Costly waste of user time is the worst effect of workplace spam, according to an interactive poll of several hundred participants in a Ziff Davis Media eSeminar late last month. Almost three-fifths of seminar attendees named employee distraction as their top concern, ranking it far ahead of IT department burdens or legal issues such as "hostile workplace" liability.
Would-be solution providers should take their cue by minimizing user involvement in e-mail content control. Individual mailbox training of Bayesian rules, for example, may just substitute one distraction for another.
The prospects seem brighter for higher-level solutions, such as sender identification, that can operate at or outside the enterprise perimeter.
Market acceptance of any solution, though, looks to be hard to achieve. Another poll response during the same eSeminar showed that buyers want to preserve the openness, immediacy, nonproprietary nature and freedom from burdensome regulation that have made e-mail so successful—while also paving the way, sad to say, for its abuse.