A number of years ago I was active on the usenet newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email (known as NANAE) which is where e-mail administrators used to hang out to discuss spam, spammers, and other issues related to e-mail. Although I haven't visited that newsgroup in years I've kept a copy of the "Rules of Spam" that were developed there. The names mentioned in Corollaries, etc. are all people who were active on NANAE at the time. Most of these people, like me, have apparently dropped out of NANAE and these rules are no longer actively maintained as far as I can tell. So they're here for the sake of posterity if nothing else.
The Rules Of Spam
Rule #0: Spam is theft.
- Angel's Commentary: Spammers believe it's okay to steal a little bit from each person on the Internet at once.
Rule #1: Spammers lie.
- Russel's Admonition: Always assume that there is a measurable chance that the entity you are dealing with is a spammer.
- Lexical Contradiction: Spammers will redefine any term in order to disguise their abuse of Internet resources.
- Sharp's Corollary: Spammers attempt to re-define "spamming" as that which they do not do.
- Finnell's Corollary: Spammers define "remove" as "validate."
Rule #2: If a spammer seems to be telling the truth, see Rule #1.
- Crissman's Corollary: A spammer, when caught, blames his victims.
- Moore's Corollary: Spammers' lies are seldom questioned by mainstream media.
Rule #3: Spammers are stupid.
- Krueger's Corollary: Spammer lies are really stupid.
- Pickett's Commentary: Spammer lies are boring.
- Russell's Corollary: Never underestimate the stupidity of spammers.
- Spinosa's Corollary: Spammers assume everybody is more stupid than themselves.
- Spammer's Standard of Discourse: Threats and intimidation trump facts and logic.
Rule #4: The natural course of a spamming business is to go bankrupt.
Rules-Keeper Shaffer's Refrain: Spammers routinely prove the Rules of Spam are valid.
It has been noted that the Rules of Spam are equally applicable to spam-supporters, spam-tolerant ISPs, and various others who directly or indirectly profit from spam.
The Rules also apply to those people (such as candidates for political office, solicitors for "worthy" causes, propagators of religious faiths, etc.) who deem their message to be of such overwhelming importance that it utterly transcends the rights of others to have the sole and uninhibited enjoyment of their personal property.
The newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email has a long history of dealing with Unsollicited Bulk Email (spam) and those who send it, the spammers. In the history of the group, in discussing how spammers justify their dirty work, sometimes directly with spammers posting in the group, a common set of rules became evident.
These rules were codified as Rules #0 to #3 above. The current Keeper of the Rules is Patricia A. Shaffer. This webpage was created by me, Mart van de Wege, following a debate on the newsgroup. Since there is no consensus yet on Rules #4 and above, this document is not meant to be authoritive.
For a demonstration of the Rules in action it suffices to follow the newsgroup for a couple of days. Without fail, someone will show up and post something that validates these rules. Be warned however, as NANAE is a very busy group, keeping track of it may be a hard task unless you very selectively read only certain threads.
|Your First Post To NANAE|
|Before you create and send your first posting, please read the following|
|Block Lists, Posting Advice, Blocklist History, SPEWS Mini-FAQ|
|Welcome to the newsgroup news.admin.net-abuse.email, known as "nanae"!|
|Executive Summary: Avoid the common mistakes of new posters, carefully consider your Subject: line before posting, don't panic (even if you are angry), and be aware of the skills, knowledge, and in-jokes of frequent participants. Do a little research before you post, and be ready for a wide range of responses once you do post. If time is of the essence, you can skip the Cultures and Characters sections at the end of this document and view either:|
|Please read before posting! The purpose of this FAQ is to prepare you to "look your best" when posting to the group. None of this advice is mandatory, but it will assist you in receiving the best possible response to your message. Since knowledge is power, you are encouraged to "power up" before posting by checking out the following information.|
|Take a deep breath and count to ten before you compose your message. Coming to NANAE making threats is like charging into a warehouse full of leaking gasoline, blasting powder and dynamite with a flame thrower and being incinerated as the warehouse goes up with a colossal ***FOOOOMMMM***, accompained by a rain of popcorn.|
|If you are uncertain that your topic belongs in news.admin.net-abuse.email, please take a few moments to read the POINTER: ALL THESE NET-ABUSE GROUPS! WHICH ONE SHOULD I USE? FAQ|
|Avoid These Mistakes|
|Finally, take the time to read the group for a week or so to get a feeling for the mood of the posters and their responses to other messages. You may also find that any questions you were planning to ask have been answered in various message threads.|
|Also: If you find yourself somewhat bewildered at the apparent contradictions sprinkled throughout this document, you are making great progress and are almost ready to create your first posting to the newsgroup! When you are comfortable with these contradictions, you will be ready to contribute to the ongoing discussion.|
|The Subject: Line|
|The "Subject:" Line: is the most important part of your posting. Given the large amount of traffic in the group, your message may be ignored by those who are short on time if your subject is not clear and descriptive. Generally, the subject should clearly summarize your key point, even if it "gives away" your message. Example subject lines:|
|Be Calm, Don't Panic!|
|If ISPs are rejecting your email you are understandably upset. Before you post, keep this clearly in mind:|
|Don't post anything to Usenet that you wouldn't have on your résumé.|
|Consultants have been censured and employees have been terminated for ill-considered Usenet posts. Embarrassing public apologies/retractions have been posted after "counselling" from employers. Prospective Employers, Enemies, even your Grandmother can read anything you ever post at http://groups.google.com/groups. This message archiving service is free, goes back 10 years, and is available 24/7 to anyone with a web browser. So remember:|
|DON'T POST ANYTHING TO USENET THAT YOU WOULDN'T HAVE ON YOUR RÉSUMÉ because Usenet is used by more & more employers as *part of your résumé*.|
|The Mail Abuse Protection System was one of the first public lists of known spam sources available to all ISPs. It had a policy of accepting "nominations for listing" which was followed by an attempt to educate the abuser. If education was unsuccessful, the nomination for listing was approved.|
|The Spam Prevention Early Warning System is one of many public lists identifying known spam sources. It is also one of the most controversial and effective lists available to Internet Service Providers for controlling the inflow of unsolicited advertising email. If you're posting about a SPEWS listing, be sure to include the record number (S-nnnn). This will ensure the best response and help to conserve valuable administrator time. Keep in mind, however, that the group cannot remove you from any particular list, but what you will get is the best advice on how you can help yourself out of the situation.|
|Brief Blocklist History|
|Courtesy of Frederick, the Amateur Spam Killer in news.admin.net-abuse.email|
|1. AGIS decided to be a spam-supportive major backbone provider in the early days of the spam wars. As long as the spam was sent from some other ISP, AGIS would not pull the spamvertised site. The result was that hundreds of individual ISP admins put pieces, and eventually 100%, of all AGIS netspace into their blacklists, with a note not to remove the blacklists until the heat-death of the universe. AGIS, therefore, died the death of a thousand cuts.
