Spam is usually considered to be electronic junk mail or junk newsgroup postings. Some people define spam even more generally as any unsolicited email. However, if a long-lost brother finds your email address and sends you a message, this could hardly be called spam, even though it is unsolicited. Real spam is generally email advertising for some product sent to a mailing list or newsgroup.
Why Spam is a Problem
In addition to wasting people's time with unwanted email, spam also eats up a lot of network bandwidth. Consequently, there are many organizations, as well as individuals, who have taken it upon themselves to fight spam with a variety of techniques. But because the Internet is public, there is really little that can be done to prevent spam, just as it is impossible to prevent junk mail. However, some online services have instituted policies to prevent spammers from spamming their subscribers.
Why is it Called Spam?
There is some debate about the source of the term, but the generally accepted version is that it comes from the Monty Python song, "Spam spam spam spam, spam spam spam spam, lovely spam, wonderful spam". Like the song, spam is an endless repetition of worthless text. Another school of thought maintains that it comes from the computer group lab at the University of Southern California who gave it the name because it has many of the same characteristics as the lunch meat Spam:
The term spam can also be used to describe any "unwanted" email from a company or website -- typically at some point a user would have agreed to receive the email via subscription list opt-in -- a newer term called graymail is used to describe this particular type of spam.
Related Spam Articles
See also phishing, a type of email scam that is used to fraudulently obtain personal information or details of your online accounts.
Stay up to date on the latest developments in Internet terminology with a free weekly newsletter from Webopedia. Join to subscribe now.
Webopedia's student apps roundup will help you to better organize your class schedule and stay on top of assignments and homework. Read More »List of Free Shorten URL Services
A URL shortener is a way to make a long Web address shorter. Try this list of free services. Read More »Top 10 Tech Terms of 2015
The most popular Webopedia definitions of 2015. Read More »
The Open System Interconnection (OSI) model defines a networking framework to implement protocols in seven layers. Use this handy guide to compare... Read More »Computer Architecture Study Guide
Webopedia's computer architecture study guide is an introduction to system design basics. It describes parts of a computer system and their... Read More »What Are Network Topologies?
Network Topology refers to layout of a network. How different nodes in a network are connected to each other and how they communicate is... Read More »