Even Spam Has A Use

If you want proof that every cloud has a silver lining, consider the use I have found for spam. I am now getting 2000+ spams per day, which is a major problem. But the good news is that when several hours go by and I have received no spam, I know my email is down again.

(Although it is up as I write this, back home and jet-lagged, my mail went down for hours at a time repeatedly while I was away.)

Incidentally, I have been forwarding all my mail to a gmail account in order to test its spam filtering capabilities. I have detected almost no false flagging of spam since the second day of use, which either shows gmail is doing something right, or my ability to scan spam for the real mail is withering as the quantity of spam increases and the real/fake ratio shrinks. Of the 2000+ spams I get, though, gmail is treating dozens a day as real mail. In other words, the false positive rate is better than the filters I wrote myself, but the 'failure to block rate' is about the same. I let through everything purporting to be from a UM account, which accounts for about half the spam I don't filter. I haven't figured out why gmail lets in what it does.

Removing spam via Gmail is still less annoying than on PINE, as you can easily mark many at a time for deletion from your inbox by clicking checkboxes. But I predict it will get harder to identify the spam once spammers adapt to gmail's showing you the first few words of text in list mode, and start putting more plausible text there.

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3 Responses to Even Spam Has A Use

  1. Greg says:

    If UM sysadmins aren’t able/willing to provide you with most updated version of perl, why not reroute your mail through a box of your own for the sole purpose of filtering out spam? Ya, sounds like overkill, but as you’ve said, over 2000+ pieces of spam is pretty horrendous.

  2. Michael says:

    I suppose I could have mail go UM –> my box –> UM. Or even UM –> my box and read it off my box. The problems are that this adds complexity, and means there are now twice as many machines that may go down. While I like the company that hosts this blog, and its super-low prices, I can live with the blog going down, as it does from time to time. I go ballistic when my email is down, and don’t want that much downtime much less that PLUS UM’s.

    The solution is probably to open up an email only account at a rock-hard commercial server like pair.com, but that’s more bucks and setup time and host one of my domains there, probably froomkin.com. Then I have to tell everyone about my new address, change business cards, mailing list subscriptions, etc etc…

  3. kim says:

    I like spam…send me some 🙂

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