Email False Positives – My New Daily Tragedy

I’ve got 1995 emails after just a weekend, 75 of those made it through Mail, Apple’s default email program. 35 of those “not junk” emails are spam. I’ve been prompted in the past to make Junk mail automatically head to the junk folder, but I got too many false positives, incorrect marking of legitimate email as spam, to feel comfortable doing so. I don’t have time anymore, however, to continue to teach Mail what is good email. I’ve turned it on so I can move on with my life.

I can whine about the fact that I’m losing good email, be a studious developer, and implement the various server-side / client side methods that exist out there. I don’t, however, have time. Email is screwed; it’s built on a flawed platform of not verifying authenticity.

X gens on back to baby boomers wonder why us Y gens really don’t get all uppity about privacy issues, like blogging our personal lives, voluntarily installing spy ware, and handing over personal information on disparate websites. Yes, a few of us think the US government’s various privacy violations need to have multiple people be held accountable because they are wrong, but bottom line is the perception is different. One of the reasons is, we recognize the value of identity and the power it entails by knowing, for sure, another’s identify. Social networking systems abound that allow control over our relationships. It’s not so much retaining control of our data, but rather getting more control over our communications with others.

Email has no forced identify, and therefore, has no control. As such, it has slid far from my personal social network. Yes, I still get and read emails, but the time invested is getting less and less return. Many attempts have been made to off load the work to the sender by clicking those authorize email links in auto-responders. I’ll never click those as they themselves are spam messages and do not adapt to changing email addresses.

Instead, the move to a stronger identify has strengthened my network. For example, I now text a whole lot more than I did last year. I used to hear on the news and blogs that “kids” these days were textting, and thought email was something old people used. I thought textting was pretty dumb. Now, I use it all the time. Unlike my wife who gets copious amounts of incorrect text messages, I get text messages from people I know. I don’t get spam. You can’t send me a text message unless you know my phone number, which isn’t hard to get. For now, I have more control. I’ve gotten spammed twice in my life on IM. I have various identities on IM to ensure I have control over “how much presence” I truly am exposing. My phone numbers are still my #1 fave to communicate.

Textting, IM, and phone calls rock. Email sucks.

On the flip-side, I need to be accessible to potential new clients, friends & family, and other people asking me questions, hence I have 3 email addresses. I’ll let Mail’s junk filter, SpamSoap, and whatever Google uses handle the frontal assaults. While spam does get through, it is extremely manageable now, and 3 points of contact allows an easier time of communication.

While it is a shame I don’t have time to remove all false positives from my life, this is the world I live in and I need to move on. It’s email’s fault for not being built with spam control built into the protocol. Networking is one the pivotal things that helped me be successful. It is hard to walk the fine line how you communicate with those in your network to ensure relevance, and generally filter out the signal to noise ratio for both friends and business. I’d say this year email took the biggest hit in terms of relevance. My primary means of interacting with the world is via email, and I don’t see that changing any time soon. Yet today I just pressed “apply” on settings dialog that could negatively impact my life.

Drama Queen? Sure. Worried? Don’t have time. Email is very important to me and I have no choice but to put faith in the email that gets through being relevant.

9 Replies to “Email False Positives – My New Daily Tragedy”

  1. Cheer up, buddy. Your spam filter will get better AFTER you train it and mark the false positives.

    After messing around with Mail, Entourage (Mac’s version of Outlook) and the PC version of Outlook, Apple’s Mail has given me the least false positives. In 2006, I got a total of zero false positives. Zero.

    It’ll get better…

  2. It won’t now. In under an hour, I’ve already got 86 in my junk folder. I don’t have time to go through there and save the false positives. They are forever falsely charged, and will never be read by me. Mail will continue thinking they are criminals.

    Missed opportunities, thank you’s, and engagements… so sad…

  3. The reason email spam is so prevalent is the cost of sending an email (or a few hundred thousand) is next to nothing. This is why we don’t care if spammers get our physical address because it costs money to send snail-mail and I would say most spammers do not have the resources to do it.

    SMS is going to get much cheaper in the future, and SMS spam is going to be as prevalent as email spam. Unfortunately, changing your email address or email aliases are much easier than changing your phone number. Not sure if it happens already, but imagine spam phone calls, where a bot calls you and reads out a spam message.

    Unfortunately I don’t have the solution, although throwing away your computer, phone and PDA might finally rid you of spam :)

  4. I just change e-mail and I actually turn off the old e-mail so people get a ‘not delivered’ message back. Then I put the NEW e-mail on my website. I do this only when the spam has gotten to an unberable levle in my inbox. You might want to try, your problem is your e-mail is able to send you ANY aliase and some spam is just TEST aliases and stuff. you need to turn it all off and come up with a new e-mail on your website. only issue with that is ALL your past stuff you signed up for. good ness is with web panels you can always add them back and make them work again.

  5. I feel your pain. I used to have at least 800 spam messages a day. Two things worked for me. One will be useful to you and one probably won’t. The one that probably won’t is Cloudmark spam filter. I think it might be just for PC (sorry), but not only does it use an algorithm tofilter but also has a database of known spam marked by real humans. It works really well. The other thing that helped was switching hosting companies. We were previously using XO Commincations and it was terrible. They don’t filter anything. When we switched to EasyCGI my spam went down to about 30 a day (and those were caught by Cloudmark). Just thought I’d chime in, cause I so know your pain.

  6. I use Google Mail to filter through my spam. So far, so good. I haven’t seen any false positives yet, and once in a while a single negative gets through (I’d say once every 14 hours).

    What you do is the following. Signup for a Google Mail account. Setup a private email box that can’t be guessed. Setup Google Mail to forward and archive all mail to this private email box. Setup all your original addresses to forward to your Google Mail address.

    Works for me, and it could work for you.

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