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Re: why IPv6 isn't ready for prime time, SMTP edition
From: Robert Drake <rdrake () direcpath com>
Date: Sun, 30 Mar 2014 19:58:37 -0400

On 3/30/2014 12:11 AM, Barry Shein wrote:
I don't know what "WKBI" means and google turns up nothing. I'll guess
"Well Known Bad Idea"?

Since I said that I found the idea described above uninteresting I
wonder what is a "WKBI" from 1997? The idea I rejected?

Also, I remember ideas being shot down on the ASRG (Anti-Spam Research
Group) list primarily because they would take ten years to gain

Over ten years ago.

Maybe they were bad ideas for other reasons. Some certainly were.

But there's this tone of off-the-cuff dismissal, oh that would take
TEN YEARS to gain traction, or that's a WKBI, which I don't find

I read your paper, for example, and said it's a nice paper.

But I don't find it compelling to the degree you seem to want it to be
because it mostly makes a bunch of assumptions about how an e-postage
system would work and proceeds to argue that the particular model you
describe (and some variants) creates impossible or impractical

But what if it worked differently?

At some point you're just reacting to the term "e-postage" and
whatever it happens to mean to you, right?
Imagine living in a world where this system is implemented. Then imagine ways to break it. The first thing I can think of is money laundering through hundreds of source and destination email accounts. The second is stolen identities or credit cards where the money doesn't exist to begin with (Who pays when this happens?)

Third is administrative overhead. Banks/paypal/exchanges/someone is going to want a cut for each transaction, and they deserve one since they're going to end up tracking all of them and need to be able to reverse charges when something goes wrong. But then you have a central point of failure and central monitoring point so you want to involve multiple exchanges, banks, etc.

Then you've got a dictatorship somewhere who says they want an extra $0.03 tacked on to each transaction, only it's not $0.03 it's <insert famously unstable currency here> so any mail that goes to that country has to have custom rules that fluctuate multiple times a day.

Then there is my mom, who knows just enough about computers to send cat pictures and forward me chain letters. She'll not understand that email costs something now, or how to re-up her email account when it runs out. The administrative burden will either fall to me or her ISP, and each phone call to the ISP probably costs them $$ because they must pay a live human to walk someone through email.

You can't really say you've exhaustively worked out every possibility
which might be labelled "e-postage". Only a particular interpretation,
a fairly specific model, or a few.

When people talked of "virtual currency" over the years, often arguing
that it's too hard a problem, how many described bitcoin with its
cryptographic mining etc?

Bitcoin might well be a lousy solution. But there it is nonetheless,
and despite the pile of papers which argued that this sort of thing
was impossible or nearly so.

Note: Yes, I can also argue that Bitcoin is not truly a virtual

Sometimes a problem is like the Gordian Knot of ancient lore which no
one could untie. And then Alexander The Great swung his sword and the
crowds cried "cheat!" but he then became King of Asia just as

  > Regards,
  > John Levine, johnl () iecc com, Primary Perpetrator of "The Internet for Dummies",
  > Please consider the environment before reading this e-mail. http://jl.ly

The answer is that you can't do this to SMTP. Nobody will ever have the answers to all the questions involved with adding cost transactions to the protocol. The only way to do this is to reboot with a new protocol that people start to adopt, and the only way they'll do that is if it's markedly better than the old way. You have to remember some people when given the choice of paying for email or accepting 10 spams/day will opt for accepting a little spam.

The good news is, with email consolidated into 5 or so large providers and most people using webmail or exchange, you've got an opportunity to change the backend. Not much software has to be modified, but you do need those large providers to buy-in to the idea.

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