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Reporting Spam = Altruism?


turetzsr
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From "Multiple accounts" in SpamCop Reporting Help Forum.

<snip>

altruism: the doctrine that the general welfare of society is the proper goal of an individual's actions.

<snip>

...Here's the definition I was using (and objecting to being accused of):
al·tru·ism /ˈæltruˌɪzəm/

<snip>

–noun

1. the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others (opposed to egoism).

I subscribe to definition 3 of egoism. :) <g> Adam Smith's "Invisible Hand" and all that....

...Okay, DT, have at me! :) <g>

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I picked the second definition because IMHO it was closer to Steve T's attitude - to combat 'evil' wherever it was - IOW, a general concern for the welfare of society. Those who report spam as a hobby without getting any benefit seem to fit the 'unselfish' definition.

Those who report spam without getting any benefit from the scbl don't get any direct benefit except by contributing to an anti-spam effort - which is a worthy goal but a long term one. It is a much better goal, IMHO, than trying to take down websites. It doesn't reduce the amount of spam being sent and it doesn't reduce the amount of spam in one's inbox which is direct benefit.

IMHO, blocklists that reject at the server level (or tag spam for those who don't want to miss one good email) are 'the' way to handle spam. If, universally blocking at the server level was followed by responsible server admins, then, it would make irresponsible server admins totally invisible. Though, ideally, this would put them out of business, in reality, it would probably create two 'neighborhoods' - one that was safe to use email without undue precautions and one where all kinds of unsavory objects might arrive in your inbox.

In the original discussion, I was trying to convince the OP that his goal - that of reducing the number of zombies and botnets - was better achieved by spam reporting more in depth than spamcop. Those who have been reporting for a longer time have contributed to the spammers' increasing reliance on zombies and botnets because most server admins have prevented them from using Port 25.

In being altruistic, it depends on one's expertise and time how much one can accomplish, but from the person who puts his trash in the trashbin to the person who organizes a group of people to tidy a stretch of highway, all can be considered altruistic (as opposed to the person who cleans up his yard because the neighbor complained to the city council).

It takes expertise to be an in-depth reporter who exhausts all avenues to stop a spam source. It also takes time. If one has both, then IMHO it is a better course of action to do in-depth reporting than increasing the number of spamcop reports by reporting other people's spam. There are plenty of spamcop reporters, but not many in-depth reporters. That doesn't mean that if an individual doesn't have both, that it is worthless to report via spamcop. It doesn't even mean that those people for whom he wanted to report are irresponsible if they JHD. But you can't make a person more responsible or altruistic by picking up their trash for them. If he wants to help other people be more responsible and more effective in fighting spam, then a better course of action would be to help them secure their computers or find an ISP who uses blocklists and filters effectively.

In fact, doing people's reporting for them makes them more dependent on others and gives them a diminished sense of responsibility for their personal input for the safety and health of the internet - the opposite of what he was trying to achieve. OTOH, spamcop reporters who report without using the scbl are way above the average in understanding how each individual user contributes to the safety and health of the internet.

Miss Betsy

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The only part I see different between the 2 definitions is the word "unselfish". Is that what you are objecting to?
...No. I (without heat :) <g>) object to the implication that I act principally out of "devotion to the welfare of others." I do not mind (in fact, I think it good) that the end result of my reporting spam is that the welfare of others is enhanced but that is not my principal concern. If I did not think I benefited, I would not report spam.

...Parenthetically, the principal benefit I derive is the feeling of satisfaction from somehow retaliating against the spammer by exposing that she/he spammed me.

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That's my reason for reporting spam - it makes me feel good that I am 'doing something'!!!

Whether it directly benefits me from spam or indirectly benefits me because it contributes to the long term solution or benefits others is immaterial. But that's selfish. (and I know, it directly contradicts what I said about people who do it as a hobby - anyone who reports spam and does not care about the benefits to hirself is altruistic so if the hobby is being pursued because it helps others, it is unselfish even if it is enjoyed.)

