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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(October 29, 2003) - Here's a disquieting breather from the statistical onslaught (more to come). Last week, the Pew Memorial Trust published yet another of its Internet papers. This one covered spam.

With a daily pile of about 700 pieces of spam (300 filtered out), our belief that email has an increasingly short shelf life grows stronger every day. We've been exposed to images of unthinkable contortions, nagged about credit, offered partnerships and buried in attempted viral assaults. It was easier and faster not all that long ago. Even blogs are subject to spamming these days.

The Pew study supports our thinking. (Download the full report in Acrobat)

Titled Spam: How it is hurting email and degrading life on the Internet, the report defines the problem and delineates the results of a large telephone survey on the subject. Some of the findings include:

  • Spam is beginning to undermine the integrity of email and degrade life online.
  • 25% of email users say the ever-increasing volume of spam has reduced their overall use of email; 60% of that group says spam has reduced their email use in a big way.
  • 73% of email users avoid giving out their email addresses; 69% avoid posting their email addresses on the Web.
  • 23% of email users are concerned that their emails to others may be blocked by filtering devices.
  • 30% of email users are concerned that their filtering devices may block incoming email.
  • 70% of email users say spam has made being online unpleasant or annoying.
  • Spam's burden is heavier on personal email accounts than on work email accounts.
  • Women are more bothered than men by everything about spam, and in particular, 83% of women are bothered by offensive or obscene content of spam, compared to 68% of men.
  • 81% of parents who have children under 18 object to the adult content in spam, compared to 72% of non-parents.
  • More young people (1829 years old) than older people are tolerant of spam; 32% of them say spam is "just part of life on the Internet and is not that big of a deal," compared to 18% of older people.

The report details the relative volumes and costs (in time and dollars) of spam. Their basic conclusion? Spam is in the process of killing email. Solutions will be very difficult because the very definition of spam varies widely.

Read the report and stay on top of the issue. Recruiting without email may be the opportunity of the moment.

John Sumser

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