Monthly Archives: November 2010

October Newsletter – Searching for the Perfect Spam Filter – October Newsletter


The Search for the Perfect Spam Filter

The ideal spam filter should be able to block all spam period. Unfortunately we don’t live in a perfect world and so some amount of spam will usually make it’s way into our inboxes. Fighting spam is a perpetual exercise which sees spam filters continually updated to detect and automatically mark messages as spam. On top of the automated filters most systems require human responses from their users. Some may ask why the human response is needed? The human influence is critical, if a spam message is marked incorrectly as clean or even worse if it was a false positive, meaning it was marked as spam but was not, it can be flagged by the end user for review by the automatic filters.

The ‘Mark as Spam or Junk’ button is such an important piece of anti-spam technology. However, this button comes with quite a bit of power and marking or unmarking messages as spam should not be taken lightly.

Marking Messages as Spam

Marking messages as spam is a great feature that helps train automatic systems to flag messages as spam. Note that just because you mark a message as spam it does not add the sender to a Blacklist or anything like that, it just flags the system to review the message.

Unfortunately most of the time the message is not spam but in fact a legitimate mailing or message that was requested by the end user. The correct method for newsletters or bulk mailing that you do not want to receive is to use the “Unsubscribe Button” at the bottom of the email.

It is important to also note that marking Newsletters and other Bulk Mailing services as spam is very detrimental. While some think that it is a good idea to mark a Newsletter that they dislike as spam, it is eventually costing that company lots of money to resolve the issue. For companies that are utilizing proper mailing techniques such as double Opt in procedures where you have to confirm you want the mailing, it is very frustrating for the messages to be then marked as spam.

Correcting False Positives

It is worth repeating that no spam filter is perfect, there are times when a legitimate message will be marked as spam. To correct this, simply check your Junk Folder often and select the message and use your email clients function to mark the message as “Not Spam”.  This may include messages from the services that you have subscribed to, all the system needs is a little tuning to what you do want to receive.

Most spam filters are smart enough to “learn” as you mark messages but most have a long learning period in place. This is intentional and means that when you mark a message as Not Spam, the system makes a note but doesn’t make immediate changes to the filters. If the system were to obey our every whim as users, things could get out of hand very quickly as everyone has different opinions as to what is legitimate mail.

In the End

Realizing how spam filters work and how you can help or hinder the process will go a long way in the end. Your messages will get to their recipients and you will receive the mail you want to get. Working the system or using the system to disadvantage others happens, but with education hopefully those practices will cease and everyone will be happy with the email they get.

September Newsletter
Back to Spam

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