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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).

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