[hashcash] PR Problem?

  • From: DeLesley Hutchins <delesley.spambox@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: hashcash@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 9 Nov 2006 16:48:44 +0000 (UTC)

When I first read about HashCash in 2004, I thought to myself: "What a great
idea!  I'm sure someone will add it to my e-mail client soon," and I went
happily on my way.  Two years later, the trickle of spam has become a flood, my
Bayesian filter is overwhelmed, and... HashCash seems to have vanished into
obscurity.  There was a flurry of articles and interest in 2004, a few in 2005,
and then... nothing.

I was surprised to find that Thunderbird still has no HashCash support.  It's a
popular mail-reader, open source, with a plugin architecture. A quick check on
Bugzilla shows that the HashCash feature request is in the top 20 (out of
thousands!) by number of votes, but nobody seems to be working on it!

What happened?  Spam is an ever-more-painful thorn in the side of every computer
user, so I would expect to see whole teams of open-source programmers inventing
a bazillion different ways of fighting it.  Instead, I see filters, and filters,
and yet more filters.  I would have thought that the decision to implement
HashCash was a no-brainer.  It's very simple to implement, it has the
overwhelming advantage (compared to DomainKeys etc.) that it doesn't require
major infrastructure changes, and it can be optionally enabled on a per-user
basis.  This is a perfect opportunity for the open-source community to lead the
entire industry.

As I see it, this isn't a technical problem.  You folks at hashcash.org have
written the basic software.  It's been part of SpamAssassin for years.  
All we need is client (MUA) support, and it's not your job to integrate it into
every e-mail client.  

This seems to be a political/PR problem.  I am totally mystified as to why there
is so little interest from the authors of e-mail clients.  I assume that you've
had many discussions with the mozilla developers and others -- what was the
response?  Why the lack of enthusiasm?


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