No Spam

Net Log John Makulowich

No Spam

Hot off the virtual press from the Internet Engineering Task Force, the principal group for developing new Internet standards, is a critical draft document on spam.

This document is targeted to users, system administrators, news administrators and mailing list managers. Beyond that select group, however, this working draft is required reading that will appeal to policy-makers and anyone else responsible for the sensible and productive use of e-mail.

Authored by Sally Hambridge of Intel Corp., Albert Lunde of Northwestern University and the task force's Responsible Use of the Network Working Group, the draft has much detail about this Internet scourge. While the data are anecdotal, spam growth seems to correlate with the growth of Internet use.

You can find the complete document, titled, "DON'T SPEW: A Set of Guidelines for Mass Unsolicited Mailings and Postings (spam*)," at
Be mindful of its status as a draft document, a "work in progress" valid for six months at most. Comments are welcome. You can submit yours to

The document greatly details about why spam, or mass unsolicited electronic mail or Net news postings, is generally harmful to the Internet. It offers guidelines for dealing with it as well as suggestions for Internet service providers - major and often unwilling spam distributors.

As the document notes, the rise of spam coincided with the government's withdrawal from Internet funding and the global network's opening to the private sector. When the Internet largely was the province of the research, development and education community sited at federal laboratories and universities, e-mail rules evolved under the rubric of net-iquette. With the onset of free and open commerce, all that changed.

Among the major suggestions for dealing with spam are:

You can send John e-mail at; his Web address is

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