For the past couple of weeks, I’ve really been siezed by the idea that email is just dying. The thought really hit me when I went to visit my parents and checked out their email. Last fall I set them up with Mozilla Thunderbird and told them how to use the Bayesian filter. They’ve been following my directions and still a bunch of spam is getting through, even after I layered SpamAssassin on top of it. More spam is making it through my filters as well. I get several bounced emails a day thanks to viruses that have infected other people and sent out mail with my return address. I’m still getting passworded zip files with viruses in them thanks to other email viruses. More than that, I just suck at keeping up with my email, period. I’m over 100 threads behind on the Apache Axis mailing list I’m subscribed to, and I owe a bunch of people personal email as well (sorry, people).

One thing that’s increasingly apparent to me is that the spammers are testing their email against email filters. In the most basic sense, spam and spam filters are really no different than ballistic missiles and missile defense. The offense has a huge advantage, because the defense never has the advantage of initiative. It’s unfortunate that there are no effective offensive strategies against spammers. I think that in this case, preemption is called for.