A Piece of Spam That Economists Will Love

There was a nifty article in the New York Times Magazine a while back about “literary spam,” junk e-mail that includes passages from literary classics, in the hopes that legitimate text would fool spam filters. (Apparently, it doesn’t.)

I just got a piece of spam that’s even niftier. Its subject line: “yipping econometrica psychophysiology flourish.” Considering the kind of messages we regularly get here at Freakonomics, I was sure this was a legitimate e-mail.

Unfortunately, it was just a pharmaceutical come-on.

Still, as a non-economist who first came across the journal Econometrica while learning about the now-famous decision-making research of Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman, I was pretty tickled to see this subject line, and applaud the high standards of this particular spammer.

And yes, my spam filter did catch this e-mail: but, just as I very much enjoy reading newspapers and magazines for the information gleaned from certain ads, I also occasionally like looking over my spam to see what it says about the world.

FWIW, a man who is reportedly among the world’s most prolific spammers was just arrested. I wonder if he’s responsible for any of these zombie networks.


Abi Jones

Hallelujah! The funniest spam I've been receiving lately was from 'Bouncing Boobs.' While I was able to forego opening those emails, I'm sure that they're quite intriguing to more than a few folks out there.

The most maddening spam of late are the images containing penny stock information. Yes spammers, I would love to buy 1,000 poorly spelled shares.

randy

First off - so glad to (re)find your blog. I loved the book and I've just spent way too much time reading today. I can't wait for the second book.

Second, (and apologies for the pitch) I work for a company that I think might be of interest to you. Boxbe is a market based solution to spam. Instead of using complex spam filters, we let the sender and the recipient determine if the email is spam or not.

In practice that means that we only allow messages from senders through to your inbox that you have pre-approved or that pay the recipient a fee.

Our users set their fees (or let us set them) according to what their time is worth. If the emailer is a person (ie not an automated sender) you can optionally allow them to take a test (a captcha) to prove it.

We're applying principles of information economics to the email system as we feel that purely technical solutions have failed. The company is based on work Thede Loder did at University of Michigan and Marshall W. Van Alstyne did at MIT.

I'm curious to get your thoughts on what we are doing and invite you to use the service.

Our website is http://www.boxbe.com and our blog is http://blog.boxbe.com.

Cheers,
Randy Stewart
randy@boxbe.com

Read more...

specialkbeck

I actually hear that this kind of spam is called "word salad" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_salad).

It's actually some of my favorite spam as well. I hope you enjoyed your recent word salad entree.

Abi Jones

Hallelujah! The funniest spam I've been receiving lately was from 'Bouncing Boobs.' While I was able to forego opening those emails, I'm sure that they're quite intriguing to more than a few folks out there.

The most maddening spam of late are the images containing penny stock information. Yes spammers, I would love to buy 1,000 poorly spelled shares.

randy

First off - so glad to (re)find your blog. I loved the book and I've just spent way too much time reading today. I can't wait for the second book.

Second, (and apologies for the pitch) I work for a company that I think might be of interest to you. Boxbe is a market based solution to spam. Instead of using complex spam filters, we let the sender and the recipient determine if the email is spam or not.

In practice that means that we only allow messages from senders through to your inbox that you have pre-approved or that pay the recipient a fee.

Our users set their fees (or let us set them) according to what their time is worth. If the emailer is a person (ie not an automated sender) you can optionally allow them to take a test (a captcha) to prove it.

We're applying principles of information economics to the email system as we feel that purely technical solutions have failed. The company is based on work Thede Loder did at University of Michigan and Marshall W. Van Alstyne did at MIT.

I'm curious to get your thoughts on what we are doing and invite you to use the service.

Our website is http://www.boxbe.com and our blog is http://blog.boxbe.com.

Cheers,
Randy Stewart
randy@boxbe.com

Read more...

specialkbeck

I actually hear that this kind of spam is called "word salad" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Word_salad).

It's actually some of my favorite spam as well. I hope you enjoyed your recent word salad entree.