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These days I work on the update of the Internet Governance booklet. The last update was done back in 2005. I discovered one "policy paradox".... Since 2005, the volume of Spam has tripled, according to conservative estimates (2005: 30 billion messages per day; 2008: 100 billion messages per day). Although we, at Diplo, have a good anit-spam software I spend at least 20 minutes deleting spam messages (mainly from Russia these days). One would expect that Spam is discussed in global policy framework, at least, as much as it was back in 2005 at WSIS/WGIG. But it is not the case. On the contrary... At the IGF-Hyderabad, Spam is mentioned only in the title of one of workshops (out of 91 proposed workshops). The similar situation is in other global/regional frameworks. You can rarely find the article on Spam (unlike back in 2005). Any idea how we can explain this discrepancy between real relevance of the problem and its policy coverage? Just inertia..... power of media or ... conspiracy?

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Comment by Seiiti on November 13, 2008 at 12:15am
Hi - on the spam issue, I have almost zero problem with spam, since I use gmail and it has a good filter as Ginger mentioned.

I use gmail filters to automatically delete emails when some shops get my mail doing irrelevant direct marketing campaigns (like amazon.com which surprisingly has a very inefficient/useless client follow-up). These filter rules take me less than one minute to set up and they are good forever.

Also, whenever I find myself with email lists which are not particularly a priority for me, I set gmail filter rules either archiving or forwarding them to another account that I have only for discussion lists, so I even avoid looking at the email subject lines, keeping myself focused. Same thing - set up like magic in less than one minute.

From time to time (every 2 days or so) when I see that my spam folder is around 50 to 100 messages, I quickly do a vertical read and then permanently delete it all. Takes me about 5 seconds to do this.

So today spam is no problem for me.

My problem is email management/addiction, though. I see that I can still enhance my performance by dedicating less time to emails, and I'm still exploring productivity techniques for that. Any suggestions are welcome.
Comment by Virginia (Ginger) Paque on November 12, 2008 at 8:24pm
Hmm, I know it seemed like I got a lot of Spam 3 years ago, and though I am sure it was less than today, it bothered me more because I did not handle it as well. It is a rare Spam that gets into my Inbox through the gmail filter now, usually some kind of Nigerian scam. I just checked my gmail Spam folder, and found 494 messages from the past 30 days. In my Yahoo Spam folder, an account I don't use much, I had 47 for the same 30 days, all from sites I had signed up to at some point for information or registration of some kind. Strangely enough, my little-used Hotmail account was completely empty! Can we do an informal poll here, trying to get an idea of the numbers? How much of a problem is Spam in numbers and in time wasted?
Comment by Jovan on November 12, 2008 at 7:56pm
Ginger, it is a good point about user-driven agenda. However, my problem is that I have more Spam today than 3 years ago. I could be an exception (bad filters, etc.). What about others?
Comment by Virginia (Ginger) Paque on November 12, 2008 at 11:30am
Policy Fashion? I like that, Jovan. As Spam filters get better and better, perhaps most people think Spam is under control, while in 2005 we had to filter our Spam personally, manually. Is Spam now more an ISP technical problem rather than a user problem? If true, that would seem to be a positive indicator: does it mean IG issues are actually user-motivated? Spam was an issue when it bothered users?

Net Neutrality is another issue affected by "policy fashion" as it is now the new fad, whereas it was an academic and tech issue just a short time ago. In this case, I think the NN issue itself has changed as it becomes defined more clearly--to me the core issue is now content control and choice--and users are realizing it is not a geeky tech issue, but an issue that does and will affect their Internet use. Does policy coverage change as a problem shows itself to be truly relevant to the general user? Maybe this phenomenon will drive solutions. NN certainly got coverage in the US presidential election this month.

Inertia? An issue has to be perceived as important enough to overcome apathy. Power of the media? Hmm. Did the media create the NN issue, so the public followed? Or did NN become important, so the media is finally covering it? NN was a research issue at Diplo when I did the IGCBP in 06, and it is now "policy fashion" with enough media coverage to make it a US election issue. If this is conspiracy, it is a good academic strategy, and we are proving we can make a difference.



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