How I Deal With Spam


The struggle is real. Spam is here to stay, but filters have evolved a lot in the last decade and today automatically deleting 99% (or even more) of all spam you get is not a dream, but a feasible achievement.

I am a user of Gmail, which is a great mailing system. It gives more than enough storage space, is very popular - what makes various applications know how to talk with it -, and even allows for several different options of mail viewing and filtering. There are some reported privacy issues, though, and although I care very highly for my privacy - and the privacy of those that talk with me -, I do not think I would be better off with my own mail server. And the risk of those new trendy encrypted mailing systems going out from night to day keeps me away from them.

If I ever need complete safe mail transfer, I’d just encrypt the message, attach it and then send it through, I would have to tell the receiver the encryption key somehow, though. Maybe I’d write the message and encrypt it in a fresh install of a Linux distribution that never touched the Internet. I may elaborate more on this plan in the future.

Now, back to the point and being very specific to Gmail, what is considered spam by the Google mail service?

For your own account, Gmail learns to always mark as spam senders that you’ve reported spam on. Likewise, it learns to not mark as spam senders that you’ve reported not spam on.

- Dan Fingal-Surma

Simple enough, uh? You can only get spam from an address until you report it as spam.

There is also a machine learning network that collects all these manual spam reports and makes filters for them, so spam that is reported by a few users will never make it to the inbox of many others.

From the same engineer,

Now, if you’re the one of the unlucky first few receiving mail from a spam campaign we know nothing about yet, spam may slip in.

This justifies those few email messages that always manage to go through the filters. But this is a very small price to pay for the convenience of email.

Last but not least, my very nice habit of using mailtos to my own address everywhere does not help much to keep it away from spam senders. And allowing and similar web services to show my email address publicly is not helping at all either, but I want it to be easily accessible to make communication with my readers and collaborators as easy as possible. At the end of the day, dealing with spam is so simple that it goes almost unnoticed.