Thursday, May 1, 2014

Is There Any Way to Really Fight Spam?

Hold a Sit-In!

Spam wastes an incredible amount of resources, and nobody likes it, except the spammers themselves. After all, they're making money. The endless cycle of putting up filters and such is the wrong approach; they just keep finding ways of getting past them. After all, you want to get your email, right?

What we need to do is attack the demand for spam. We can hold a "sit-in" at the sponsors' web sites! Just as with a traditional sit-in, we choose a place (ie the spam sponsor's web site), set a time when everybody should go there, and then at the appointed time, we all "go", ie repeatedly request the page.

Just as a million interested citizens inadvertently brought down the U.S. Affordable Care Act web site, we can bring a spammer client web site to a standstill, if enough of us want to, without doing the site itself any damage, nor breaking any law. Each participant in the sit-in is doing just what the spammer client wants us to do: go to the site.
The Sit-In app (currently available only at the SlideME android market) from earth42, facilitates each part of this process.

The SitIn app provides a simple form in which to develop the information needed for a sit-in, and makes it easy to 1) store the information in your calendar, 2) share that information on social media so others will join you, and 3) do the page browsing in the background (so you don't have to look at it), for a period of time each user controls. At the touch of a button. When your time has elapsed, the app will stop and notify you with the results.

The other thing the app does is, if you click on a URL in your calendar, email, search box, etc., the system will invite you to open SitIn instead of a browser. Choose that and it will pop the URL into the right spot on the app page. You can then go straight to the sit-in by clicking the button. Be sure your desired duration is set first.

Let me reiterate that this is a legal action. Each user must voluntarily request the page in the right time frame. This is not a bot-net where you allow some master control program to use your phone or tablet to perpetrate a DDoS attack. The app makes a safe, individual http request; and then another and another, until the time is elapsed. It's power comes from thousands of us doing it together. The app is not required to do any of these things: it just makes it easy.

By putting the word out in a way that can be easily found, with a hash tag automatically prefixed to your description, anyone can encourage others to action. Then when the appointed time comes, we gather from around the world at the sit-in target and make our point. If enough spam sponsors get their web sites jam-packed with protesters, they will decide spam isn't worth it any more. That is the ultimate goal. Make spam no longer worth the spammers' trouble.

I should also point out that there may be other reasons to stage a sit-in at somebody's web site, and so if you can convince enough people to do it, you can make it happen. You could even use the app to organize a traditional, physical sit-in if you want. It's all about empowerment, folks!

Some Other Details:

Two of the items on the app's page have default values that get filled in at the start: the duration in minutes for the sit-in, and the hash-tag to be prefixed to a description for sharing. These can be changed on the form without changing the default values, and used immediately. To change the defaults, you may click the settings icon at the top right of the action bar. It will open an edit dialog. When you return, the new defaults will be on the form.

The intended work-flow goes like this:
  1.  Find a web site to sit in on and the reasons for doing so. Write it up using the app's main page.
  2.  Save the event to your calendar. It will remind you when the time has come. Note: if your device is running android version 4.0 or higher, get the Ice Cream Sandwich version of SitIn here.
  3. Share your event through social media as much as you like. 
  4.  When reminded, click on the link you have saved, view it in the app, make sure the duration is what you want, and hit the button. 
That's it. You may now close the app and do other things. When your participation has ended, you will receive a notification indicating how it went.

No comments:

Post a Comment