Wave goodbye to spam

Google Wave combines the best of email, instant messaging and real-time collaborative editing into a new form of online communication.

The email paradigm of ‘send and receive’ is replaced with a model of hosted conversations, in which “people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more.”

Wave is refreshingly ambitious. In years to come, I hope we will be waving nostalgically about email as “something that my parents used to do.”

This blog post describes an idea built upon Google Wave that could also turn email *spam* into the stuff of nostalgia.

Spam sent by people you don’t know is a real pain in the inbox. But simply ignoring emails from people you don’t know is not the answer. (Otherwise I would never have learnt about my recent win on the Nigerian lottery. Just kidding.)

So how might Google Wave help us to finally wave goodbye to spam?

  • assume that developers will build robots to connect my wave account with the rest of my social graph (either that &/or Google plugs in Friend Connect)
  • if someone (or a spambot) outside of my social graph invites me to a wave, my wave server responds to that invite with a reCAPTCHA challenge (try one out below)

  • a spambot will fail to solve the reCAPTCHA so i am spared the distraction of spam waves
  • a genuine person however will be able to solve the reCAPTCHA challenge, so i can enjoy an invite for a genuine non-spam wave
  • alternatively the genuine person can befriend me on Facebook, Twitter, etc. to avoid the need for a reCAPTCHA
  • and later the genuine person can befriend me on Google Wave to avoid the need for futher reCAPTCHAs

Here’s the translation for my parents: “if I am sent an email by someone I don’t know yet, make sure it’s from a real person before bothering me about more /iagra.”

This solution could be built as an optional extension to a wave server. But that would not be optimal for genuine people waving to others they don’t yet know, because multiple reCAPTCHAs might be required for a single wave. So an improvement would be:

  • when a reCAPTCHA is solved, my wave server issues a “Turing token” (proof of humanity) that is also valid for other invitees connected to my social graph
  • this “Turing token” can be securely federated between wave servers so that others in my social graph know that the wave originated from a genuine person

That’s it; an idea for combating spam using Google Wave. Thoughts please!

[Update 16 September 09] Google Acquires reCAPTCHA


This post originated as a tweet that was imported here by Fresh From, and then I thought about it some more.

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