Yahoo: A penny for your (emailed) thoughts

17 Aug 2009

In a novel way of cutting spam while increasing charity donations, Yahoo is launching CentMail, an email service whereby you will pay a penny for every email you send.

Why would you want to pay for sending an email when it is already free?

Well, CentMail will act as a kind of anti-spam postage stamp: every time you send an email a donation will be send to a charity of your choice, with this donation serving as a verification that your email is genuine and not spam.

Rather than buying each stamp for 1c, the user would donate US$5 to their chosen charity via in return for 500 tokens that can then double as anti-spam verification when added into your email.

“Since spammers can’t afford to pay even just one cent per message, these CentMail-certified donations help distinguish humans from bots,” explains Dan Reeves, research scientist at Yahoo Research.

As Reeves points out, some people are no so keen on the idea: “I wouldn’t donate belly button lint for this lunacy.”

“Charging per email is a stupid idea, and must have been thought up by someone with not enough real work to do,” says another.

If CentMail intrigues you but you’re not sure how feasible it is, have a read of the CentMail FAQ. One thing it might be good for is getting rid of all those annoying forwarded jokes and chain emails from your friends.

Image: Andresrueda via Flickr