Spams on Bionet

Ian A. York iayork at
Fri Jun 27 12:20:46 EST 1997

Dom Spinella (dspinella at wrote:
> So what's the story with all the recent teen porn spams in this
> usegroup? I'm for free speech as much as the next guy, but surely there

These spams are the product of a single person, probably the same one
responsible for a previous massive spam bout (or bouts).  The person is
systematically moving from one provider to another, leaving a trail of
scorched earth in his path.  He probably doesn't last more than a day or
so at any one provider before the tidal wave of complaints causes his
account to be destroyed; unfortunately there are many incompetent
providers who do make accounts available with no checks or provisos. 

The volunteers who cancel spam on Usenet have cancelled literally tens of
thousands of these--probably many hundreds of thousands by now--but the
structure of Usenet means that not all articles can get cancelled. 
Moreover, mailing lists are less affected by cancels, so if you receive
this group by mail you probably are seeing more spam than those who read
it as News. 

What can you do about it?  To be honest, probably not much.  If you are
adept at reading headers, you can complain to the current ISP from which
the spam is originating.  Since there are probably already tens of
thousands of complaints, you aren't likely to make a huge difference, but
every little bit helps.

On Usenet, with a good newsreader, you can try to set up a killfile to
filter out the spam posts.  This isn't easy, because the From: and
Subject:  lines are variable (deliberately so, of course). 

You might be able to identify the ISP operating the site he is
advertising, or companies associated with it (I haven't looked, so I don't
know whether he's selling ads, for example).  If so, you might complain to
them, and also to sites that provide connectivity to the abusive ISP. 
(Since it's unlikely the offending site cares about morals, ethics, or
complaints, you will probably not get a useful response from them, which
is why you might need to go upstream in the connection path.)

This group could go to moderation.  I personally think that would be an
overreaction to what is, hopefully, a temporary annoyance.  Moderation
has its disadvantages, particularly on a group which, like this one, is
not a low-volume group.

In the longer run, you can try to ensure that spammers are more
effectively blocked.  All ISPs should have clear and effective terms of
service, which explicitly disallow spam and which penalize spammers
financially.  If this spammer had to actually bear the costs of
transmitting his garbage, and of responding to complaints, then he'd be
bankrupt by now.  Few ISPs, though, will bill spammers appropriately: This
should be done, because otherwise *we* are paying for the transmission of
*his* advertisments.  Until spammers are forced to pay for their own
costs, it isn't going to go away.  Try to be sure your ISP has effective

You can also spare a kind thought for the cancellers, who have cleared up
the great bulk of the garbage before you even saw it and who are, by and
large, the most effective people at forcing the spammer to get kicked off
each ISP.  If it wasn't for them, we'd be seeing a hundred times as much
spam, and Usenet would be completely unusable.

      Ian York   (iayork at  <>
      "-but as he was a York, I am rather inclined to suppose him a
       very respectable Man." -Jane Austen, The History of England

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