Spam, Anti-Spam, and Email
Once again, I am trying a new Spam Filter. Ever hopeful, I keep searching for a holy grail that will keep out stuff I don't want without eliminating the email I'm waiting for.
So far, it hasn't worked very well.
- Several products have refused to work at all or have worked badly
- Two products froze my computer and in spite of the very willing efforts of the companies' developers never got sorted out. We assume it's an interaction between their software and something on my machine — but, as you imagine, I've got a lot of software on my machine and I'm not going to take it off one package at a time.
- A lot of products require that the people who want to send me mail (or receive my mail) do something. I don't think I have the right to ask for that. Moreover, I'm sure some of them just wouldn't bother (or would be away from their computers and miss the message).
- These challenge systems (see above) are designed to screen out computer generated mail. That includes the spammers, but it also includes the 100 or so electronically managed newsletters and lists I'm subscribed to. I don't want to loose them.
- When I find something that works, it often slows me down so much, taking it through its routine, that just deleting the spam is faster.
But you probably know all that, because you've been going through this, too. And we can't just do nothing because it keeps getting worse.
So here's what I think:
(1) We have to keep looking for the best filter we can find and put up with. Currently, for me, that's a New Zealand product called Mailwasher. It's free. If you like it you can register for $20 or buy a professional versin of the program for a bit more. It looks at the mail while it's still up at your ISP. You delete and/or blacklist anything you don't want (you can preview it if you're not sure what it is. Over time, you can mark mail from known correspondents as Friend and just skip over them. When you've finished processing what's in your mailbox you hit a process button and it deletes everything you don't want. You then download the rest to your email client (in my case, Outlook). Since you're not downloading most of the mail (only about 20-25% in my case, it's much faster than before.
(2) Let's get the government on our side. I want the same opt-out protection for email that we have for telemarketing. And I want it for my business mail, not just for personal email (I get them both at the same place anyway — and these clowns don't differentiate — I doubt that they think they're sending me business information when they offer to lengthen non-existent parts of my anatomy or a a new mortgage or diet plan).
I send out a newsletter every week. It goes to people who have (1) signed up for it and (2) have confirmed that they want it. We also tell them how to un-subscribe in every issue. I don't want to loose the ability to use email for that kind of communication because a bunch of opportunistic, greedy clowns think email is a free good (it isn't, they just don't pay for it), and want to play the very long odds, sending out millions of unwanted messages a day to collect a few orders.
If email is important and valuable (IT IS) then we have to stand up and fight for it before its usefulness it obliterated. [amywohl News]