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SpamAssasin - The E-mail Netiquette Maker

I think Joel missed the point. He made one logical step, but not too. First of all, security by obscurity does not work. And poor
specifications are also a very bad idea.

But I think there's more to it: The SpamAssassin guys know they'll have to improve their rules all the time, perhaps even forever. But you can think of SpamAssassin as an E-mail Validator. It does not prohibit mass sending of it, but rather makes sure it passes certain criteria.

Now, the common spammer will have to pass his spam mail several times through SpamAssasin to get it right. Eventually, most of them won't bother, and send non SA-compliant E-mail. Now, those who remain will think hard about whether to send it and if so, how to make it as un-spammy as possible.

Imagine you receive this message: (a real situation I do not intend to send it)

<<<
Hi!

My name is Shlomi Fish and I would like to announce Freecell
Pro Solver Evaluation Edition which summarizes a year long effort by Adrian Ettlinger and others. FYI, this E-mail has been sent to many addresses, yet  I will not send another message.

Freecell Pro is an implementation of Freecell that is fully
compatible with the Microsoft bundled version, but  has many other powerful features. The Solver Evaluation
Edition implements support for three of the most powerful
solvers available in the marketplace (while still being free
and open-source):

The improved Don Woods solver - slightly inaccurate, moderately speedy.
"Freecell Solver" by Shlomi Fish - the fastest yet may report
false negatives.
Patsolve by Tom Holroyd - completely accurate while still
very fast and has near optimal solutions as far as length is concerned.

Freecell Pro is available for free download at: (url)
Its source code is available upon request under the terms
of the GNU General Public License. Freecell Pro was verified
to run on Windows 95/98/ME/NT/2000/XP.

I hope this E-mail may have been of use to you.

Regards,

          Shlomi Fish

E-mail: shlomif@vipe.technion.ac.il
Homepage: http://t2.technion.ac.il/~shlomif/
4 Hakim St. 64192
Tel Aviv, Israel

FYI: Freecell Pro was re-implemented
from scratch, and is not derived from Microsoft Freecell in any way.
>>>

Technically it is still spam. But it is high quality spam, that may appeal to a large part of the E-mail addresses it is sent to. I seen rather useful spam in my days (only I could not read it because it was in Hebrew), and while I received some updates, they eventually stopped sending me.

Spam is annoying but so is real-life junk mail. But most of junk mail I receive is from small commercial entities, and I don't mind receiving it. Sometimes I hang it on the refrigirator door (fast food...), and usually I throw it away. But I don't mind receiving it.

I don't think there is an alternative to tinkering with the rules yourself. Or borrowing something that someone prepared for himself. (I know someone who has a 64K-long procmailrc file, procmail being the common filtering methodology on UNIX). But SpamAssassin is a _good idea_, and publishing its specs may seem a bad decision, but is strategically briliant.

And of course, you need to have a good script to download the up-to-date version.

Shlomi Fish
Thursday, August 01, 2002

Junk mail hasn't rendered my mail-box useless. But spam has totally crippled my email accounts.

pb
Thursday, August 01, 2002

Spam Filters are a good idea, and even a necessity these days, but they aren't perfect. SpamAssasin seems better than most (I'm currently trying to figure out if I can make it work on my hosts server).

Spare a thought for legitimate operaters of opt-in email newsletters:

http://www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2002/0729netbuzz.html

James

James Shields
Friday, August 02, 2002

My own filters run something like...


Bar on server mail domains that only generate junk. (last resort)
Junk Filter which is manually added to (not that effective)
Filter on known mail and senders (stuff I actually want)
Filter  remaining mail from free webmails (99% junk)
Filter remaining mail with ! in body (99% junk)
Filter on key words I'll never want email on (mortgage, penis size, etc)

Simon Lucy
Saturday, August 03, 2002

My ISP uses SpamGuard, and it's pretty effective. I get around 5-10 spams a day,
and the filter stops around 99% of them.
The tests aren't published, and you've got a much lower level of control, but so far I'm pretty pleased. We'll see how it works when I'm getting hundreds a day.

Just as important, a couple of new friends who I'd lost touch with found me out, and
the filter let them through. Possibly because the are not addicted to exclaimation marks and rarely use the word Viagra.

David Clayworth
Wednesday, August 07, 2002

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