It wasn’t more than a few weeks ago that I was ribbing Lycos for getting into the search engine optimization business. Well they’ve surprised me again with yet another off-the-wall idea: creating a spam vigilante screensaver called “Make Love Not Spam” that overwhelms spammers’ web servers with garbage traffic. What were they thinking? This idea, while a clever one, makes the participants no better than the spammers, and also has them breaking the law for being involved with a denial of service attack. I’m all for waging war on spam and spammers, but it needs to be done ethically, imho.
Danny Goodman’s thoughtful response to the Lycos screensaver gives the following 7 irrefutable reasons why this approach to spam fighting is flawed:
- Genuine or near-Denial of Service attacks may be outright illegal in some jurisdictions around the world
- By using your computer to initiate such attacks, you may be putting yourself in violation of your own ISP’s Terms of Service
- Fighting abuse with abuse only escalates the initial abuser’s determination to overcome the retaliation
- Eventually, no matter how carefully the sponsors try, innocent Web sites whose URLs were included in messages by spammers would be hit by the attack
- Do you really want to contribute more garbage traffic to the Internet?
- I refuse to sink to the same level as an abuser
- No matter how big your boot, you’ll miss cockroaches with your stomp, and they’ll be back before you know it
In the end a pile of complaints brought Lycos to their senses, and this screensaver has been yanked.