Posted 07-16-2003

Why do they call it spam?

What can YOU do about SPAM! <Revised 12/5/05

Unsolicited email messages, otherwise known as "spam," have become such a world wide problem that some experts predict it could render email useless in less than a decade.  Some estimates claim that over 50 percent of all Internet email traffic today is spam!  That translates into a lot of wasted time, productivity and network resources.  Spam would be easy to cope with and eliminate if the senders of spam simply identified their message as spam.  Then email server software could easily filter and trash the unwanted messages.  However, that’s about as likely as the other type of Spam appearing on the menu in a gourmet restaurant!

Without a foolproof way of identifying spam, automated spam filters run the risk of deleting important email messages.  An alternate method of filtering spam will route all suspected spam messages to a single person in an organization to either delete or re-route to the original recipient. Few have the time to deal with the volume of email that will soon be coming their way once they volunteer to be a human spam filter!

A recent upgrade to our Imail email server software included a spam filter that we plan to begin using this afternoon.  We can configure the sensitivity of the software filter in various ways and intend to set it up to maximize the accuracy of spam identification and to reduce the amount of human intervention required to identify spam.  That means the filter will be set so we’re confident there will be no false spam identifications.  Therefore, all email messages it identifies as spam will be automatically deleted without the need for human intervention.  It also means that many messages that might be considered spam will be delivered.  Adding to the problem is the reality that an email message considered as spam to one person may be a desirable message to another (remember some people like the canned version of Spam!).  Therefore, the recipient can simply delete the spam that makes it through the filter as they have done in the past.  In the future we may decide to have the recipient forward unfiltered spam messages to a special spam email address to be used to adjust the spam filter.

If you’re interested in learning about our spam filter settings, read on; otherwise, sit back and enjoy a reduced spam email experience.  For now, you don’t have to do a thing other than delete the spam that does make it through the filter.  One important note…only those with Imail accounts will have their email messages filtered for spam and computer viruses.  If you don’t have an Imail account yet, look for a bulletin in a week or so telling you how to get one.

Never reply to spam.  If you do, you'll only get more.

The Imail spam filter will automatically delete email messages that:

are sent from known spammers (whose names are on a "black list")

have invalid FROM: addresses   [eliminated due to too many false positives for spam]

contain common words found in the many spam messages (such as viagra).

To increase email server performance, email messages will not be passed through the spam filter if they originate from known email sources on a "white list" such as District email accounts, as well as OCDE and CDE accounts.

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