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Pricing Electronic Mail to Solve the Problem of Spam

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Author Info

  • Robert Kraut
  • Shyam Sunder
  • Rahul Telang
  • James Morris

Abstract

Junk e-mail or spam is rapidly choking off e-mail as a reliable and efficient means of communication over the Internet. Although the demand for human attention increases rapidly with the volume of information and communication, the supply of attention hardly changes. Markets are a social institution for efficiently allocating supply and demand of scarce resources. Charging a price for sending messages may help discipline senders from demanding more attention than they are willing to pay for. Price may also credibly inform recipients about the value of a message to the sender before they read it. This article examines economic approaches to the problem of spam and the results of two laboratory experiments to explore the consequences of a pricing system for electronic mail. Charging postage for e-mail causes senders to be more selective and to send fewer messages. However, recipients did not interpret the postage paid by senders as a signal of the importance of the messages. These results suggest that markets for attention have the potential for addressing the problem of spam but their design needs further development and testing.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Yale School of Management in its series Yale School of Management Working Papers with number amz2638.

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Date of creation: 01 Jul 2005
Date of revision: 01 Oct 2005
Handle: RePEc:ysm:somwrk:amz2638

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Web page: http://icf.som.yale.edu/
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Related research

Keywords: spam; Junk; pricing e-mail; market for attention;

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Cited by:
  1. repec:clg:wpaper:2008-09 is not listed on IDEAS
  2. Josef Falkinger, 2003. "Attention Economies," CESifo Working Paper Series 1079, CESifo Group Munich.
  3. Chiao, Benjamin & MacKie-Mason, Jeffrey, 2012. "Using uncensored communication channels to divert spam traffic," Information Economics and Policy, Elsevier, vol. 24(3), pages 173-186.
  4. Eran Reshef & Eilon Solan, 2005. "Analysis of Do-Not-Spam Registry," Discussion Papers 1411, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  5. Caliendo, Marco & Clement, Michel & Papies, Dominik & Scheel-Kopeinig, Sabine, 2008. "The Cost Impact of Spam Filters: Measuring the Effect of Information System Technologies in Organizations," IZA Discussion Papers 3755, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Agnès Festré & Pierre Garrouste, 2012. "The ‘Economics of Attention’: A New Avenue of Research in Cognitive Economics," GREDEG Working Papers 2012-12, Groupe de REcherche en Droit, Economie, Gestion (GREDEG CNRS), University of Nice Sophia Antipolis.
  7. Benjamin Chiao & Jeffrey MacKie-Mason, 2006. "Using Uncensored Communication Channels to Divert Spam Traffic," Working Papers 06-20, NET Institute, revised Oct 2006.
  8. Eilon Solan & Eran Reshef, 2005. "The Effect of Filters on Spam Mail," Discussion Papers 1402, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
  9. Curtis B. Eaton & Ian A. MacDonald & Laura Meriluoto, 2008. "Spam - solutions and their problems," Working Papers in Economics 08/21, University of Canterbury, Department of Economics and Finance.

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