I have several websites, a blog, and several of my e-mail address are on shown many websites across the web. What's more I have never liked the e-mail obfuscation (harshblogger_at_hypercubed_dot_com). Needless to say I get a lot of . On a given day I receive approximately 50 e-mails only 4 or 5 of which are legitimate (90% junk). To control the spam situation I use Outlook's junk e-mail filter. I've added a "Add Sender to Blocked Senders List" button to my toolbar so I can quickly go down the list, identify the spam, and add the sender to the blocked list. When I press the "Add Sender.." button the e-mails are automatically sent to the "Junk e-mail folder" and the senders e-mail address is added to a list of junk mail senders. Next time I receive an e-mail from the same sender it is automatically moved to the junk e-mail folder. This catches a few of the e-mails (maybe 50%) but those shady spammers are constantly changing e-mail address and half the time the senders e-mail is spoofed anyway. So with such limited abilities I've decided to try something else.

I downloaded Cloudmark; which, from the website, looked like a good solution. It is a plugin for MS Outlook that does essentially what the Outlook filter does, as I described above, but uses a bigger central database of spammers address. I installed the application on my machine and it ran through my inbox looking for spam. Now remember I had already filtered my message using Outlook filter so my inbox should have been fairly clean less a few stragglers. Well, Cloudmark filtered out 15% of my inbox as junk. Wow, did I miss that many? Well, no.... Looking through the "spam" folder I see that Cloudmark filtered e-mail from my bank, my student loan handler, my car insurance company, many online store e-mails (like legitimate Amazon and Dell mailers), many of my opt-in e-mail newsletters (like MSDN among others) , legitimate e-mails from paypal, and even a few e-mails from my wife (is she on their spammers list?). Actual of all the e-mail that it identified as junk only 30% was actual junk e-mail.

Seems like Cloudmark is a little over zealous. I had to then go into the spam folder and filter back in all the e-mail that I do want. Seems to me that I'm doing the same thing as using the Outlook filter except with Cloudmark I'm filtering in my legitimate e-mail rather then filtering out junk. But here's the thing, I know that when I'm flagging the junk in my inbox I'm going to miss a few. That's ok, maybe I'll catch it next time. But if I have to filter in legitimate e-mails missing even one can have consequences. That's the same reason that I wont use server side filtering. I'll try Cloudmark for a few more days and see how it works on incoming mail but will probably be un-installing it after that.

So what is the solution to spam? I really don't know. I often try to use e-mail address that can be discarded later when the spam gets to much but that doesn't seem to be helping. The only real way to stop spam is to get people to stop buying from the damn spammers. The spammers are not sending this stiff because they want to annoy you. They are sending it because it works. For every million of us that flags, filters, or deletes these spam e-mails there is some dumb ass out there that is buying that product (statistics from here). If you're one of those people I want to say: STOP IT DUMB ASS! Maybe this is evidence that we need minimum intelligent rules for internet access.