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Journal Journal: Costly/Effective Punishment for Spammers

Due to careful guarding of my e-mail address, I receive far less spam than some, but when I do it irritates me as much as anyone. I just recently came up with an idea to make the spammers pay for the time they are wasting.

I visited the website referenced in the spam (after making sure to remove any GUID in the URL), selected the largest file referenced on the page (usually either an HTML page itself or the image) using Safari's Activity window, and dropped the URL into this shell script:

#! /bin/csh -f
while (1 == 1)
        curl > /dev/null

I then fired up three copies of it, hid the Terminal windows, and went about my daily routine for the rest of the day. By my calculations, since one site averaged about 5KBps, that costs him 17.5MB of bandwidth per hour per instance of the script. Another site got 10KBps. If lots of people start doing this, it could really help drive up the costs of spamming.

As far as I'm concerned, this is ethical. I'm so interested in their product, I just have to keep downloading that image of it. The fact that on a large scale this might also have the same effect as a DDOS doesn't make it wrong, it just means their server isn't up to handling all these interested visitors.

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The means-and-ends moralists, or non-doers, always end up on their ends without any means. -- Saul Alinsky