Pricing Electronic Mail to Solve the Problem of Spam

51 Pages Posted: 16 Jul 2003

See all articles by Robert E. Kraut

Robert E. Kraut

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business; Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management; Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management

James Morris

Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Abstract

Junk email or spam is rapidly choking off email as a reliable and efficient means of communication over the Internet. While the demand for human attention increases rapidly with the volume of information and communication, the supply of attention hardly changes. Markets are a social institution for efficiently allocating supply and demand of scarce resources. Charging a price for sending messages may help discipline senders from demanding more attention than they are willing to pay for. Price may also inform recipients about the value of a message they read it. This paper presents an economic model and the results of two laboratory experiments to explore the consequences of a pricing system for electronic mail. Charging postage for email causes senders to be more selective and to send fewer messages. However, the recipients did not use the postage paid by senders as a signal of message importance. These results suggest that markets for attention have potential for addressing the problem of spam, but that their design needs more work.

JEL Classification: D40, D61, L50, L86, L96, O33

Suggested Citation

Kraut, Robert E. and Sunder, Shyam and Telang, Rahul and Morris, James H., Pricing Electronic Mail to Solve the Problem of Spam. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=417621 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.417621

Robert E. Kraut (Contact Author)

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-7694 (Phone)
412-268-1266 (Fax)

Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States

Shyam Sunder

Yale University - School of Management ( email )

165 Whitney Avenue
P.O. Box 208200
New Haven, CT 06520-8200
United States
203-432-6160 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.som.yale.edu/faculty/sunder/

Yale University - Cowles Foundation

Box 208281
New Haven, CT 06520-8281
United States

Rahul Telang

Carnegie Mellon University - H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management ( email )

4800 Forbes Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-1155 (Phone)

James H. Morris

Carnegie Mellon University - School of Computer Science ( email )

5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213
United States
412-268-2574 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www-2.cs.cmu.edu/~jhm/

Register to save articles to
your library

Register

Paper statistics

Downloads
206
Abstract Views
3,396
rank
56,742
PlumX Metrics