Should your ISP be able to determine what email lands in your inbox? We don’t think so and neither does Slashdot.
Two recent posts by Bennett Haselton on Slashdot illustrate the problems with the approach that Goodmail and Hotmail have for certifying senders. Bennett’s take is that if you are the little email list owner, small time email marketer or have the wrong political views, you could be shut out of this brave new world of pay-per-email. Most of the little guys can’t or won’t pay fees to be “certified” by either company.
Who do you trust?
As someone who uses email to manage both my personal and business life, the question I have to ask myself is, “Can I trust my ISP to make decisions for me about who can reach me?” Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that question. I do believe that they want to decrease the amount of spam their users receive, but I think this is the wrong way to do it.
Boxbe differs from both Hotmail and Goodmail in two fundamental ways. With Hotmail and Goodmail, the money collected goes to your ISP and they alone determine who can circumvent their spam filter. With Boxbe, the bulk of the money goes to the person who receives the email, and it’s the same person that ultimately controls who reaches their inbox.
Conflict of interest
From a business perspective, Goodmail must seem like a great idea. If someone came along and said, “Hey, we can curb your spam problem and you can make money while you’re doing it,” I could see how it might be hard to say no. But at some point that misalignment of interests is going to play itself out.
The EFF put it best with its position on Goodmail and the whole notion of pay-per-email:
Goodmail reduces the incentive for ISPs to improve spam filters, much less to give end users more control of the filters. It increases the incentives for ISPs to overblock, since they make money when more senders sign up for Goodmail.
Bottom line: they decide who can send you email while at the same time they solicit “protection money” from senders willing to pay.
How Boxbe fits in
So, we’ve got a different philosophy about how this should work. If you’re a Boxbe member, you know we don’t think that payment to bypass a spam filter is a bad thing. It’s our raison d’être.
We believe people should have choices in who they receive email from. More importantly, we believe if money is going to change hands to reach you, you should get most of it. It’s your inbox, you decide who you can trust.
image from Flickr user srish