Kilroy Was Here
February 10, 2003
Stamp Out Spam!
Dear Yahoo (and Hotmail and MSN and AOL),

Your free email services have been a God-send to many people on the Internet. Now people can have a single email account for personal use that they can check from anywhere. It's helped me out. My father, brother, and sister all use your services to send pictures of my nephew to me, or let me know how my uncle is doing. You should be proud; it's a good service you provide.

Unfortunately, as James Gleick notes in the yesterday's NY Times Magazine:

And I'm sure you're team of bright people have been thinking about how to resolve this issue. I've seen places that try to prevent the automatic creation of these free accounts, and I'm sure that does some good, though it's probably a little while coming, and I'm sure there might be a way for spammers to prevent it.

But I found the germ of an idea in this same article that may help you and help us. James Gleick reports:

So here's my idea germ, ready to infect your brain. My friend AOL, and Yahoo, and MSN, and Hotmail, charge people to send mail. Receiving mail can still be free, but when you send, you have to pay.

You don't have to charge all mail. Say the first 25 letters a day go for free. But after that, you have to pay. The same way that direct-mail marketers have to pay. You can make it easy on folks. From 25-100 letters a day, have that cost 1 cent per letter. Or a buck to get your extra hundred letters out. After that, have the prices go up exponentially. $2 for the next 100. $4 for the next one hundred.

Make it economically disadvantageous for spammers to use Hotmail and AOL and Yahoo and MSN to send spam.

Otherwise, you may find your free services no longer worth the trouble. From that same NY Times article:

And if no one reads any mail from the free services, then why have the free services?

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