SpamStats: The Hobby

It’s an experiment. Maybe a dumb one,  since it involves allowing 350 megabytes of email to just pile up, most of it unread, a lot of it unreadable. But the point was trying to learn about spam. It sure looks like a lot comes in. But how much? From whom? Whence? (Yes, whence?)

The first question is easy to answer. And since nothing is new under the sun,  it’s also easy to find innocent-looking email account holders who have been keeping track. Like this guy — he used to archive all his spam, and has a running record of the volume back to 1996. He gets a lot more than I do.

The second question is easy, on the surface. There are lots of real-looking names attached to spam messages. Lots of people who use just their first names, like they’re your buds. I just now got a note from David, telling me I can get 90 percent off a nice piece of maintenance software. Wow. Thanks, David. He gets deleted with the rest. But looking back to last December, I see David has sent me six messages, all trying to turn me on to a great deal of some kind. And lots of other Junkmail Daves and Spam Davids, many complete with last names — 37 in all — have contacted me to let me in on the latest in “teenz hardcore software account-past-due horse-humpin’ action.”

Some of these Davids might be real people. But if they are, they didn’t send this stuff. So, who really did? And where are they operating?

If that was easy to find out, we wouldn’t have spam. But for the next little while — let’s please not inquire for how long, because it might expose ugly truths about my attention span — I’m just going to sift through the last year’s worth of filth, free offers, and fun to try to answer some of the Big Spam Questions of Our Age.