Gmail spam-filter wonkiness
November 25, 2004 12:03 AM   Subscribe

GmailFilter: Is it just me, or does Gmail's spam-filtering engine occasionally (and sometimes regularly) just give up the ghost? I have a legacy personal email account dating back from the dark ages which receives over 300 emails a day, 95% of which is spam. I used to pull this mail down into Outlook and use SpamNet to filter it, but I recently set the legacy account to redirect through my Gmail account, which normally catches all but about 5% of the spam - Result! However, I find that Gmail regularly (about once a week) decides to let another 5-10% of the spam through - and in the last couple of days it seems to have fallen over completely (i.e. I am getting new spam every minute or so). Anyone else notice anything funny going on?
posted by LondonYank to Computers & Internet (12 answers total)
Letting in 5% more spam than SpamNet cannot be defined as "giving up the ghost." There's a basic tradeoff between trashing real messages and limiting the amount of spam you have to look at. Maybe SpamNet kills off a few legit messages here and there, while GMail doesn't. The side effect is 5% more spam. I'd expect differences in the way two programs approach the problem. But don't despair.
posted by scarabic at 12:18 AM on November 25, 2004

Response by poster: It's not that it normally lets in 5% more - overall I find Gmail's spam filtering to be even more efficient than Spamnet - it's that it periodically falls over, and just recently has fallen over entirely. Just wondered if anyone else has experienced this or if it's a specific problem with the large amount of spams that my account receives.
posted by LondonYank at 1:08 AM on November 25, 2004

I noticed in the last week that gmail had some serious delays in receiving emails. On a few threads from a google-groups mailing list I received the replies a few hours earlier than the original message.

Also a few messages from other non-mailinglists got delayed quite some time.

It looks like they have some growing pains at the moment.
posted by sebas at 1:25 AM on November 25, 2004

Also, spam mutates over time, and it undoubtedly takes them a little bit to catch on to each successive mutation. My University account has server-side spamblocking, and every week I'll get a few messages with same or similar subject lines, different from messages that got through in the past.
posted by kavasa at 2:28 AM on November 25, 2004

Gmail has been steady on the spam-filtering aspect since i signed up 6 months ago, and some totally unhinged yahoo I pissed off on craigslist just hit me with a "signup bomb", which I found amusing.

I don't know if gmail blocked any of 'em - it shouldn't, 'cause for all gmail knows they're all valid requests - but I'm certainly not worried about spam from any of the signups. I've had the same 8 pieces of spam in the bulk folder for about 2 weeks now. (not recurring pieces, just the same 8 individual messages sitting there)

And I have two reliably spam-laden addresses forwarding through it.

I haven't had any serious speed delays in recieving stuff, but it frequently times out on uploading attachments. Very frequently.
posted by loquacious at 3:42 AM on November 25, 2004

Well, it is a Beta, you know. Maybe you should let them know the problems you're having?
posted by signal at 5:17 AM on November 25, 2004

I had the exact same problems with GMail starting maybe a week ago. It drove me crazy enough that I just turned off my oldest email address to stop the spam.

Previous to a week ago, it was catching 99% of the spam I get (probably 200-300 messages a day, this is the email address I posted to usenet through for years). Then all of a sudden, BAM, it was down to catching 10% or so and I was manually doing the other 90%.

I don't know if it just unlearned what it had learned, if I accidentally taught it something I shouldn't have, or if something is actually wrong. Sorry I don't have answers, just shared experiences. Most of the people I've talked to seem to not be having a problem. My solution was to Old Yeller the old address that was leading to a vast majority of my spam anyways.
posted by cmm at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2004

Response by poster: I reported the problem earlier today, and strangely it seems to have resolved itself now - I am no longer getting heaps of spams.

And as far as Old Yeller-ing my old account, well... The old boy's still got some life in him, and every time I think about shutting him down, I get some random acquaintance from years back popping up out of the woodwork. I've had the same address since 1996 and I take some small comfort that people can still reach me on it, even though it's long since ceased to be my primary account. It's good to know it's still there if all the other ones fall through.
posted by LondonYank at 7:58 AM on November 25, 2004

I received an uncharacteristic volume of spam that got past GMail's filters in the past 18 hours.
posted by blueshammer at 8:10 AM on November 25, 2004

Me too.
posted by Asparagirl at 9:55 AM on November 25, 2004

If you don't get much correspondence on the old e-mail address, put an auto-reply on it that informs people of your new address, rather than filtering and forwarding. That way the occasional person who wants to contact you can still do so, but you don't have to sort through any spam.

I use this technique with e-mail addresses I've discarded (and for messages that fail my server-side filters) and I currently get 3-5 spams a day.
posted by kindall at 11:58 AM on November 25, 2004

I haven't noticed any extra spam. I don't regularly get as much as you guys though.
posted by swank6 at 3:04 PM on November 25, 2004

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