More thoughts about the economics of spam

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Spam is often thought of as a hugely profitable business: entry costs are low, marginal costs of sending spam are close to zero and because you target millions you do not need much of a response rate to make money.

But the evidence suggests, to me at least, that most spam senders are like most drug dealers – poor and going nowhere.

Spam is written in appalling English, and that is actually the easiest way to identify it – by the second or third word in (or the first if it is “dearest”), it is clear it is not written by a native speaker.
Here’s a real world example currently sitting trapped by Akismet on this blog:

I surely wanted to sort a message so as to express gratitude to you for those good tips you are writing at this web-site. My extensive web appear up has at the end of the day been compensated with pleasant knowledge to write about with my two pals. I ‘d state that that we website visitors are extremely fortunate to exist in a fine community with many amazing folks with helpful tips and hints. I feel rather grateful to have seen your web page and look forward to some extra enjoyable times reading here. Thanks again for all of the details.
So most spammers are in Eastern Europe? So what, you might say. But the point is that if they were really making any money they could afford to pay for someone to write the stuff in good English – that might double the response rate, say, and that would surely be a competitive advantage. But if the “industry” is broke from the start then there is never the capital to afford to do that.
Of course, some spam does work – phishing, where the “good” cases clearly show real effort has been put in, proves my point: phishers can afford to invest in the technology and the presentation.


One response to “More thoughts about the economics of spam”

  1. Hmm. I would say that stilted English is the second easiest way to identify spam. IF THE SUBJECT IS ALL IN CAPS you probably need not bother reading the body.

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