By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

A blizzard of spam

I’m not sure why, but the ratio of spam to legitimate e-mails has tilted into the insane zone in the past couple of weeks. I’m trying SpamSieve, but I’m dubious: I still have to sit in front of my iBook and watch all that worthless e-mail come in; and then I still have to look at everything to make sure that the program didn’t improperly label a good e-mail as spam. How does that help?

Are any of you using a spam-blocker that you actually like? It seems to me that a server-based solution would be best. I’m also intrigued by those occasional messages I receive from people saying that my e-mail won’t go through unless I take an additional step. I realize it’s a burden to people trying to reach me, but this is getting ridiculous.

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  1. mike_b1

    Believe it or not, Yahoo does an excellent job of weeding the spam from the good emails. In five plus years I’ve had exactly one good email get directed into the Spam inbox. My corporate email systems is nowhere near as good.

  2. MeTheSheeple

    K9 from always worked well for me … on a PC.Some mail clients (e.g., Mozilla Thunderbird) come with a built-in spam filter, but you probably don’t want to has a list that might help. It looks like your SpamSieve is in there. It’s a list of Bayesian spam filters, which means they learn. Once you get your spam filter “trained,” it’ll become much more accurate. Bear with it for a week or two.

  3. Anonymous

    This doesn’t address the problem of rescuing an established email address, but for creating a new one, I’ve been very impressed with Gmail (Google’s) spam filtering.

  4. Wes

    Second mike above, Yahoo does it well. Don’t know who is your provider, but Verizon keeps my mail pretty clean, and I use the McAfee pkg on board.

  5. Dan Kennedy

    Sheeple — The problem is that, no matter how good SpamSieve gets, I’m not going to be relieved of the responsibility to go through the “Junk” folder and at least scan every header. And everything still downloads. I’m intrigued by the idea of using Yahoo or Google and having it forward to my accounts. Then I could go on the Web once a day or so and see whether anything got toasted that shouldn’t have.

  6. Anonymous

    The only way around that would be whitelisting or something, but then you’d have to deal with the intro work of setting up your trusted folks.You can set up things with Eudora so that users in your address book can go right in but with your job, I would imagine you get a good number of garbage. (I had to deal with the legion of spam when I was at Bay Windows and for obvious reasons the address couldn’t change.) The best I could was let the Eudora spam rules make it slightly easier.Good luck.

  7. Anonymous

    Dan, Google works well as you describe above. Its default behavior is to delete items from your junk folder when they’re 30 days old, and they claim to give you unlimited disk space. Nice interface, too.

  8. bostonph

    My ISP has an option to force people to register in order to send mail to me. I’ve been playing with it on my main account and it seems to work very well. It won’t work with addresses you give to bank sites, etc. though.Hawkwings likes JunkMatcher. You’d still have to check for false positives during the training period.SpamFire also looks interesting.

  9. Leslie

    Google mail (g-mail) is the best I’ve seen or used. I use a g-mail address and forward it to my POP 3 regular e-mail.

  10. Anonymous

    Two thoughts I can offer…SpamBlox by Earthlink…the thing that makes people take that “extra step” of assuring you that the email is sent by a living breathing person. I don’t know if anyone but Earthlink offers this service… Its great for your personal/private email! (And people only have to do that “extra step” once, after that, all there email goes thru.)If you have your own domain, and get your email thru the host of that domain….they usually offer a spam filter that is adjustable. You can intensify the setting, until it starts catching legitimate email…then back it off a bit.If you post your email address on the web anywhere (and you do!), it will get collected by spam address harvesting spiders that troll the web looking for email addys.You might want to only post it as dkennedy (at) You might think about altering your email address slightly…and “begin again”. Keep a super secret email just for family, friends and colleagues. (You might even set that account to only recieve email from people in your address book, since family and freinds is a somewhat finite bunch.A couple of people have yahoo mail and hot mail accounts and use a _ in the middle…as in that slows down the alphabetical spammers that basically use a dictionary to send mail to any and every work in the dictionary….they spiders don’t *get* _.Just my thoughts…

  11. Mike from Norwell

    I’ll vouch for Yahoo also. I ended up paying them the $20 a year for the premium e-mail service, and the junk mail filtering seems to work very well. I use Mozilla Thunderbird for e-mail, and set up the web-based Yahoo Mail to not download the junk mail to my POP account. This seems to be the best option as I can periodically use the Web email to peruse the junk mail, and my Thunderbird account doesn’t get deluged.One other thing for those using their ISP’s e-mail rather than Google or Yahoo; what happens when you decide to switch your ISP? For anyone who has been a Comcast customer for the last few years, remember how your e-mail address went from, to, and now to I’d suggest using either Google or Yahoo so you have a little more flexibility in life.

  12. Dan Kennedy

    The advice I’m getting here is great. I have an additional question. I’m intrigued with the notion of having my POP mail forward to Google or Yahoo to take advantage of an online spam filter. But am I then stuck with reading all my e-mail on the Web? There’s really no way to pull it into Entourage at that point, is there? Thank you.

  13. bostonph

    Sure – there are a couple of gateways (MacFreePops & Mail Forward) which will pull your Yahoo and GMail down to your Mac. There are reviews of both here: suggestion to use a second address for public posting and commercial sites is a good one.

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