Fighting Spam

PopFile Report, originally uploaded by CaptQuirk.

Spam is a pain. That, I know, is not news. However, the pain of it can be lessened. The way I deal with it is by using a program called PopFile, which is pictured above. If you’d like to see a much larger version of the image, click here. The program is open source and free and available from Source Forge.

I last reset my statistics for this program on May 15, 2004, and since that time, it has accurately classified the messages I receive as either spam or personal in 99.85% of the cases.

If you’ll note in the picture, I have the “Subject Header Modification” turned ON for the messages it classifies as SPAM (designated in the image by the left-facing red arrow), and I then filter mail in my email program so that all messages that have that word in the subject go to a folder that is called, not surprisingly, “Spam.” That way, I don’t have to deal with them in my inbox.

Periodically throughout the day, I quickly review what is in that folder to check for any “false positives,” of which there are occasionally but not very often a few. I delete those accurately classified as Spam and correct the classification of any false positives. Reclassifying false positives helps the program “to learn” what is and what is not spam.

I have found this solution to the problem of spam to be quite satisfactory for me, and if you are beset by spam and looking for a solution, I’d recommend you give this one a try.


4 thoughts on “Fighting Spam

  1. Colm Smyth

    Thunderbird’s built in Bayesian-based spam filter also works very well. It’s not as configurable as POPFile, but the fact that it’s integrated into the mail client is nice.

  2. perry Post author

    Yes, Colm, I am aware of Thunderbird’s built in Bayesian filters. In fact, the email program I use, TheBat!, also has built in Bayesian filters. However, I prefer POPFile because I’ve used it reliably for a long time and because I have become accustomed to how it works.

    There are other non-integrated spam filters that others prefer, such K9 and SpamAssassin, however as I said, I prefer POPFile and was proposing it for those who might be searching for a solution to the problem of Spam and not knowing where to turn.

    One nice thing about POPFile is that one isn’t required to change his or her email program just to get a solution for dealing with Spam. Despite all that I think that if I didn’t use TheBat!, I would almost certainly be using Thunderbird.

  3. Colm Smyth

    Hi Perry,

    I might have figured that you were a pro mail user!

    I confess that I’m a sucker for good free software, but maybe TheBat!’s filtering support could convince me. These days I sort mail by using a few different accounts (with a little cross-mailing to keep things straight), or gmail’s tags. Most of my work-related mail I read via Outlook Web Access (definitely the most obnoxious mail client I have ever used, at least in the last 12 years). I hope the next upgrade uses AJAX technology, OWA is like being back in the early 90’s.

    All the best,

  4. perry Post author

    I’d be happy to discuss TheBat!’s capabilities with you privately by email if you’d like. Not only does it have marvelous filtering capabilities, it also makes very good use of templates, virtual folders, colorizing (categorization) individual messages and folders, and is built for security and has very fine grained internal search capabilities.

    It is a bit idiosyncratic and may require some time to adjust to it, but it is well worth taking for a spin for the 30 day free trial, if you are so inclined. They have recently released a “travel” version of it that can be stored on a USB jump drive for ease of portability to someone else’s (Windows) machine when you are traveling.

    You’ll find a number of links to resources about TheBat! on My Shared Links page, which can be found in the right sidebar on the front of my blog.


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