UBE stands for unsolicited bulk email while SPAM stands for any kind of unwanted email be it unsolicited, solicited, non-bulk or bulk. This is because SPAM is a coined word used since the internet inception showing that email received is just simply something we do not wish to see anymore in our email inbox. However if we treat SPAM as something completely bad, unethical and even illegal how do we define it properly?
Proper definition for SPAM is UBE itself. To consider an email message to be SPAM it has to be both unsolicited (meaning you have never had a contact with the sender in any form offline or online) and it has to be send in bulk. To prove unsolicitaion it is easy however to prove bulk one need to find the exact same (or drop-dead simmilar on basis of the content) email message to the one being received. This in the end proves that such an email is received in a bad-faith to push interest to a product, service or to boost some website traffic.
We all know and are aware about various offline solicitation. Pamflets, letters on a home address, tele-marketing it is all conducted in the same direction – to boost sales or to spark interest. More aggressive solicitors are often being sued either individually or publicly. This is due to their shark-like business practices and the fact that solicitation is not something people are ready to accept. I am yet to hear about prison sentence for the people involved but I have heard about some hefty fines from the legal processing.
Online solicitation has less methods than offline solicitation. You can boost interest or sales by emailing, participating in the forums or social networks or by payed advertising. The most common solicitation online is email sending. This is not different to your old run-of-the-mill post where you receive offers for products or services. The same trashcan method is something you do with both offline and online mails. However the crucial difference is that you perhaps receive dozen mails in your post in a week where you can receive dozen emails in an hour online.
To fight SPAM/UBE there are numerous methods the most effective ones involve whitelisting and blacklisting either by domain name sending out emails or its IP address. The less effective ones are various filters which are filtering incoming email automatically upon receive. SPAM/UBE is a serious problem eating very large portion of the internet bandwidth and making user experience using internet less attractive. Also filtering itself involves unpredictable methods where there can be false positives (normal email you wish to receive) marked as SPAM. The problem enlarges when you include various email read application where you can just push SPAM button even unknowingly this in end effect reports both sender domain name and its IP to blacklist or deletes it from whitelist. Of course there is a threshold but managing normal email accounts are proven to be difficult especially if you maintain email list for your opt-in customers.
To conclude, there is no techical difference between SPAM and UBE. However SPAM is used more often for anything we do not wish to see or read thus making it catch-all term for trash messages we receive.
We at Vastus Domains maintain our own blacklist and once we receive an opt-out or complaint of sorts we are immediately acting upon it. It is difficult to maintain the proper sender status on all the blacklist email sites but we are managing to do so for months with our efforts.