A little history, and some scary statistics: Damn Spam
[...] “The amount of harm done by any of the cited ‘unfair’ things the net has been used for is clearly very small,’’ the Internet pioneer Richard Stallman wrote a few days after the DEC e-mail. Stallman opposed any action that would interfere with the aggressive openness that came to define the Web. And he still does. In his message about the DEC spam, Stallman pointed out—three decades before the appearance of Craigs-list and Monster.com—that the network provided a unique opportunity to advertise jobs and an entirely new way to sell products. He went even further: “Would a dating service on the net be ‘frowned upon’ . . . ? I hope not. But even if it is, don’t let that stop you from notifying me via net mail if you start one.”
I have no idea whether anyone on the Arpanet tried to help Stallman find a date, but thousands of people have tried to help me. [...]
[...] [Microsoft's John] Scarrow told me that of the four billion e-mails processed by Hotmail every day, they deliver only six hundred million. The rest are spam.
[...] “But I wanted to fix the problem and return to the bliss that existed before spam,’’ he said. “Often the fight is fun, like a game. But last year there were some low points. We started getting these image spams, and the spammer would adapt to anything we did. He would write software that cut the image into little pieces that reassembled by the time you opened your mail. When we figured out how to deal with that, he started making text that waved around and curved in odd ways. So we figured that out. Then he started with random images.’’ [Google's Brad] Taylor laughed. “This went on for a while. But, finally, he just gave up. And that’s our hope. It’s kind of like war. One side eventually gets tired. And we just can’t let it be us.”