Something weird happened to my email trash – updated

It went away.

Well, not entirely, but consider that for the past year or so I had been using filters that moved 95-98% of my daily spam into the lovely trash folder that Yahoo provides.

It was nice to see all that spam being trashed, but I still had to pick through it regularly.

Spam cans(CR)

The reason my spam-to-trash was so high was that I was fairly aggressive in devising filters to remove obvious solicitations

Here are some of the words:

(for some reason, this name is favored among adult site solictors)
credit card
(I’ll let your imagination consider how this frequently used subject term got on the list)

 In addition, I put a block on a variety of punctuation marks, including:




(when used before a word in the Subject line, as in “?UTF”)

Over time, I developed a list of 67 filter terms, by sender or subject. (I also had a small number of blocked addresses but that turned out to be futile as spammers typically just have to put a numeral after their address to get past that.)

Of course I still had to check my Trash daily because I have friends or clients who might use an exclamation point or a word like “info” or “approved” and sure enough I invariably found an important message that had been keelhauled into Trash. But each term in the verboten list was one that had appeared numerous times in obnoxious spams.

It turned out that the “!” was almost the only item that caused a legit message to be prematurely trashed, but as you can imagine, “!” is one of the favored characters of the spammer.

Now I’m getting one or two trashed spams per day

I’m hesitant to spoil the magic spell but I thought you might like to know what my simple trick was.

I forwarded all the major spam to the U.S. government.

Yeah…this is actually what the fed recommends.

They say forward it, headers and all, to

It’s estimated that about 90 percent of all e-mail traffic is spam. Back in 2004, the Federal Trade Commission received about 300,000 samples of deceptive spam each day forwarded by computer users. God only knows what the figure is now.

I’m not exactly sure what happened but the result was startling. Practically overnight I went from getting 30 or so spams delivered to trash every day to approximately one or two.hang-loose

Now, one other thing I did was include the spammer’s email address in the email I sent to Most of those came back as undelivered but I’m not ruling that out as part of the solution.

One of the so-called solutions that professionals recommend is signing up for Gmail. I think that probably works pretty well. My college gmail box is almost entirely spam-free. But, as with many I.T. solutions, it works best for I.T., not actual real people.

Problem is, I have hundreds of people and dozens of organizations who have stored or recognize my Yahoo email. Furthermore, I have thousands of stored messages carefully sorted into folders and it would be a tremendous hassle to have to go back and forth between systems to access them…not to mention the hassle of informing scads of people that they need to change my address.

The other thing I have done, which IT people also dis-recommend, is unsubscribing. Of course any business that sends a spam is not entirely reputable, but I found that I was able to cut my spam from another service down from about a dozen a day to just one or two by judiciously unsubscribing. (It didn’t work for Yahoo though.) Of course that only works with reputable companies, not the Nigerians, U.K. Lottery, Dr. Oz, purveyors of Canadian meds or other hucksters.

Good luck out there. And, remember, save the real Spam for your next fancy soiree.*Spam Terrine-header-combo

Update: Apparently I’m going to have to eat my hat, or all that spam, because within two days, the hateful email spams not only came back, but came back with a vengeance. Not only that, but I started getting additional spam on one of my other email accounts. Sheesh. It’s almost like the spammers — primarily;; and — took a one-day break, saw that nothing bad was going to happen and then decided to double-down on their attacks. Even though I sorta understand the game of big numbers for spammers, I’m really not clear why they keep coming back since I’ve never responded or bought anything. Of course it doesn’t cost them another cent to keep sending stuff, once they’ve got my email address.

I’m open to bright ideas, possibly including commissioning a visit from guys with the word “the” in  their names — Vito the Enforcer, Frankie the Horse or even “Chainsaw” Sal the Plumber.


*recipe available from the author on request
Spam courtesy of Hormel

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