Spam Policy

Last updated: Mar 22 2012, 22:47:53

We all hate getting unsolicited junk email (a.k.a. "Spam"), just as we hate getting junk mail in our postal mailbox.

I try to filter out as much spam as possible before it even arrives at my desktop computer, by using filtering software on my internet service provider's (Pair Networks) computer (where all our email goes before we even get to download it).

First, any incorrectly addressed messages are automatically deleted with no further processing. Only a carefully chosen set of addresses are accepted here.

Secondly, a program called Spam Assassin, analyzes each remaining message (both header and body), and assigns a 'score' depending on how likely it is to be spam. (It is also clever enough to be 'taught' by example, what both spam and non-spam messages look like.) It then inserts special message headers into each message it reads before passing the message onto a second program, called procmail which reads the message headers and uses a set of rules to determine if it should delete the message unconditionally (ie. a very, very high likelihood that the message is spam); place the message into a 'spam box' for later review by me; or deliver the message to the intended recipient.

This does of course mean that I have to keep tabs on the spam folder, but it does mean that we get less and less spam in our mailboxes.

At the time of writing this (November 2004), well over 4000 unsolicited emails per day are automatically deleted without us ever getting to see them; so much so, that I am no longer keeping count.

Incidentally, I never follow the instructions that appear in some junk mail messages, stating "If we sent you this in error, please reply so that we can take you off our mailing list". Yeah. Right. Why should I provide confirmation that my email address is valid?

We have recently been getting spam in our guestbooks. People with too much time on their hands seem to think it worthwhile to place their adverts there. I have had to take appropriate steps to minimize this too. As with email, the guestbooks are frequently monitored for inappropriate material.


Spam doesn't have to be unwanted advertising or adult related material. Here are some other related issues that I find particularly annoying.

Sending large binary files

Binary files are any non-text files, such as applications (eg. .EXE files) or images (eg. .BMP files - see below). I never run any executable file that someone (even someone I know well) sends to me. How do I know it is virus free? It gets deleted immediately. Period. This is not open to discussion.

As for pictures, its very nice to see multi-media presentations of your new grand-daughter, but please consider instead uploading the pictures to a web site somewhere, and sending me its URL. (Your internet service provider should be able to provide you with some web space and instructions on doing this.)

Windows bitmap format (.BMP) images

These are extremely wasteful of bandwidth, considering the same picture converted to JPEG format is much, much smaller in bytes. Please consider converting your image using any of several fine utility programs which can be found on the many shareware sites around the internet. Of course, I could email you a copy of what I use, but then I would be guilty of breaking my own rules!


This entire www.gatcombe.com website is Copyright © 1996-2012, Chris Gatcombe




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