ISP Hesitate Over Spam Filtering

from the those-darn-false-positives dept

As the spam battle wages on, most of the focus is on end-users and law enforcement. Not too many people seem to focus on the role of ISPs, who sometimes do take a more proactive role in stopping spam. The problem, though, is that when the ISP filters spam, they often run into issues with false positives. If the filters are too loose (to avoid false positives) then too much spam gets through, and users are upset. If the filters are too tight, important messages go missing, and users are upset. Many ISPs are realizing, at the very least, they need to let the end-user have access to the spam folder, so they can occasionally sort through it for false positives – but very few users ever bother to look through it. Some ISPs don’t offer any kind of filtering at all, claiming that they don’t see how to make money off of it – which seems especially short-sighted. If they can offer sufficient spam filtering, they’re much more likely to keep customers than if they simply let everything through when customers are looking to their providers to provide protection from the onslaught of spam. No matter what, it’s becoming clear that the spam fight needs to be approached from various angles, and many customers are likely to bail out on ISPs that don’t at least offer a spam filtering option.

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Comments on “ISP Hesitate Over Spam Filtering”

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Bryan Price (user link) says:

False positives suck

My web host had their own system for dealing with spam, and the number of false positives was extremely high. They’ve since changed to a service, which is better, but that service of course blocks some mail servers that I also use. Now, I’m getting my web space and email for free since I’ve known the owner since grade school. And I’ve tried to point out to him that false positives are an issue, but I guess he’s been hit over the head about the issue of too much spam. It would be a great help if he did set up a spam folder. And I should bring that up with him.

Dave Locke says:

ISP Hesitate Over Spam Filtering

The ISP’s job should be the same as that of the Post Office, to deliver everything written to a specific address. It’s *my* job to sort it out, and the Net provides bazillions of tools to help me do that. No one but me can provide the effective final human check to failsafe false positives and negatives for my own mail. And I don’t ask the Post Office to help me with deadtree junkmail, either…

Brooke Green says:

Use abstraction

Why don’t we setup standards so we can abstract the responsibilities.

1) Have the ISPs use some application that will categorise the emails and add other information. It will then pass the emails on to the recipients. The emails will have effectively have meta-data.

2) Our email clients can use the information to make decisions. Or allow us to make the decisions.

This way, we can have specialised applications at the ISPs and somewhat dumber applications at the client end. People still get all their mail, but that mail has largely been sortetd.



Bill Elswick (user link) says:

ISP Spam Filters

I happen to be a partner in an ISP that provides a very complete server-side spam filtering service that does virus and spam filtering, web bug removal, tagging, etc., along with webmail access to the spam bucket, per-user tuning, and more.
I can tell you that providing this service has significant costs associated with it, so we can not give the service away for free. But for people who are serious about using email as a tool, the solutions are available.

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