[unisog] The Impact of Spam on your Institution

Paul Russell prussell at nd.edu
Tue Feb 10 22:36:07 GMT 2004

William Yang wrote:
 > How expensive is it to hit the delete key, really?

The marginal cost for a single recipient to "just hit delete" for a single piece
of spam is, indeed, miniscule. But we are not talking about a single recipient
and a single piece of spam.

Recently, I was discussing the spam problem with an individual who stated that
it takes approximately 20 minutes a day to delete all the junk mail he receives.
He works for a company with 300 employees. If the average employee spends 20
minutes a day deleting spam, the employees are spending 100 man hours per day
deleting spam. If the average employee makes $10 per hour, spam is costing the
company $1000 per in lost productivity. And that figure does not include the
cost of additional hardware resources required to handle the additional load
imposed by spam.

Maybe the average employee spends more time, or less, deleting spam. Maybe the
average employee makes more, or less, than $10 per hour. We can quibble about
the details, but the big picture is indisputable - spam costs a lot of money.

One piece of spam doesn't cost much in time or resources, just like one little
paper cut won't hurt you, but when you start adding it up, it's like death from
a thousand cuts.

 > I find the 50% metric very hard to believe ...

I have seen "expert" estimates ranging from 25% to 70%. Our experience leads me
to believe that approximately 40% of the non-virus messages sent to addresses in
our domain are spam.

 > ... along with giving up my expectation that e-mail is going to
 > exist without a fairly high volume of junk mail.

Some of us believe that we should not have to give up that expectation.

Paul Russell
Senior Systems Administrator
University of Notre Dame

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