I hate spam

technology, tips

More than 200 spams are sent to me DAILY. Yes, I’m not exaggerating.
Luckily, a bunch of ’em are stopped before they hit my inbox due to Brightmail filtering offered by my ISP (Earthlink) for free.

But that still leaves tons of spam hitting my inbox.

I was using a program called POPfile, which had an admirable 97-98% effectiveness with sorting my e-mail. Unfortunately, some of that 2-3% was painful, since I couldn’t ‘whitelist’ e-mail from my friends. In other words, there was no way to tell the software to automatically accept (and not mark as spam) e-mail from people in my Outlook addressbook.

So I ditched POPfile and I’ve been trying the embarrassingly aol’ishly named “ihatespam” program.

It’s $20, though free after rebate with amazon.com when you buy any version of Turbotax.

Here’s my take on the software so far:

POSITIVES:
– Easy install
– Is free after rebate when you buy it with any TurboTax product from Amazon.com (kindly do so via http://amazon.smilezone.com — thanks!)
– Integrates tightly with Outlook… no need to reconfigure POP stuff with proxy servers, etc.
– Offers “bounce” feature, whereby you can send a fake but convincing ‘bounce’ mail from your domain’s Postmaster, hopefully fooling some spammers into thinking your e-mail address is no longer valid.
– Can whitelist addresses from contact folders and e-mail folders.
– Strong support (I got a response just a couple of hours after e-mailing them).
– Decently configurable
– Free 30-day trial
– Can easily create own rules using functionality much more powerful than Outlook’s native rules wizard

NEGATIVES:
– Only works with Outlook and Outlook Express (and not even so well on the latter, apparently)
– Costs money ($20) if you don’t get it with TurboTax
– Some usability issues (too many clicks required for some tasks)
– Occasionally removed focus from e-mails I’m typing when it is handling incoming mails.
– Can’t see hard-coded rules ‘under the hood’
– Yearly ‘rules’ updates cost $15

The program has incorrectly flagged some of my e-mail newsletters, but — given the whitelist functionality — has not and apparently will not ever mark mail from my friends as spam, and that’s very important to me.

Hope this is helpful to those of you who are also deluged by spam.

5 comments… add one
  • Stan Krute Feb 12, 2003

    In POPFile, you set up magnets
    to whitelist your friends and
    family.

    There’s a new POPFile release
    if you care to try it again,
    version 018.

    Cheers,

    Stan Krute

  • Adam Feb 12, 2003

    Stan, heard about the new POPFile release, and apparently it’s a biggie!

    I may indeed give it a try down the road, but I must admit I’ve gotten spoiled by ihatespam.  Though it’s not as accurate in spotting spam, I do like its handy Bounce feature… its one-click blacklist or whitelist options… not to mention that it’s so much easier to simply click a “spam” or “not spam” button than to load up the POPFile web page, wait for stuff to load, recategorize mails, then go back to my mail client and delete them, etc.

    If the baysian intelligence of POPFile were available in a native Windows, perhaps even integrated with Outlook or Eudora or another major mailer, then I’d more quickly give POPFile another try.

  • Ergolad May 27, 2003

    How about SpamBully? Seems to integrate all that stuff you mentioned. I’m going to give it a go myself…

  • Ergolad Jun 8, 2003

    Tried it. Liked it somewhat. Not ready to fork over the $$ for it though. Another integration of baysian filtering working in tandem with POPFile is Outclass. Probably going to give that a go. Plus it’s free. Just not crazy about going through the retraining process. One nice thing about SpamBully was that it came pre-trained to a certain extent.

  • Adam Jun 9, 2003

    Yes, I’ve been using POPfile with Outclass for a few months now and have been EXTREMELY pleased!

    Now I do get a ton of mail, so I’m not your typical bear, but I was able to achieve >98% accuracy within 5 days.

    Unfortunately, one of the key problems with POPfile persists:  it still throws mails from my friends into my spam folder at least a couple of times a week :-(.  I really do wish POPfile had some integration with my Outlook addressbook, or at least let me mass-import a file of all my friends’ e-mail addresses so they could be whitelisted.

What do you think?