What if Google decided to make a Gmail account cost $1 a year instead of giving it away for free? And what if you had to use a valid credit card to pay for it?
And further, what if your Google e-mail address had to include your real name?
And what if a violation of Google’s anti-spam rules (I’m assuming they’d have some) would cost $20 per incident?
Suddenly Google would become the gold standard. People would happily let it through the spam filters. You could trust it. People would become suspicious of anyone who used any other online e-mail service.
That is from Seth Godin’s Small is the New Big. Being a naive economist, I would sooner conclude that spam isn’t so big a problem any more. It is at least a smaller problem than the costs of forcing everyone to use a single credit card-based email service. Of course we can imagine less monopolistic versions of this idea but we return to the notion that the open-access provision of the Internet seems more valuable than avoiding spam.