Stupid spammers and their stupid statements

There was a comment on yesterday’s work post that, I think, deserves a point by point response because the commenter is stringing words together in a way that seem to make sense on the surface. I’m pretty sure none of my work readers care, though, so I’ll post it over here.

Actually Yahoo users do have the ability to turn “SpamGuard” off on their account. That’s pretty much the equivalent of running an unfiltered account.

Turning off Spamguard is absolutely not the equivalent of running an unfiltered account. Yes, turning off SpamGuard results in no mail being delivered to a bulk folder. This is one part of the Yahoo spam filters. But all email is still subject to rate limiting and other IP based filters. Yahoo does use IP based blocking and this has a measurable effect on the amount of spam coming into an account.

I have both a Yahoo account with SpamGuard turned off and a totally unfiltered mail account. A couple times I’ve had cause to sign up with both addresses while investigating issues for clients. Some of those signups were at co-reg sites and I can tell you that the amount of mail delivered to the Yahoo address without SpamGuard is still significantly less than the amount of mail delivered to my unfiltered account.

One of my concerns regarding Yahoo is that they have started to use a third party filter. They laid off a large portion of their anti-spam staff and brought in a vendor to handle the problem.

The statements about layoffs and the spamfilter vendor do not sound correct to me based on my conversations with Yahoo staff. I can’t name sources , but I can say is that the last few rounds of layoffs I was explicitly told that the anti-spam folks were spared. The reader can make the decision as to which one of us is more trustworthy. I will point out that Yahoo folks have commented here before and corrected statements I’ve made about Yahoo in my comments section.

What about the privacy ramifications of having a third party filter every message coming through?

If you don’t want a 3rd party looking at your mail, then you really should run your own mail server. There’s no ISP out there that doesn’t filter mail, and many of those filters are a mix of commercial and home grown filters. There’s nothing that says a 3rd party is any more or less trustworthy than your ISP. There’s also nothing that says that anyone at the 3rd party has any access to the mail stream as a matter of course.

To my knowledge no major ISP: Hotmail, Gmail, AOL, etc has relied on a third party exclusively for spam filtering.

This is one of the most annoying types of statements from this commenter. He’s implying that Yahoo is relying exclusively on a 3rd party, but will ignore anyone pointing out that this is the case. For the record, Yahoo isn’t not relying exclusively on a 3rd party spam filtering, either. And if you’re going to make an extraordinary claim you should provide some evidence. Yahoo has added another 3rd party into their current filtering schema, which already used other 3rd parties. This is exactly like AOL using IP blocklists provided by MAPS and Hotmail using Brightmail. As for Gmail, Google bought a spam filtering company years ago.

I do think the shakedown theory put forth by the plaintiff has some merit. The Goodmail (now defunct) setup at Yahoo seems to show that paying clients would have their mail routed through a dedicated MX with little or no filtering. The key point is that this was only available for paid clients. These paid clients had more liberal complaint ratio allowances and no volume limits.

This comment is where the commenter goes totally off the rails. The facts are correct: Goodmail customers paid Goodmail for delivery into Yahoo. But the shakedown claim is clearly the result of an overactive fantasy life. Yahoo kicked Goodmail out of their facility over a year ago and Goodmail ceased operations earlier this year. Implying that Yahoo is looking for money by driving senders to use Goodmail is preposterous.

Enough readers have asked me why I keep allowing this commenter to post on the blog. The answer is that I believe factual dissention is good. I’ve certainly been wrong before and am willing to discuss when I am. And I do heavily moderate his drivel.


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