What is a spam?
Spamming is the posting of massive numbers of duplicate articles on Usenet. Spams don't have to be commercial, they don't even have to be unrelated to the discussion topic... but they usually are. A commercial posting that's not really on topic probably is posted to a big number of other newsgroups/mailing lists too, so any not Kate-related commercial posting is probably a spam.
Someone selling a few Kate Bush records is definitely not a spam. A professional record dealer selling more than a few records is also not a spam. (Nevertheless both should avoid posting long sales list to the group. Instead post an announcement that you've got stuff to sell and will send the list to interested people.)). Remember that even if you don't like commercial postings at all, some of us like those that are Kate-related.
A 'student' praising magazine subscriptions most definitely is a spam.
Unfortunately, spamming is not illegal. And if it was illegal in one country it doesn't have to be illegal world-wide.
What to do about spam postings?
- Write to the relevant postmasters (politely, they're likely to have hundreds if not thousands of similar mails), possibly including the complete spam posting including *all* headers (esp. "Received:" lines). If writing to firstname.lastname@example.org doesn't help, you can check the chain of postmasters in the "Received:" headers, or you can find out the domain servers of the spammer's site by entering the spammer's domain (e.g. "spammer.com") on http://www.internic.net/wp/whois.html and complain at the "postmaster" at that site (this assumes the spammer's domain isn't completely faked).
- Do not mailbomb the originator. Most of the times, the addresses are faked, that is, the only one not having trouble with the mail bomb is the spammer himself.
- Do not write to love-hounds/rec.music.gaffa, we all know it as well as you do.
- With repeated spams, check out with the maintainers of our moderator software. They might be able to do something about it.
- Most important: do not call/write/ask/whatever the originator about whatever he wants to offer to you. That's what he wants to achieve, and that might be what's paying him (addresses = information = money). You can complain if you know who he is, but please: do not play into his hands.
See also the net-abuse newsgroups (news.admin.net-abuse.misc etc.). Lots of the information here is from [DB]. P.S.: to be a bit more PC: spammers could be female as well... On to a more friendly subject: