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Is Your SPAM Filter Confused?

It started with a telephone call from an unhappy Air Force Major.  He wanted to know why I hadn’t responded to his email.  My first thought was “what email?!?!” I double checked my email Inbox and there were no messages from him in months.  After a telephone call the issue brought up in the email was eventually resolved.  Unfortunately the time wasted between us playing phone tag and actually solving the problem added up to at least an hour or two.  I eventually found his email in my SPAM folder.  The software I was using tagged the email as potential SPAM.  I spent time going over documentation and everything on my filter seemed properly configured.  This is an example of how filtering SPAM can interfere with legitimate email.

Nobody likes spam.  My personal SPAM record is somewhere near 300+ messages in one day.  We all have to deal with it.  The most difficult thing can be filtering the good from the bad. The case presented above illustrates just one example of misdiagnosed SPAM.  My two recommendations for the day are to configure your spam filter properly and have a backup plan in place if email fails.

The Challenge of SPAM filtering
I believe the best way to deal with SPAM is at the individual email account level.  We host a number of web sites for various companies.  Clients call me on a regular basis about the amount of SPAM they’re getting in their mailbox.  The challenge for any hosting company or email provider is filtering the good from the bad.  As soon as you filter a legitimate piece of email, you’re in trouble. We can configure SPAM filtering on the server, but it isn’t perfect. You can’t guarantee someone that legitimate email won’t be filtered. I believe that people should manage SPAM at an individual level.

Proper SPAM Filter Set up
One of the most important things you can do with your email is ensuring that your SPAM filter is setup properly.  Start with your SPAM filter documentation.  Too many people use restrictive default settings and filter good emails. I see this happen all the time.  Set your SPAM filter to an acceptable level to significantly reduce SPAM.  If you are too restrictive or use default settings you might block legitimate emails.  Some filtering programs allow you to backup your settings. Find a setting that works best.

Go To A Backup Plan
One of the biggest annoyances of email is people using it as a scapegoat.  I hear it all the time “I didn’t get your email.” If you send an email and someone doesn’t respond within a reasonable amount of time, pick up the telephone and call them.  This simple, yet often forgotten, process can save you a time and headache.  Take responsibility by picking up the phone and asking someone “did you get my email?”  Don’t make any judgments, just ask.

Computers only do what people instruct them to do and people aren’t perfect.  It’s a match made for disaster.  When it comes to SPAM filters, double check your setup and go to the phone as a backup.

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