What is Spam?

Spam, or "unsolicited commercial email" is defined as the flooding of a non-personalized, repeated message to people on the internet who did not choose to receive it. Spam is often classified into two groups: Usenet Spam, and Email Spam.

A single identical message that is repeated on 20 or more newsgroups is considered Usenet Spam. This type of spam is harmful because it floods newsgroups with useless, unsolicited and often irrelevant information thereby rendering the newsgroups less useful for their intended purposes. As the quantity of useless messages increases, the informative capabilities of a newsgroup diminishes, and users with acutal valid information to share are either scared off or lost in the ocean of spam.

We focus here on the latter form of spam, namely: Email Spam. This form targets internet users directly by sending the same, unsolicited email message to large numbers (often in the millions) of email addresses. These messages usually contain advertising for dubious products and services such as "get rich quick" schemes, shady legal services, adult-content websites, "college degrees", "miracle" remedies, and countless others. There are also some extreme cases of Email Spam that contain racial, religious, or sexually inappropriate messages. These are more serious spam offences that often originate from people who may be genuinely disturbed. This type of spam should be approached with extreme caution, and should NEVER be responded to.