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Boxbe – make spammers pay

Spam. This is the cost of doing business on the internet, right? Free and easy communication with friends, co-workers, partners, etc, but the cost of this ease is that it is easy (and close to free) for anyone to send you email.

I dunno about you, but I got better stuff to do than spend my time cleaning out my inbox. Yahoo! and Google seem to do a decent job of removing spam before I get it (I’m not sure that .Mac has any filtering at all). Apple Mail does a good job of removing what Google and Yahoo! don’t. But on occasion, a friend asks me why I didn’t respond to them and I discover that my spam filtering has been a bit over zealous.

boxbe email.jpg

Enter Boxbe, a new warrior in the battle on spam. Boxbe’s premise is that your time is worth money and you can set how much that time is worth. Boxbe gives you a free forwarding email address that you can post anywhere on the net. It stops spam dead because if the sender isn’t in your address book, they don’t get to email you.

That is, unless they pay.

And there is the beauty, my friends. How much is worth to you to be spammed? Personally, my inbox is worth about $2.00. If you want to spam me, I’ll take your $2.00. If you send me relevant stuff, like a sale on hard drives, maybe I won’t take your money.

In any case, the service went public yesterday. No beta, no Web 2.0 tom-foolery, just up and running. I signed up for the service today and will let you know how well it works later this week.

Oh yeah, spammers, come and get it:

Liz Gannes on GigaOm is reporting on Boxbe

[In the interest of full disclosure, one of the founders, Thede Loder, is an old friend of mine from a million years ago. We’ve talked about this service a lot and I hope it is everything he has spent so much time working on. He hasn’t paid me to talk about the service, I just really believe in what he is doing.]

2 replies on “Boxbe – make spammers pay”

Randy, while economic solutions to spam are an interesting idea, this is a terrible implementation. It’s a challenge/response scheme. Like all of these things, there’s a fundamental flaw: you can’t reply to spammers — replies go to innocent 3rd parties because spammers forge the return address. In other words, this actually creates more spam.

More discussion at

Two things really quick –
1. Challenge/Response is an option for boxbe. You can turn it off.
2. Forgive my ignorance of the problems posed by Challenge Response, why is it bad?

To your point, though, I would really want to know if someone were using my address as a fake return address. It seems that (and maybe this is naive) I might be able to do something about my address being used.

I’ve read this page –

But, honestly, if someone really wants to get in touch with me, it’s not that hard. Fine if Steve Bass doesn’t want to jump through a hoop, but most people that truly want to contact me will.

Most spam filters I’ve used (Yahoo!’s wisdom of crowds, Apple’s Bayesian filters) false positives still happen. At least with this system, humans will know that their message didn’t come through, unlike the others that I’m using.

So far my experience with the service has been positive and I’m thinking of using this address for all of my commercial correspondence and going as far as posting my email address as publicly as possible.

Thanks for the comment.


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