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Spam Filter Point System

How the Spam Filter’s Point System Works

In order to help control the level of spam you receive, the Spam Filter employs a points system. Each message sent to you is analyzed. Every time the filter recognizes something in the message as “spam-like,” it assigns a point to the message. The total number of points represents the message’s level of “spamminess.”

These spam recognition tests can include features as innocent as the message having lots of lines in capital letters (which adds 0.579 to the score) to something that is almost always spam-like (“make $5,000 per week”) (which adds 4.667 to the score.) The idea behind this form of analysis is that while any message may contain one or two of these spam features, most actual spam will have enough to push the total score high enough to demonstrate that the message is indeed spam.

The Spam Filter allows you to set two different point thresholds. The first determines the number of points necessary to mark a message as spam. The second determines the number of points necessary to automatically delete a message. These settings give you a fairly high degree of control over what happens with your email.

If an email message is given a score that is greater than or equal to the “delete” threshold, then that message is deleted and you will never see it. If an email message is given a score that is greater than or equal to the “mark” threshold but less than the “delete” threshold, it will be marked as spam but not deleted. Marked messages are either delivered to your Inbox or moved to a special Spam folder.

The Appearance of Marked Messages

After you choose the ”mark“ and “delete” levels, you will be allowed to choose what happens to the marked messages. There are two choices.

  1. Move marked messages to a special Spam folder. If you choose this option, you will not see the message when you check your email. However, if you want to go look at that folder, you can use the Hubris Communications WebMail system to read those messages using your web browser (http://webmail.hubris.net/.)
  2. Deliver marked messages to your regular Inbox. If you choose this option, marked messages will be changed slightly. The subject of such messages will be rewritten to include the characters: ***** SPAM *****. This makes it obvious that the messages are likely spam.

Recommended Settings

In general, you will want to set your “mark” threshold lower than your “delete” threshold. This creates a buffer zone for messages that have a lot of spammy features, but are not really spam. The score may be high enough such that the message is marked as spam but not deleted, thus giving you the chance to read the message if you wish.

So where should you set the levels? The answer depends on how willing you are to have legitimate messages falsely blocked as spam. The following is a rough guideline:

Aggressive – Mark level of 5 or less, Delete level of 7
At this level, you will stop most spam. However, this will also block a few messages that are legitimate mail. These will tend to be messages that look like spam, such as newsletters and advertising that you have requested, but may also include things like AOL customers who type in all capitals and things like automatic Ebay receipts.
Middle of the road – Mark level of 7, Delete level of 10
At this level, very little if any legitimate email will be blocked, but the level of spam will still be reduced quite a bit (compared to having no Spam Filter at all.)
Permissive – Mark level of 10, Delete level of 15
At this level, it is unlikely that legitimate email will ever be blocked. However, only the very worst spam messages will get blocked. It should still catch pornographic spam messages and known scams. However, a lot of spam will make it through.

We recommend that to start out, you set the “delete” level somewhat high—in the 10-15 range. Then set the “mark” level somewhat low—around 5-7. This will allow a large number of spam messages to get marked but relatively few to get deleted. Once you get a feel for how much spam you are getting and how many legitimate messages are getting marked, you can adjust the levels to be more or less aggressive.

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