08 August 2007

Don't ignore SPAM

I have just come back from a few days holiday and was welcomed on my return by 1783 messages in my SPAM inbox totalling 12.2 Mb. It would be easy to delete it all without reviewing it, but I thought I would take a few minutes to see if there was anything valuable there.

Of the total, only one message shouldn't have been listed as SPAM (a false positive) so that means that the filters are working pretty accurately, but I still get quite a lot of false negatives in my normal inbox (messages which are cleared as good but which are still SPAM).

The point of the post is that SPAM is a problem because it can bury normal mail.

One of the organisations I have been working with recently has a website which allows its customers to complete transactions online. Once the transaction is completed on the webpage, the transaction is sent to the organisation's main email address and is processed as soon as the office opens. That has proved to be popular with some of its customers and the number of transactions processed in this way has been growing rapidly. However, on examining their SPAM inbox they found that a number of the transactions emailed to them from their own website had been categorised as SPAM (a false positive problem). What makes it more difficult is that their problem is subtle - there doesn't seem to be a clear distinction between the transactions which correctly find their way to the inbox and those which have been declared as SPAM.

So, don't ignore your SPAM inbox - there may well be something in there which is valuable to you.

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