Posted by Brad @ 12:55 pm on August 7th 2008

A Free Market Solution To Spam?

Brad Warbiany at The Liberty Papers has an idea so obvious it just might work.


  1. I love the idea that there would be people working full-time as spam-stringer-alongers. People who would work ten hours a day typing messages like, “Yes! My penis is small! Please provide me with the following details about the nature of your product, so that I may buy it…”

    Comment by Rojas — 8/7/2008 @ 2:29 pm

  2. That was sort of my thought as well. How well could automatic responses work? They’d have to be specific enough to entice the spammers yet generic enough to be automated.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/7/2008 @ 4:41 pm

  3. I’m not sure enticing spammers is a particularly high threshold. Not even sure if you’d have to pass the Turing Test.

    Comment by Brad — 8/7/2008 @ 4:55 pm

  4. I like messing with phone salespeople now and then. Just the other day I got an automated call that said that it was my last chance to lower the interest rate on my credit card. I was intrigued. It was my last chance after all, so I pressed 1 and the conversation went something like this:

    Salesperson: Hello?
    Me: Hello.
    SP: How can I help you?
    Me: I don’t know, you called me.
    SP: May I have your name?
    Me: Sure, it’s James (last name).
    SP: And your phone number Mr. —-?
    Me: You must have it. You called me, remember?
    SP: It is for our records.
    Me: In fact it isn’t, but thanks for asking. What exactly is this about?
    SP: Well, Mr. —–, we are —— Financial Services and we can help you lower your credit card interest and payments. Do you currently owe over $3000 in credit card debt?
    Me: Yup, but I don’t pay any interest.
    SP: But you just said that you owe over $3000 on your credit cards!
    Me: I do.
    SP: Well, —– Financial can help you lower your interest…
    Me: I don’t pay interest.
    SP: but you said that you owe…
    Me: I do, but I pay my cards in full by the due date and so don’t pay any interest.
    SP: Then you don’t have credit card debt.
    Me: My credit card companies would disagree.
    SP: You don’t understand.
    Me: Actually I do. I have credit card debt of over $3000 at the moment because I like to earn those nice points they give out. However, I will only owe it until the statement due date. I pay the statement balance in full and voila, no interest. Plus I have a very low rate anyway. I think what you should be asking people is if they have a “running credit card debt over $3000 and are paying interest on that debt”, but that’s just me.
    SP: Ok, I don’t know why you called then.
    Me: I didn’t, you folks called me, remember?
    SP: Then I think you have no need of our services.
    Me: That would be correct. Thank you.
    SP: Thank you, goodbye…(muttered to a coworker as she was disconnecting the call): Man this guy is stupid!

    Comment by James — 8/7/2008 @ 5:08 pm

  5. They’re always offering to call back at a later time so I turn around and offer to call them instead, at a time convenient for me. It flusters most of them to no end as they have to search for a phone number that I can use to reach them.

    Comment by Cameron — 8/7/2008 @ 5:18 pm

  6. Heh. No one beats Tom Mabe though.

    Comment by James — 8/7/2008 @ 5:34 pm

  7. That’s pretty fucking awesome, James.

    Comment by Brad — 8/7/2008 @ 5:57 pm

  8. Anything that, for example, ISPs do in order to reduce spam is a ‘free market solution’, so the only question regarding this one is whether it’s cost-effective. I mean, gmail users need hardly see any spam and my place of work has a good spam filter, too (the cost at work is that we basically have a server working full time filtering spam and our sysadmin had to set it up and has to maintain it, but it’s not a gigantic cost).

    Comment by Adam — 8/8/2008 @ 9:13 am

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