August 9, 2007
Spam Filter and False Positive Reality Check
For a variety of reasons, we had to take our spam filter offline for a day or two here, so I am getting a good look at what raw, unfiltered email traffic looks like. It’s not pretty. I have two main observations:
– Spam filters are getting pretty good at eliminating false negatives (e.g., catching real spam). There’s a virtual tidal wave in my inbox of crap that I never see. I have multiple, very old, very public email addresses feeding the same inbox, so I am probably seeing more than most, but wow. Spam is a far worse problem on networks than it is in actual inboxes
– Spam filters are still generating a decent amount of false positives (e.g., filtering out things that aren’t spam). I have so much email — and so much filtered email — that I have stopped looking through my Spam Folder in good detail. It just takes too long. But what I am discovering in my unfiltered world today is a bunch of newsletters (both content and marketing) that are making it to my inbox for the first time in months, maybe years. And I am having that reaction of "oh yeah, I did wonder what happened to that…"
Conclusion: world of filtering still very much a work in progress.