Spam: No More Excuses

Are you somewhat technically inclined? Do you use Outlook (2000 or newer) or run a Linux mail server? Good. Do you complain about spam? If so, after reading this article, you’ll have to shut your pie-hole about the spam problem, because it’ll be your fault if you still see it.

There is a new way to fight spam called Bayesian filtering. It was invented by some genius named Paul Graham. That’s not important, though. What is important is that it’s ridiculously effective, as it learns the difference between spam (junk mail) and ham (stuff you want to read), based your input.

This has been around for a while, and I have it installed on my personal SquirrelMail web server. Fortunately, I don’t get much spam there, anyway. I have started getting more at home, however, despite my best efforts. In general, I give my home email only to friends and family, and my web email to businesses and web sites. This has kept the large majority of spam out of my inbox. I also make sure I never sign up for newsletters of any sort, especially if the words “third party” are involved. I advise most people take these precautions.

Nevertheless, some spam is getting through, probably because of my Outlook preview pane. What happens here is that spammers send you email in HTML format, with embedded URLs that look like:

This identifies you to the spammer and tells them, “We found a sucker! The email address is valid! Send more crap!” And then you’re hosed. So never actually look at spam if you can help it. Just disable the preview pane if you need to delete any questionable email.

But getting back on track, I have found a Bayesian spam filter that works for Outlook! And it’s free! I don’t know what we did to deserve this, but it’s awesome. You can find it here:

To prepare, create a folder named spam, and put your spam into it. Then make sure there is no spam in your Inbox. After you run the simple installer and restart Outlook, it will ask for your spam and ham folders and train it. I had been keeping my spam in case I decided to go postal on them some day, but if you’re not so vindictive, you may need to start collecting it. One possibility is to go through your Deleted folder and move the spam into a separate folder. Remember, you don’t want to mix in any good emails, or look directly at the spam.

I have to admit, my filter doesn’t get a good workout due to the precautions I’ve taken. In fact, I haven’t received any spam since I installed it. So please feel free to comment with your experiences. Good luck!