very few people use the current system, so I can’t imagine someone being able to convince everyone to use a new system just to help limit spam. If enough people used it PKI could basically become a way to limit spam by requiring everyone to prove their identity (in some way) before getting a recognized certificate and then only allowing messages through that have a valid signature.

The problem (just like everything else) is that it only works if everyone uses it. Getting the whole world to change is going to be very very difficult no matter how brilliant the idea or method.

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