However, I contribute to the spamcop forum because I think the more people who understand about the value of blocklists in combatting spam (in particular as opposed to the sole use of content filters), the better. While I enjoy it and often learn things so I do benefit, my reason for doing so is altruistic because I don't have to enjoy it or learn something in order to think it worthwhile.

Miss Betsy

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That's my reason for reporting spam - it makes me feel good that I am 'doing something'!!!

Whether it directly benefits me from spam or indirectly benefits me because it contributes to the long term solution or benefits others is immaterial. But that's selfish.

<snip>

However, I contribute to the spamcop forum because I think the more people who understand about the value of blocklists in combatting spam (in particular as opposed to the sole use of content filters), the better. While I enjoy it and often learn things so I do benefit, my reason for doing so is altruistic

<snip>

...Seems like a great example of being able to hold two apparently contradictory goals at once without actually being contradictory! :) <g>
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I guess I fall largely under the "hobby" rubric, which therefore makes me an altruist according to Miss Betsy (Nobel Prize nominations will be gratefully acknowledged).

When I first became aware of spam a decade or more back (i.e., in the waning chickenboner days), I was at first appalled and angry, but this was soon joined by curiosity: I wanted to know how they were able to do what they did. This led me down many paths and helped me learn a lot about the internet and how (strangely) it operates. Even now, when I get a new spam, I look for any sorts of new gimmicks that the spammer is using, and try to figure out how they help him (or whether he is simply daft). Happily, my researches coincide with what I imagine to be the public good.

If by some miracle we were able to vanquish spam (stop laughing out there), I guess I'd have to find another hobby to fill the void -- maybe I'd have to play one of those big online games that simulate real life. Naah, come to think of it, I'm already simulating a real life right now.

-- rick

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Heh, followed with appreciation - I was worried for a while "we" might end up effectively defining Gordon "Greed is good" Gekko as an altruist. I forget the substance of Gordon's argument but have a vague notion it was somewhat along those very lines. It can happen, the very language can warp to accommodate a seductive concept.

Like when the beancounters hijacked the "Quality" movement with their argument that the clients are only truly served by beancounters because without their dogged devotion to the bottom line there would be no strong and capable corporations to deliver quality goods and services to the (delighted) clients and all those quality circles, kaizen managers and product improvement groups had better get with the program and just focus on the bottom line too because the clients, as such, just don't come into the picture. Well, how do you argue with success? I have no doubt their textbooks all have montages of their Bill Gates shrines in the flyleaves. :P

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Like when the beancounters hijacked the "Quality" movement ...
I had the chance to see a satellite lecture by W. Edwards Deming shortly before his death. He was considered to be one of the founders of the "quality" movement, and is credited with transforming Japanese manufacturing in particular. Trivia buffs who went to grad school may be interested to know that he may have had some involvement in the old Hawthorne WECO study, and was thus a contributor to the formulation of the well-known Hawthorne Effect.

Anyway, the point of all this is that Deming stressed that quality controls should be managed directly by the workers who use them...that is, the lathe guy should be the one who makes and analyzes the quality measurements. NOT the bean counters. In fact, a lot of what he said hovered dangerously close to "workers controlling the means of production," which is probably not at all what the beancounters mean when they discuss TQM, etc.

Deming was obviously misunderstood.

-- rick

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...Deming was obviously misunderstood.
Or ignored - it's all about office/factory "politics". He was a brilliant contributor to industry and deserves to be as well known to the general public as he is to the HR and QC fraternities.

The whole Japanese reconstruction thing was amazing too - hard to imagine the autocratic Gen. MacArthur presiding over it. I guess the sterotypical picture of the man is quite inadequate. Maybe Truman's views "Mr. Prima Donna, Brass Hat, Five Star MacArthur,” and "a dumb son of a bitch" have taken root, undeservedly so in my view. And, to be accurate, Truman was not all that selective in his vituperation - "I didn't fire him [General MacArthur] because he was a dumb son of a bitch, although he was, but that's not against the law for generals. If it was, half to three quarters of them would be in jail."

Anyway, despite his supposed (and I don't doubt them all) failings, MacArthur presided over an effective effort in Japan. His selection of assistants was evidently first class. Maybe he was a closet altruist as well.

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