February 2017


Since the invention of the World Wide Web resources have become widespread and the flow of information on the network of networks never stops growing. However, the contents of the data has not evolved in the right direction and many people have quickly become abusive users of these resources.

Spamming is the sending of unsolicited bulk e-mail to senders who have not requested it.

The principle of spam

Spamming involves sending several identical e-mails (often advertisements) to a large number of people over the Internet. The word "spam" is a brand of canned meat registered by the Hormel corporation.

The association with unsolicited bulk emailing comes from a Monty Python sketch (Monty Python's famous spam-loving Vikings), which takes place in a Viking restaurant where the specialty is "spam" canned meat. A customer orders a different dish, then all the other customers sing together "spam spam spam spam spam..." so loud that the waiter can't hear the poor customer.

People who send unsolicited bulk e-mail advertisements are called spammers, a word now with a negative tone, with many countries outlawing this practice.

Why spam?

The main purpose of spam is to advertise at as low a cost as possible by sending unsolicited bulk e-mail (abbreviated to UBE) or junk mail.
Spammers often claim, in their defense, that it is easy to delete e-mail, and therefore this is a more environmentally-friendly type of advertising.
Many spammers often use this defense to promote spam.


The effectiveness of spam is due to the volume of e-mail sent out. An e-mail sent to 5 or 6 people using the CC function would not be considered spam. Unsolicited e-mail sent to more than 20 users could be considered spam.
The Breidbart Index is a formula which calculates wether an email can be considered spam or not:

Breidbart Index for spam

Using this formula, when a message reaches 20 on the Breidbart Index it is considered spam. However, it does not take into account the period of time over which the e-mails were sent, therefore it does not easily determine if an e-mail is spam or not.

The effects of spam

The main drawback of spam is the amount of space it occupies on the network, using up a certain amount of bandwidth.

Spam incurs extra costs for Internet service providers (ISP) as they must:

  • install extra bandwidth
  • buy extra servers to cope with spam
  • have more disk space available
  • employ more staff to deal with complaints

All of a sudden, these extra costs are passed on to the customer, with extra fees and time wasted needlessly sorting out the good e-mail from the bad e-mail.

Fighting spam

The most important thing to do is never reply to these emails, that just makes things worse, getting drawn into the same game as the spammers.
Therefore you should not:

  • Reply to spam, as this lets spammers know that your e-mail address is valid;
  • Threaten spammers, that just annoys them;
  • Send mailbombs to spammers
  • Send spam to the spammers.

Inspired by a text from Eric Labbe


This document, titled "Spam," is available under the Creative Commons license. Any copy, reuse, or modification of the content should be sufficiently credited to CCM (