Spam Fighting

For a long long time, I’ve had my main email address at I love as a system, and they’ve done a great job in a lot of arenas. Note the yeoman work that they have done to block the Swen worm. One area that I haven’t much liked them is their spam filtering. The burden of proof on email is such that most things are spam unless otherwise exonerated. During the move, I had altered it so that my address forwarded to one of my domains on the Rackshack box. I actually like the open source Horde webmail better than’s webmail, I have no mailbox limits there, etc. Now it turns out that there is a policy that will not allow any email forwarded to another address unless you turn their spam checking on. In fact, they went ahead and turned it on for everyone that forwards it.

My result may not be typical, but when I went in this morning, I had no e-mails in my inbox from overnight, and had 25 in my junk folder, 5 of which I actually wanted. Maybe it’s me, but a 20% false positive rate is too high. Caught as spam was a mailing from the Howard Dean campaign, a sales announcements from Handspring (which I subscribed to), and 3 job listing mails from When I saw the rules these triggered, they were awfully broad. The Dean one triggered a rule called “send a blank e-mail” – a phrase very common in legitimate mailing lists. A one was tagged for having a prohibited URL, one to a address! I love their newsgroups, I love the community, but I’m moving my mail away from there. My POPfile/SpamAssassin setup has had no false positives in the last 5 months, and under a 0.5% false negative rate. When it is more work reclaiming mail you want from the spam filters than it is getting rid of spam, it is time to do something else. I’ve got no problem with them blocking completely mails that match worm/virus signatures. However, when it comes to the textual analysis of my email, I’m doing better without them than with them. I can understand how perhaps a typical user would be better off with their spam filtering, but for my atypical usage pattern, I need it off. Since I can’t do that and forward it elsewhere, I sadly must decommission that account.

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Dave Slusher is a blogger, podcaster, computer programmer, author, science fiction fan and father.