On the Op Ed pages of the Wall Street Journal, on Thursday, September 6, 2007 a piece, written by Jonathan Koomey, Marshall Van Alstyne and Erik Brynjolfsson entitled You've Got Spam (sub. required) caught my attention and generated the following letter to the editor:

Introducing a new email system for the billion Internet users as proposed by the esteemed authors of the oped piece 'You've Got Mail' (Thursday, September 6, 2007) is like introducing the metric system to the United States. It may be wonderful to have a uniform measurement system around the whole world, but the benefits of that as compared to the horrendous changes required in peoples lives are a little out of proportion. Maybe, it would be best to implement this new email system in a Communist country first, or in Canada where the people are used to having the government tell them what to do. When Canadians implemented the metric system in the 1970s, it was by federal decree and the government ended up taking butchers to jail for measuring their ground beef by the pound and not the official kilogram.

In research that my firm has conducted involving 520 business users of email, (Report: The Problem with Email, The Spam Index Report) email is found to be the most important communications service to the success of the business, yet only a small fraction are satisfied with the email experience. We invented the Spam Index as a simple measure comparing one users' experience with spam against another user or over time. We also compared the Spam Index for the various technologies in use by these survey respondents. Our report (http://www.brockmann.com) showed that some technologies perform better than others. Specifically, challenge-response users (customers of Reflexion, Sendio, SpamArrest, Vanquish) had the lowest average Spam Index (good), the most consistent Spam Index (good) and the highest levels of user satisfaction with the email experience (50% higher than the next best solution being the hosted processor a la Google-Postini or Message Labs).

The issue is that while we wait for the perfect solution to addressing anonymity (by the way, the Domain Key Identified Mail standard is really a tax that raises the cost of doing email for all), which may be years away from complete or nearly complete implementation (IP version 6 anyone?), businesses need to invest to protect their users from the time suck and error-prone popular methods of dealing with spam. Our research shows that there are excellent business reasons to invest in improving one's Spam Index and that there are effective solutions for business users today, that don't require any action by the email providers. There is no excuse for allowing spam into your users' email inboxes.

— P


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