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8 tips to filter spam effectively

Take control of your inbox

Spam is a growing problem where the net is concerned. Some 40 trillion spam messages are expected to be sent in 2008. However, we've rounded up 8 tips that will help your combat spam more effectively, ensuring you get the message you want and not the ones you don’t.

7. Check your own spam reputation

If your organisation is on a blacklist, your recipients might not receive your outgoing email. For that reason, Lochart recommends regularly checking your own reputation. He suggests, for example, visiting Habeas.com, a site that provides companies with a free reputation check and helps them otherwise manage their online reputations.

If you do find your company unjustifiably on such a list, Lochart suggests that you contact its administrator to voice your concerns. In some cases, though, a major league umpire would sooner reverse his called third strike than the administrator ‘un-blacklist’ you. The inflexibility of such blacklists adds to the occurrence of false positives, yet another reason to be careful when choosing your own blacklist or reputation list.

8. Warn your users to be wary of 'red flag' words

If you're waiting in line for security screening at Heathrow Airport, you would be ill-advised to discuss bombs, weapons or hijacking. In the same way, Gonzalez recommends that in sending email, you avoid those red flag words that are associated with spam.

Although keyword spam filtering is less desirable and less common these days, your recipient still might be using it. Therefore, if you can, avoid those words that might trigger a response from the filter, not all of which are intuitive. Gonzalez specifically mentions words such as hey or hello. Other suspects include free, enlarge, pharmacy, alert and diploma.

Putting these words in a message or subject line may not automatically get your email flagged as spam. Nonetheless, if you can avoid such words, so much the better.

Conversely, try to include recipient-specific information in your messages, such as project names or personal references unique to your recipient. Doing so can lessen the chance that Bayesian analysis of your message will cause it to be flagged.

By reducing false positives, you help ensure that real email from your senders actually gets to you, and that real email from you actually gets to them.

  1. Get the messages you want, not the ones you don't
  2. More techniques employed by spam filters
  3. Tips for combating false positives
  4. Move away from older filtering technologies and enlist users to help maintain your whitelist
  5. More tips to fight spam effectively
  6. Check your own spam reputation

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