2. MAPS (Mail Abuse Prevention System - www.mail-abuse.org) was eventually set up with the idea of educating the $BADISP on the evils of spam, and then eventually listing pieces of their customer's IP space in a blacklist. It was ultra-conservative. You had to send complaints to the $BADISP, make phone calls, etc, before submitting a nomination to MAPS for inclusion into their blacklist. When it was done, one or two IP's were included, which did essentially nothing to encourage the $BADISP to terminate their spammers. The reason was simple: The spammers sent from a third party ISP, and the MAPS listing did nothing to stop people from going to that website. $BADISP had no incentive to terminate their spammer's accounts, the spammers would continue to spam, and the situation, sadly was not resolved.
3. One major spammer sued MAPS due to their listing (which was perfectly valid). They kept the financial pressure on MAPS until they folded and said "ok, this particular spammer can be removed from the blacklist". MAPS was a good idea that failed.
4. The result was SPEWS. You cannot negotiate with SPEWS. You cannot submit nominations to SPEWS. You cannot beg to get out of SPEWS. SPEWS simply says "$BADISP is hosting spammers." It starts with just the IP space of the spammer, and over a period of time, puts more and more financial pressure on $BADISP by listing more and more of their IP space until $BADISP gains clue, i.e., keep the spammer and lose legitimate customers (bleed money right and left), or lose the spammer and keep the legitimate customers (be profitable).
|Opposition To Spam|
|Spamming is a violation of:|
|Introduction, eh? This introduction is located midway through the document so that those who are in a hurry and need the bare essential information prior to posting are served first. Thank you for taking the time to dig a little deeper into the inner workings of the newsgroup!
Group Purpose: Nanae is where computer system administrators and other dedicated spam fighters gather to share information on responding to abusive email practices, most notably unsolicited bulk/advertising email (also known as "spam"), open relays, and address obfuscation. You will also find an occasional running battle with a spam supporter who decides to vent in the group.
Assistance: Requests for help and advice are welcome and will generally receive a fairly prompt and detailed response.
Spam Tracking: It is vitally important that you include complete headers for a spam email (the spam message itself is irrelevant and should be deleted from your posting) if you desire help tracking the source. Be sure to mention what you've tried in your effort to analyze the headers, or what is causing the problem in your analysis when you post your message. It is okay -- encouraged, really -- for you to delete or munge URLs and email addresses of yourself and innocent third-parties so they are not harvested by the spammers. From the munging FAQ, maintained by W.D. Basely:
Full Headers: Instructions for getting full headers from various popular email programs are available from many sources, including:
|Culture: Over the years, a friendly camaraderie has formed among the frequent posters, and the group as a whole has formed its own unique way of doing things. You'll find wildly off-topic [OT] subjects tend to form frequently within threads among those who know each other, just as you'd see at any gathering of like-minded individuals. Some of the unique concepts in the group include:
|Characters: As with most newsgroups, nanae has it's share of kooks, weirdos, and charlatans. Their postings are usually answered with "Do Not Feed The Troll" followups, sometimes including some very clever ASCII art (best viewed using a monospaced font). Flamers and judgemental types abound, mostly as a form of defense against the relentless abuse they receive as a part of their daily job, and their information is just as good as others (if a bit hard to take at times).
Welcome to news.admin.net-abuse.email!
|Reading the News.Admin.Net-Abuse.Email newsgroup.
RFC 1855: Netiquette for email and Usenet
|Pick a site nearby for best performance.
|Thanks to the following, who carefully read the original drafts(s), giggled themselves silly at all the errors, and were somehow able to offer constructive criticism with a straight face:
|12 December, 2002: Added "Qualifying A New ISP", thanks to John Elsbury
9 October, 2002: Added Blocklist History section, thanks to Frederick
22 September, 2002: Updated SPEWS information to Mini-FAQ status
28 August, 2002: Rearranged sections so those in a hurry get the good stuff first.
20 August, 2002: Added Executive Summary, divided FAQ into three parts, added Popcorn to Culture
8 August, 2002: Rough draft posted for suggestions.
FAQ maintained by: George Crissman,
|Contents Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 by George Crissman. All rights reserved worldwide|