Article: What is Spam?

by Michael Bloch

spam: noun

Spam is unsolicited email on the Internet. From the sender's pointofview, it's a form of bulk mail, often to a list culled from subscribers to a Usenet discussion group or obtained by companies that specialize in creating email distribution lists.

To the receiver, it usually seems like junk email. In general, it's not considered good netiquette to send spam. It's generally equivalent to unsolicited phone marketing calls except that the user pays for part of the message since everyone shares the cost of maintaining the Internet.

Some apparently unsolicited email is, in fact, email people agreed to receive when they registered with a site and checked a box agreeing to receive postings about particular products or interests. This is known as both optin email and permissionbased email.

Spam also bogs down the internet with unneccessary transactions to the point that I have seen it crash servers that have to deal with literally thousands of junk messages flooding them all at once.

A firsthand report indicates that the term is derived from a famous Monty Python sketch ("Well, we have Spam, tomato & Spam, egg & Spam, Egg, bacon & Spam...") that was current when spam first began arriving on the Internet. Spam is a trademarked Hormel meat product that was wellknown in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II.

Michael Bloch
Tutorials, web content and tools, software and community.
Web Marketing, eCommerce & Development solutions.

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About the Author

Michael is an Australian Information Technologies trainer and web developer. Many other free web design, ecommerce development and Internet articles, tutorials, tools and resources are available from his award winning site; Taming the (

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