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RSS: The Wrong Solution to a Broken Internet

16 replies on 2 pages. Most recent reply: May 15, 2008 10:16 AM by David MacQuigg

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Harry Smith

Posts: 2
Nickname: shantoruk
Registered: Oct, 2007

Re: RSS: The Wrong Solution to a Broken Internet Posted: Oct 28, 2007 2:48 AM
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> to give up the anonymity when reading stuff. Compare this
> to reading a newspaper --- I go to the news stand, and
> hand over some money in exchange for the paper, but nobody
> knows it's me unless I come day after day and the
> news-stand-person recognizes me (but even then he doesn't
> necessarily have a name to put to the face). Certainly,
> the journalist doesn't know who I am.

But at least then you're paying for the newspaper. Anonymity is great. And free services are also great. But combine the two and you get people who abuse the system, e.g. spam or throwing freely available bikes into canals.

If everyone had to pay 0.1c to send an email or check an RSS feed, it would be fine for the average user (an ISP could factor 1000 emails into their monthly fee with ease) but prohibitive for spammers or Denial or Service attackers.

David MacQuigg

Posts: 1
Nickname: macquigg
Registered: May, 2008

Re: RSS: The Wrong Solution to a Broken Internet Posted: May 15, 2008 10:16 AM
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> Maybe someone can explain why nothing seems to be
> happening about this issue that, more than anything,
> plagues the internet and threatens to make it unusable. I
> mean, if you could choose one thing about the net to
> change, wouldn't it be "no more spam, phishing and
> general bad behavior that comes from anonymity?"

The problem is not technical. As you have noted, there are several technical solutions to providing a reliable email identity. The problem is that there is no incentive for anyone in the email business, and plenty of disincentives. Network owners sell bandwidth, and 90% of that bandwidth is devoted to spam. Email service providers have each concocted their own systems for blocking spam, and they don't want a universally-available free service that their competitors might use.

This is a little like the situation in the early 80's where Compuserve and the other big ESPs were claiming that exchanging mail with other services was technically difficult. In that case the demand for a universal protocol was so great that all the little guys using SMTP became a larger group than any one proprietary protocol, and the big guys had to give up their pretense.

The spam problem will be solved, but it will require a simple, universal method for domain owners to publish a list of their authorized transmitters. Receivers can then reject anything claiming to be from their domain, but not coming from an authorized IP address. Meanwhile, the best we can do is sign up with one of the large ESPs, and let them take care of the problem for us.

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