Wednesday, October 6, 2004

Social cost of spam

Everyone complains about the direct costs of spam, like bandwidth, storage, lost time, etc.  Well, except the spammers themselves.

I haven't seen much on the social cost.

I believe it was a character in a Henlein book that complained "I wonder how much the accumulated idiots slow down society and social evolution".  How much does spam interfere with culture?

An example: There was a media report today of a museum's emails being blocked by aggressive spam filters. The museum has the unfortunate name of "Horniman Museum".

No doubt my blog will now be blocked for having mentioned that.

Spammers have been deliberately misspelling words to get around spam filters - we've all seen that. I get literally hundreds of spam a day, and devote a small amount of time to filtering and anotehr small amount of time to look into a few of the messages (purely to track the kinds of techniques their using - honest). I've been wryly amused at their perseverence and their creativy. But their idiocy is interfering with legitimate ad desireable cultural exchanges. It just isn't funny.

Not that I have a lot of patience for the filters, or filterers, either. Aggressive filters have problems with much simpler situations, like legitimate information on breast cancer, boys clubs, and so forth, that aggresive keyword matching may flag as too sensitive for broad public consumption.

[Comments from my previous blog]

1. a reader left...
Wednesday, 6 October 2004 12:17 pm
With respect to spam, i have to say to not noticing it as a problem anymore. I am using SpamAssassin with the Baynesian filter on and its working a treat. We have setup two folders in our IMAP server; _IsSpam and _IsNotSpam. When an email that comes in that has slipped through, we simply drag it to there so the filter can learn once every 2hrs what is a good/bad email.

Over a small period of time, you find your spam folder now catching more and more, and i can now proudly report that my 'Spam' folder catches around 350+ emails a day, with very little false +ve's. Those that are caught that shouldn't we simply drag out and put them in the '_IsNotSpam' folder. 

Having tried a lot of filter techniques, this is the only one that has worked every day.

2. glen martin left...
Wednesday, 6 October 2004 3:04 pm
I too use SpamAssassin, and it keeps spam down to a dull roar. And running SpamAssassin on my local server, I can check for false positives periodically.

But not everyone uses SpamAssassin. Some folks' email is filtered at the provider, eg, AOL. And even SpamAssassin can fall in the trap of "words spammers use", which can include some popular misspellings. Such as, I suppose, "Horniman."

3. a reader left...
Monday, 25 October 2004 3:44 pm
adult galleries
adult-galleries []

4. glen martin left...
Monday, 25 October 2004 4:01 pm
Oh dear, I'm hoping the above was a joke. How positively ironic.

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