Monthly Archives: February 2005

The Rules of Spam

A number of years ago I was active on the usenet newsgroup (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  Most of these people, like me, have apparently dropped out of NANAE and these rules are no longer actively maintained as far as I can tell.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 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.