97% Of All Email Is Spam, But How Much Of The Other 3% Is Just Noise?

from the overwhelmed dept

A new report from Microsoft says that 97 percent of all email is spam, reflecting the degree to which email systems worldwide are swamped with the messages. The figure seems high, but perhaps that's just because anti-spam tools have gotten better at deflecting spam away from most people's inboxes. But clearly enough is still getting through -- and enough people are buying what it's selling -- to make it financially worthwhile for spammers. Personally, I don't see too much spam these days, as Gmail's filter works pretty well for me. But what I do see lots of is "soft" spam -- messages that come from web services, retailers, mailing lists and thanks to writing on the web, PR people. Most of these messages come from things with which I've had some sort of relationship, commercial or otherwise, in the past, but most of them are still uninteresting and unwanted. While many of these people are pretty good about honoring unsubscribe requests, many are not, and also seem to share my email address with impunity. The result is that my email account is full of noise -- while my inbox isn't overrun by V1*GRA-type spam, all the other soft spam, as well as the bacn, or messages I've subscribed to but never read, obfuscate the messages I actually care about, making email a pain to deal with.

The point here isn't really to complain about my inbox, but rather to illustrate how even as "real" spam becomes more and more hidden from many users, email still has plenty of problems. Eliminating the 419 scams, joe-jobs, fake drug spam and the like would certainly be great, but even beyond that, email still has its flaws, leading people to communicate through IM, social networks and other means. To be sure, email is still eminently useful, but will that usefulness soon be outweighed by its detriments? And will it be salvageable?


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    TheStuipdOne, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 3:34pm

    My Inbox

    since I got my gmail account ... 2068 email mesages in the inbox
    currently 1592 messages in the spam quarantine
    many hundreds or thousands labeled, marked as read, and told to bypass the inbox. These I have a moderate interest in reading and do sometimes, or don't and just don't want to unsubscribe.

     

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    Weird Harold, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:12pm

    Oddly, I get plenty of valid email every day. More than 4000 valid items in the last 12 months that i have retained, and probably that many more again that I read and discarded.

    Most "end users" I know of don't have much use for email anymore, most prefer to use message systems within sites like facebook for longer communications, and various IM systems for shorter messages. It seems that most people under 25 don't have the attention spans to write a full paragraph, unless they are forced to for a paper for class. Otherwise, the twitter 140 characters is all many of them need.

    That is perhaps another point to. The internet use to be about communications. Now it's about self-broadcasting, which is pretty easy to tune out.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:11pm

      Re: valid items

      My situation is the opposite. I get 3 to 10 valid email messages a day and more than 4000 spam.

       

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    I get no spam, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:34pm

    You will be surprised, but I get ZERO spam. Nothing. Nada!

    Little trick: I own my own email DOMAIN. (.name)

    So every time I need to give some e-tailer my email address, I create a PERSONALIZED address for that e-tailer: "_@.name".

    In case I get unwanted spam there, at the very second I kill that address. Spam all you want. :-b

    Added bonus: I always know who exactly sold my email to spammers...

     

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    I get no spam, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:36pm

    Sorry, it ate special characters...

    You will be surprised, but I get ZERO spam. Nothing. Nada!

    Little trick: I own my own email DOMAIN. ([my_name].name)

    So every time I need to give some e-tailer my email address, I create a PERSONALIZED address for that e-tailer: "[etailer_name]_[random_number]@[my_name].name".

    In case I get unwanted spam there, at the very second I kill that address. Spam all you want. :-b

    Added bonus: I always know who exactly sold my email to spammers...

     

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      Chunky Vomit, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 6:43pm

      Re: Sorry, it ate special characters...

      I do this for my personal email - works great! For business accounts I use SpamSoap.com.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:41pm

    Bah

    I wonder if sponsor of spam research report can recommend has an expensive solution to remedy this problem?

    Oh, don't keep us waiting!

     

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    MattKatz, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:51pm

    I get no spam as well

    Ditto to IGetNoSpam.
    It's the way to go that works.

    On the other hand, I don't really get spam at my gmail either.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:56pm

    Consider the Source

    Of course MicroSoft has no axe to grind here. There is no way this is another of many cheesy attempts at selling product. They would never do such a thing.

     

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    Sam, Apr 9th, 2009 @ 4:58pm

    Google does a good job.

    I'm in agreement with others here that Google does a great job filtering spam.

    Recently, I sold something on craigslist, and almost immediately started getting monster amounts of spam in my spam folder. I'm pretty sure it was when I responded to a phisher's very terse inquiry.

    After that, I setup a separate GMail account specifically for Craigslist... But their filter is amazing.

     

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    Leigh (profile), Apr 9th, 2009 @ 5:36pm

    I let google archive all my soft-spam newsletters and such. Then once in awhile if I'm researching something, I try a search on my complete Gmail arcive and see if anything unexpected turns up.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 7:32am

    I would definitely believe these figures. I work for a small rural ISP and we provide email for our users. I forgot the exact numbers, but our admin said that in one day we blocked over 100,000 spam emails and only allowed around 5,000 legit emails through and I'm sure some of those were still spam. It's just insane the amount of spam that people get.

     

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    Thamios, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 3:31pm

    Email will always be useful

    No matter what comes around (Short of an upgraded version of Email), the traditional Email system will always be useful for something. I myself use it as a way to keep in contact with friends/family that I'm usually not able to contact by other methods (EX: Phone, IM, etc).

    Usually that's because they're in a time zone which limits me calling them, or we both have weird work schedules that prevent us from talking (Like I wanna call someone at 1 AM just to hope they're up and not working).

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 6:03pm

    Spam

     

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    Gene Cavanaugh, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 6:08pm

    Spam

    I checked not too long ago, out of curiousity, and I get a spam message about every six minutes, 24/7. Of these, only about three to five (average) per week get through the spam filter. I get about 20-30 valid emails a day; so let's say that spam is 240 messages a day, and valid email is 20 per day - that is about 92 percent spam.
    If everyone else is getting 95 percent, that leads to the question; why am I not getting my fair share?

     

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    dave, Apr 10th, 2009 @ 9:34pm

    It's fairly easy to setup your own email domain, even from your own computer. You'll need a machine that is on 24/7, a dynamic DNS service (dyndns.org) and updater, and email server software.

    Sign up for a free dyndns account, install ubuntu, setup postfix, dovecot, and the dyndns client.

     

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    Jim James, Apr 11th, 2009 @ 8:39pm

    Thats all??

    I thought 99.9% of email was SPAM?

    RT
    www.web-privacy.us.tc

     

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    Glen, Apr 12th, 2009 @ 6:14am

    E-mail-What part of the other 3% is noise?

    After you get past the spam, around 2/3 of the mailbox is going to be noise.
    around 1% actually merits a response of any kind. That includes phone calls And IMs!
    Around .01% merits forwarding.
    Less than that should be cc'd and you should never use bcc!

     

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    Czarina Cleopatra, Apr 12th, 2009 @ 7:59am

    5000+ Spam mails!

    In my yahoo mail, 99.9% of my emails is Spam. All are junk ads. Grrr...

     

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    forex signals, Sep 17th, 2010 @ 11:55am

    the most accurate spam filter is the one google has. I used to have email with hotmail but it filters a great portion of good emails

     

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    asd, Oct 25th, 2013 @ 5:01am

    asd

    asd

     

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