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Author Topic: A Bitcoin Solution to Spam?  (Read 1409 times)
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June 28, 2011, 06:30:35 AM

Imagine you are in a room with five well educated, intelligent people.  Consider the thought-provoking conversations you could have with these people and think about the dynamic of your conversations with them.  You'd probably want to put a good amount of thought into your contributions to the discussions, and you'd probably be inclined to ask insightful questions, listen to their differing points of view, and bring imaginative ideas to the table.  Certainly, a gathering such as this could lead to some very interesting, enjoyable, high-level dialogs.

Now suppose 100 more people start to file into the room, and let's suppose these happen to be rather low-level thinkers.  Just for the sake of argument, let's imagine them as ditsy blonde valley girls, smacking their bubble gum, twirling their hair, chipping away on text messaging cell phones, and all the while yammering on and on about shallow subjects like fashion, the latest gossip from the mall, or some celebrity scandal.  They start to interrupt your thoughtful conversation with mindless jabber.  They dilute the incentive to participate in conversation, and they drown out any decent exchange of ideas with their incessant nattering.

Internet communication, whether in the form of e-mail, message board forums, blog comments, or whatever else, is susceptible to a similar pitfall.  The Internet is really good at giving everyone a voice -- perhaps too good.  With all the voices competing to be heard, it's easy for the ones who actually have something to say to get lost in the crowd.  And then, it's easy for those who would participate to simply figure, "why bother," and leave.  (This particular forum seems to have a lot of intelligent participation, and that's why I've felt inclined to subscribe.  I don't feel like I'm wasting my time conversing with clowns, as is the case on so many other sites these days.  I suspect the high barrier to entry with Bitcoins themselves has been keeping out the bulk of the nattering fools.)

The same analogy as above can really be applied to any form of Internet communication, including e-mail.  I get more junk pharmaceutical spam and similar garbage than legitimate communication.  Of the legitimate e-mail, half of it takes me more time to decipher the author's meaning than it likely took him to write it.

So here's a rough idea for a possible way to improve the quality of on-line communication: What if it cost 0.001 BTC to post a message on a forum or send an e-mail?  Would a trivial fee provide enough incentive to shut up those who have nothing to say?  Would it encourage those who do have something to say to engage a little bit more thinking before speaking?  As a side benefit, could such a requirement also help fuel adoption of Bitcoin itself?
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June 28, 2011, 06:40:13 AM

Your post advocates a

(x) technical ( ) legislative (x) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
(x) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
(x) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
(x) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
(x) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
(x) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
(x) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
(x) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

(x) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( ) Blacklists suck
( ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
(x) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
(x) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

(x) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

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June 28, 2011, 07:23:33 AM

I think asking for a fee to post is counterproductive. Not many people would pay to get a message out. What I would support is the possibility to get paid to post and to use that system as moderation. Imagine that you could pay a small fee to become a "power user". Power users get some type of benefits. One of those benefits is the right to "up-vote" a comment or a thread or a user. That up-voted user gets a small BTC tip and people can filter out users or comments that don't have many recommendations.

I would suggest something like a .05 btc fee to become a power user. Then, let them give 5,000 up-votes before they revert to a non-power user. For each up-vote they give to someone, that someone receives .00001 btc. To encourage people to use all their up-votes, the power user status should only last a limited time, like 6 months. If you didn't use all your up-votes, you lose them.

Writers will attempt to write better posts in an attempt to earn more up-votes and readers will know which comments and threads and users to read because they have the most up-votes.

We could also have some type of down-vote system, to let people register displeasure at bad and or useless posts.
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June 28, 2011, 10:19:45 AM

Pay per e-mail won't work, but pay per post on this forum is a reasonable idea.
Or create ad-bitcoin-sense box. Anyone?

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June 28, 2011, 10:31:40 AM

It's a good idea but nothing new.
hashcash is basicaly one of the main projets that inspired bitcoin.
Check if you didn't know.

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June 28, 2011, 02:04:36 PM

Pay per e-mail won't work, but pay per post on this forum is a reasonable idea.
Or create ad-bitcoin-sense box. Anyone?

well well bitcoinplus was mentioned as an adsense alternative
say you have to java mine for 5 minutes before you post

ive also seen an ad-network but forgot the name...
say you have to click before you post

anyways both things would kill this forum
Its like installing premium accounts...
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June 28, 2011, 05:36:33 PM

check out

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June 28, 2011, 05:54:50 PM

It's a good idea but nothing new.
hashcash is basicaly one of the main projets that inspired bitcoin.
Check if you didn't know.

Yes, the OP statement should be reverse. It is actually a spam solution inspiring the Bitcoin. However, the spam solution has not been adopted but Bitcoin, so now it may contribute back Smiley
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June 28, 2011, 06:08:04 PM

It's not a new idea.  It does have some potential, though, because Bitcoins are transferable. One could have a spam filter that bounced messages from new senders unless they sent a fraction of a Bitcoin.  The recipient gets to keep the money and can use it to send. It's not a tax or fee, but a deal between sender and recipient. There might be convention that if the receiver replies to the sender, the sender normally gets their coin back.

While it's hard to retrofit it to email, it has potential for a forum system.  Someone might develop a WordPress plug-in for this.
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June 29, 2011, 11:03:46 AM

I think it was Bill gates that suggested we start paying for our e-mails to reduce spam.  The initial reaction of course is a negative one, but when you look at how this might work with bitcoins, it makes sense.

If your recipient reads your message, you get your bitcoins back. If they tag it as spam, you dont.  It will put spammers out of business, and online stores like Amazon will have to pay you to read their adverts, which helps top up your bitcoin account.

It requires the big names to get this adopted, (GMail, Hotmail, facebook etc) to start this rolling.
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