How Much Would You Pay Me to Read Your Email?

I am so tired of spam emails. I keep thinking about how we can fight spam, and here is an idea.

Gmail should change its system: every email you send to me would cost 1 dollar, payable to me. We can add an exception for people on my contact list. Everyone else, pay up!

I do not often contact strangers. But if I do, it is always important. So paying 1 dollar seems more than fair. On the other hand, this system will immediately discourage mass emails to strangers. Spam would go down, and I would stop receiving emails inviting me to buy a pill to increase the size of a body part I do not have.

This idea of getting paid for reading an email is not new. It was implemented by Jim Sanborn, the creator of the famous Kryptos sculpture. Kryptos is located at the CIA headquarters and has four encrypted messages. People tried to decrypt them and would send Jim their wrong solutions. Jim got tired of all the emails and administered Kryptos fees. Anyone who wants Jim to check their solution, can do so by paying him 50 dollars. I wonder if Jim would still charge the fee if someone sent him the correct solution.

Thinking about it, I would like the payable email system to be customizable, so I can charge whatever I want. After all, I do value my time.

Gmail could get a small percentage. Either Gmail, together with me, gets rich, or spam goes away. Both outcomes would make my life easier.



  1. What for:

    I have a cheaper and less insulting solution:
    Share your “How Much Would You Pay Me to Read Your Email?”
    post to the people you know and all your spam contacts. It worked perfectly on me!
    To the point I have never contacted you, never will and now I don’t even want to read you anymore.

  2. Cristóbal Camarero:

    It could also be a deposit that is refunded upon verification. Nevertheless, it would require changing all clients, so it would never be globally adopted.

  3. tanyakh:

    Yes, Cristobal. It could be that the deposit is only charged when the receiver marks the email as spam.

  4. Gregory:

    From a practical perspective, it would sadly mean that Musk could spam you all he wanted, but a randomly selected bright student might not have the means (or the means to risk it if it were only charged on being marked as unwanted). It’s hard to tell about people you don’t know how they would mark a cold letter.

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