You win.

2006-02-22 01:23

Until such time as the comment spammers give up, or comment-spam-prevention improves, there are no comments on my blog.

In a typical day, I was getting hundreds of spams. Hundreds. Worse, at any given time, maybe fifty a day, maybe more, make it past the filter to sit there in the moderation queue, so I go to the blog, and of course I have to filter comments before I start writing, and I see this:

Hello admin, nice site you have! JeyZee Collect all 15! 2006.02.21
� good site, good short contents of the good work. I have loved your site :D Haree Go Virginia! 2006.02.21
Very interesting site and beautiful design !! Thank. Bill The secret joys. 2006.02.21
Very interesting site and beautiful design !! Thank. Haree Hard Drive Failures ‘R Us 2006.02.21
<a href=‘http://domain removed/toons/mom-son-cartoon-sex. html’> http://www.asiansho… TnFARutwDj That Cenk Uygur thing 2006.02.21
Yo have nice site, admin! keep up good work man! JeyZee Weird Stuff, Vol. 2: It’s not that the faucet is in the wrong place, mind you. 2006.02.21
Very interesting site, beautiful design, thank. Aron I’m getting old. 2006.02.21

The formatting’s screwed up, but really, it doesn’t improve with formatting.

Regular spam’s just as bad. If I wait five minutes, and check my mail, there will be spam in my mailbox — and this is after three layers of very aggressive spam filtering!

I think the underlying problem here is lack of ethics. I was talking to someone about the importance of respecting privacy, and he explained that people don’t mind junk mail as much as they claim to, because hey, sometimes they buy stuff. I think this misses the point rather significantly. If it’s all about sheer pragmatism, hell, just steal from them. They might not notice.

We have developed a culture in which respect for others, honesty, and other such concepts are casually dismissed as outmoded, and in which sheer efficiency is prized above all. Amazon’s frivolous patent lawsuit, filed by a company that openly asserted that their patent portfolio was “purely defensive”, is defended by people who make insulting and sarcastic remarks about how self-righteous it is of me to expect Jeff Bezos not to openly and brazenly lie.

Is the usage “defensive”? Amazon sued Barnes & Noble, demanding an injunction against B&N using a technology similar to theirs. Was B&N at the time suing Amazon over a patent? No. Was the lawsuit used primarily to defend against other patent lawsuits? No.

To quote The Register:

Bezos says that business methods patents are particularly bad, but Amazon has filed patents on a wide variety of business methods, including affiliates programs, payments, data presentation and and even gift giving. In an open letter five years ago, Bezos called for a public comment period, but users non-publication requests that prevent the US Patent and Trademarks Office from disclosing the application, such as when it filed to patent a weblog interface.

In his defense, Bezos argues that patents are defensive and should never be used, and illustrated this when sued rival bookseller Barnes and Noble for infringing on its notorious One Click patent.

In fact Bezos hates patents so much he has applied for 15 in his own name of which eight have been granted; as patent-watcher TheoDP noticed recently, one Amazon patent was granted after five rejections over four years. And as patent ’399 shows, he was busy filing before had sold a single book.

So… Do we just not care? Are lies and malice par for the course? Is it no big deal that useful things like email, and blogs, are being shut down by spammers? There are too many people who have been forced to give up. “Filtering” isn’t really much of a solution; while it cuts down on the personal stress, it still leaves networks and servers massively bogged down under what is quite simply a prolonged DDoS attack. That the attack mostly doesn’t completely kill the target systems doesn’t much change things.

And you know whose fault it is? It’s the fault of all the people who, while claiming they are opposed to massive and systematic frivolous abuse of the patent system, keep buying from Amazon. It’s the fault of the people who buy things from spammers, and the people who don’t pay any attention to dishonesty because “everyone does it”.

If you have ever thought that it might be nice for people not to habitually lie to you about everything from whether or not someone is in the office today to whether or not they are selling a product new or used, you might give some thought to the various enabling behaviors that are society has come to expect.

Oh, and if you want books? Buy them from Powell’s, or any of the dozens of other independant bookstores that have mysteriously been able to sell books without filing frivolous and disruptive lawsuits.

(During the writing of this message, I received 8 new spams, and that’s not even counting the roughly 80% of mail server connections we drop before they even start to talk to our server.)

Peter Seebach