non-censorous spam control (was Re: Spam is Information?)

Dr.Dimitri Vulis KOTM dlv at
Sat Aug 2 08:32:57 PDT 1997

Just commenting on some stuff I missed earlier:

Adam Back <aba at> writes:

> Another longer term way to improve the situation is to charge some
> small token amount per article, just to encourage people to use it
> with some intelligence (use cross posts rather than separately
> reposting to each group).

Problem is, a "small token" for some may be a lot of money for someone
else. A poor person may be unwilling to part with 5c; a rich person or
a corporation may still be willing to spend a million dollars on an
advertising campaing (selling something or warning about the second
cumming of Jesus).  The way the things are now, everyone is equally
free to post and if you're into reputations, they can build one with
the contents of their writings, not the amount of money they can
afford to spend on posting.

> It is also entirely possible for people to have 'bots which auto-post
> in response to articles matching keywords, or matching authors.
> (We've seen a few of these on cypherpunks).
> If people want to make a nuisance for others by spewing random garbage
> via bots to newsgroups, they could post mega bytes of stuff per day
> and swamp the content.  What can you do about this?  Charging a small
> amount per post, or per megabyte would provide a small disincentive
> for this type of behaviour.  However it would never reflect the true
> cost to USENET bandwidth as a whole.

I'm sorry, I don't see how posting megabytes of noise every day can
swamp the content. Moreover, if such actions were indeed cause a problem,
they would not be eliminated with payments. Some people would be willing
to spend money to "flood" the net with what you consider to be "spam" -
because they're rich or because they have access to a large advertising
budget. The solution is for you to make sure you're using a reader that
lets you find the content from

A while ago I read an interesting story about the behavior of German
tourists with cars in Czech republic.  The Czechs used to discourage
their own population from 1) speeding, 2) parking in inappropriate
places by imposing fines.  The fines were a lot of money for the locals,
but small change for the Germans (because of the screwed up exchange
rates for the most part). The Germans would speed on the local roads
and park their cars where they obstructed traffic since the fines
were no deterrent.

Natrurally, there's a huge difference between an inappropriately parked
car and a Usenet article. If you can't get our of your garage because
some tourist's car is parked in your driveway, it's a problem. If a
usent article is "inappropriately posted", you can just ignore it.

> One interesting idea which has been floated on this list in the past
> is for authors to have their free posting rate moderated by other
> peoples ratings of their posts.
> One way to implement this is for other people to pay the author for
> their articles a penny if they like the article.  That way people who
> write things which others find interesting to read get subsidized
> posting.  Is it still free speech if you have to pay for your posts if
> you're arguing for an unpopular minority?

Now that is another very interesting suggestion from Adam.

Instead of discouraging the behavior you don't like, encourage the
behavior you do like.

A shareware-like concept - send e-cash donations to the posters of
usenet articles that you like and whom you want to encourage.

Make 1 cent the standard "tip" for an article that you read and liked.
Feel free to send more if you like an article a lot. Don't send anything
if you don't like the article or if you've killfiled the author.

> Also, this might be an interesting information market model because
> technical experts might even find themselves with a well paid job of
> answering technical questions in newsgroups.

Or the ones who post good porn in
Reward the ones whose postings others do want to read. Yes,
an excellent idea if you can work out the details.

I invite Adam and David to subscribe to the freedom-knights mailing list
(send 'subscribe freedom-knights at' to majordomo at
if you want to continue this not-quite-crypto discussion there.


Dr.Dimitri Vulis KOTM
Brighton Beach Boardwalk BBS, Forest Hills, N.Y.: +1-718-261-2013, 14.4Kbps

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