Friday, November 21, 2008

Today's gripe

We have crappy e-mail service here at the O-R. Our provider apparently is not able to afford spam filters, and we are inundated with the stuff. You can leave your computer for a moment to go to the toilet, and when you return, about 20 pieces of spam have been deposited in your in-box.

I am weary of the message lines meant to grab my immediate attention: "I've found you a job!" and "someone has a crush on you" are a couple of them. I know that the ones that begin "Dearest one..." are from the widow of an African dictator wishing to share $48 million with me. And of course, there are the ones targeting my sex and age - the Viagra ads.

I can handle the Viagra spam, but lately, I've been peppered with new ones for snuggie blankets and motorized wheelchairs.
Hey! I may be at the point in life when I'm thinking sex might be overrated, but I'm not ready to roll into the solarium of the Old Editors' Home for a nap with a comforter on my lap!

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you should move to a PC - Outlook does a pretty nice job sorting out spam.

Park Burroughs said...

I'll stick with my Mac, thanks - that's not the problem. Just about any ISP or e-mail server or system does a better job of sorting out spam that the one we have. Believe me, we're exploring our options.

Anonymous said...

I always wonder, who are the idiots that respond to these crazy messages. Someone has to, to make it worth all the trouble.

Park Burroughs said...

Thank you for your participation, Mr. Idiot.

Dale Lolley said...

No kidding. I get so many e-mails at work each week it takes me at least an hour each day to go through them all.
I've been getting as many as 500 a day.

Anonymous said...

Park, you misunderstood, I meant the crazy spam messages. Wow, the written word causes so many problems in translation...

Ellipses said...

We have been dealing with the spam issue where I work... And in the midst of all of it, I realized that I have been using my thegreatellipses@gmail.com as a personal account for almost 6 months now... and I get NO spam in my inbox... You can use an email client to pull your mail to your desktop (thunderbird, outlook, mail, etc)...

Anonymous said...

Park, I wouldn’t have chosen this forum to clear this up, but you did, so here goes. As it has been explained to you and others before, your email address is easily accessible. Meaning; it’s published in our printed product as well as electronic versions. For that reason you will suffer an increase in spam. It’s just a fact of the age that we live in. I get between 10 to 20 spam emails a day. Do I like it? No. But why do I get less than you? It’s because I don’t give my corporate email address out freely.

I understand why you have your email address as available as you do and I don’t fault you for it, but, you must understand that with availability comes vulnerability. Think of it this way, we share the same observer-reporter.com domain for our email, if the spam were a domain issue; I would receive just as much spam as you do. But I don’t. This means it’s an address issue. So changing email providers to as you say “do a better job” will be a futile endeavor. You will receive just as much spam as you do now. It may be better in the beginning, but, within a few days, you will be complaining yet again about the amount of spam that you would be getting. You would also be complaining about the important emails that go missing. Spam filters are intuitive, they learn as they go. Unfortunately, the spammers are usually faster than the curve of the filters, thus resulting in more spam.

After one of our conversations I had asked our provider to “tighten” the heuristics of their filters to help eliminate some of the spam problem. Within days, you were in my office complaining that you weren’t receiving emails that people had reported sending to you. It’s a double edged sword, and a broad one at that. I can have the filters tightened to where you get almost nothing, including email that you want, or, relax them in the hope that you get every email that you say is sent to you. Unfortunately, that means you are going to get more spam. You would be amazed at the amount of spam you would receive if we turned the filters off. Not to get off topic, but, to give you an example, one of our co-workers wrote a story that apparently wasn’t very popular. Within a day, that person had received well over 30,000 emails. Yes, that is thirty thousand! All of which were spam. We call it getting “eBombed”. And that was with the filters on. You can only imagine how many this person would have gotten had we not had some sort of filtering. It took 2 people from the IT department most of a day to get the problem under control. This was of course not the fault of our provider.

We have explored many options to see if we can eliminate the spam problem. There are some clients that we are examining to help with the issue. Some are free, others are not. Unfortunately, it does come down to simple economics. Why should we pay more for the same service we have now? This is exactly what would happen. We can do email in-house with spam and virus filtering but it will cost us nearly 5~8 times what we spend now and it wouldn’t really change anything other than how much money would be spent.


I’m not sure who you are referring to as “we” but the IT department is investigating options to help with the spam problem, none of which are “exploring” replacing our current provider, because they are not the problem. How we use our addresses is not their fault. It falls squarely on our shoulders.


Park, if you have questions, comments, concerns, issues, or you just want to plain old yell at someone, my office door is always open. Please don’t hesitate to contact myself or the IT department to discuss anything you may have an issue with at any time…

Thank you,

Dan Fennell
IT Manager
Observer Publishing Company

Brant said...

I've got to side with Park on this one. The e-mail system is crap. No matter how many spam messages one gets, a proper filtering system weeds them out and segregates them in a different folder. Rarely do I get get a spam message in my regular inbox in Yahoo. It's not that I don't get them. It's that Yahoo somehow is able to recognize them and put them where they belong. And spam is not the only problem with our current e-mail system. I have had people send the same message to my work e-mail and my Yahoo e-mail, and while the one sent to the Yahoo account arrives almost instantaneously, the one sent to my work account can take hours to arrive, and it sometimes takes until the next day to get there.

Ellipses said...

I'd go ahead and blame the weekly recorder for that problem...

Anonymous said...

Hi Brant! The problem you had with emails not showing up in a timely manner, has that happened recently? If it has, please tell us. That is one of the issues we complained to our provider well over six months ago. To my knowledge it has been rectified. Again, if you’re still having this problem we need to know.

The example you made about yahoo segregating emails into a different folder is a function of the client, not the server. This, as I previously said we are looking into.

Thank you,

Dan Fennell
IT Manager
Observer Publishing Company

Scott Beveridge said...
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Scott Beveridge said...
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Anonymous said...

When a comment had been "removed" by the author, what are some if not all of the reasons?

Joe