If you are not very annoyed by spam, you are now in the minority, according to the results of a U.S.-based online poll.

About 80 per cent of online Americans surveyed in the recent poll by market research company Harris Interactive Inc. said they find unsolicited bulk e-mail “very annoying.” That percentage was up from just 49 per cent in 2000.

The growing number of unwanted messages that end up in inboxes has created a backlash: 74 per cent of those polled favoured making spam illegal, according to the survey. Just 12 per cent said they oppose making mass-mailing a crime.

The Harris Poll surveyed 2,221 people over the age of 18 between Nov. 22 and Dec. 2, 2002.

Respondents said the most annoying bulk e-mail messages are those selling pornography, followed by mortgages and loans, investments and real estate. The results match those from a similar survey by e-mail filtering software maker Brightmail Inc., which released in December its top 10 list of unwanted types of e-mail.

Other categories in the Harris Poll drew fewer complaints than in previous years, such as the length of time it takes to find a particular Web site and the length of time it takes for a Web site to appear in a browser. Researchers attributed this to faster connections to the Web and the “increased sophistication” of Internet users.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada