Learn to Let Go of Your Spam Folders

Ignore spam

In the spirit of recent posts about conversational spam and other such topics, I thought I’d let you into a little secret. My blog comment spam folder fills up every day but thanks to Akismet you never get to see the spam on the blog itself. Same goes for my GMail account spam folder (I route all email through it for that very reason). You probably find the same. Several hundred spam comments every day and the same again in email spam. It can get out of control during the holiday season when you’re not there to check every day. So, what do with it all?

You have two options: you could quickly scan page after page of spam, which can add up to a lot of time each week looking for false positives (and that’s even if you are greasing the spam) or you could simply learn to let go of your spam folders.

Both Akismet for comment spam and GMail for email spam automatically delete the contents of their respective spam folder once entries reach a certain age. The trick is not to be tempted to keep checking the spam folders, just in case. Just let the filters do their job and ignore the contents. If there are false positives, so what? 99.999% of the stuff that is filtered (once you’ve trained the system by properly assigning definite false positives and false negatives early on) is most certainly spam.

Do you really need to wade through page after page of ads for “lager beasts”, “vI@ gera gel”, and “dr@gs Rx online”? No? Me neither. Just learn to let go and you will feel a weight lifted from your shoulders. After I got back online following the Christmas break (other winter solstice festivals are available), Sciencebase had accumulated 14052 spam comments. One click on “Delete All” removed the whole lot from the blog’s database.

I am sure some readers will have found that no amount of training prevents a regular slurry of false positives, so for those poor unfortunates you may have to ignore this advice.

For those with a 99.9999% miss rate, the forget-about-it approach is such a powerful exercise in self control, it’s almost Zen, although I’m sure the psychologists in the audience will have something to say about that (in fact please do, but make sure your comments don’t look spammy).

7 thoughts on “Learn to Let Go of Your Spam Folders”

  1. Good point…I guess leaving Akismet to do it’s fifteen-day clearout is the way to go. Any commenter who doesn’t ask, “where’s my comment?” within 15 days presumably isn’t bothered that they got lost in spam.

  2. I don’t check my spam folders but I don’t delete them either. That way, if anyone gives me a heads-up about their missing comment/email, I can still do a search.

  3. Just checking…you did mark any false positives filtered by GMail as “not spam” as and when you first saw them? I get around 1000 spams each day in my main GMail box (which acts as a conduit for my legacy email accounts from various ISPs and signups) as well as acting as the main address for various purposes and I’ve not seen a false+ for weeks. Hence my new year resolution when it comes to spam.


  4. I’ve tended to find that the spam filtering on Gmail is getting worse over time at identifying false positives, including whole threads of conversation that have suddenly moved from my inbox to the spam folder. Although, it must be said, I have now developed an inferiority complex about the size of my p3n|s, so perhaps I should just ignore it all as you say ;-)

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