For years, I’ve been predicting (fairly optimistically, it turns out) that there was a technology solution to spam, and when it got bad enough, we’d find it. It turns out that we need more than just a passive filtering system, though. We need to change the whole idea of email.
Email in its classic form is a public and open inbox, available to all at no charge. That’s busted.
The idea of charging for email is a simple and workable solution, but most players don’t have the guts to take the first step.
The new idea, though, is probably going to work. Close the open inbox.
Only let people with permission (don’t you love that term? I do.) into the box. If someone wants to write to you and they don’t have permission, the program hits them with an autoreply that tells them how to get permission. Spammers, of course, won’t be able to get permission and thus they disappear. You never see the program haggling with the stranger, you just see the requests for permission. You save hours a day.
There are plenty of new products coming out that use this method (most of them buggy and still not quite ready) but as they work out some business models, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it work. I hope it does!