A Dime per Chime

So I was over at Modern Mechanics having a browse as I’m wont to do, and I found this great article about an invention to keep canvassers and peddlers from ringing your doorbell.

The principle is simple enough – the doorbell won’t ring unless you first pay a dime into the slot, thereby discouraging anyone without a legitimate purpose. If you’re an approved caller, your dime can be refunded on opening of the door. If you’re just a hustler you lose your dime and it goes to charity. Brilliant enough – there are times when I would have found this mighty handy.

Then I had a brainwave (and I’m actually being serious here folks, for a change): take this idea and remodel it for the digital world and you have a fantastic method of stopping email spam in it’s tracks.

Now there have been a few different pay-per-mail schemes mooted in the past, but they tend to come from people like Microsoft who have a view setting up yet another revenue stream (and heck knows they really need it). They invariably operate on the principle that you make a micropayment for each email you send. In other words, it’s using the old Post Office concept – you stamp your mail to send it. And it costs you.

I’m suggesting something significantly different.

Here’s how I propose it would work: If someone wants to send you an email they must pay you a small fee – say the equivalent of a mailed letter. Their email goes into your Inbox and when you see who it’s from, you approve it and their fee is refunded. You only need to do this once for every sender.

Spammers would be completely stymied – sending millions of unsolicited emails would cost a fortune. Genuine advertisers could still send you email, but they would have to pay – and if you declined their dime, they would lose it.

The money would be held in some kind of escrow, and from time to time you would approve its donation to charity. The escrow slush fund could also finance the service that facilitates the process.

This idea also answers one of the the most widely-voiced objections to a ‘paid’ email system: that users would have to start paying for something that is already free. With my Dime Per Chimeâ„¢ scheme the end user doesn’t pay at all![tippy title=”¹”]In fact the biggest drawback I can see is that it might become too effective, thereby rendering the whole idea worthless…[/tippy]

Sum effect: End user happy, charities happy, spammers very very unhappy. O frabjous day!

Is this not genius?

Help me beta it Cowerati!


¹In fact the biggest drawback I can see is that it might become too effective, thereby rendering the whole idea worthless…