the database of known humans

i get about 10-15 spam emails a day. i delete them as soon as i see them. actually i bounce them to spam@unc.edu so hopefully someone at unc can contact the offending email servers. chances are they probably just delete what i send them. in any case it takes about a second to do, and it doesn’t bother me much.

but a lot of people (other than myself) are hyperaggravated about spam. from textism i found out about this interesting new spam blocking service called knowspam. if you read the details, you find that knowspam allows emails to reach you only if they meet any one of the following three criteria:

  1. The sender is in your knowspam.net address book
  2. The sender is in knowspam’s database of known humans
  3. The sender correctly answers a question sent as a link by knowspam, basically a “look at this image and tell us what numbers you see” scheme (similarly employed by ebay and yahoo to prevent automated fraud).

Here’s the catch: “Once the sender answers that question, the sender may contact any other knowspam.net user because they have been added to the shared, verified-humans database.”

Is there not a hole there? All a would-be spammer has to do is get his/her email address into the “database of known humans” (by answering the knowspam question manually after sending a single email) and then they can get around knowspam’s entire contrivance.

Update: posed the question above to the folks at knowspam, and Thomas Burns provided the following: “responding to the challenge only lets you send 50 emails to people you do not know. Then you have to respond again. 50 emails is useless to a spammer.”

so if you get listed as a “known human”, you can take some comfort in the fact that you’ll only be listed for a short while, whereupon you shall have to prove your human-ness every 50 emails, ad infinitum.

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