August 8, 2003

SpamBayes

I finally got tired of manually deleting all the spam I get at work, so I went looking for a program that could automatically delete it for me. I’ve stayed away from anti-spam programs for a long time, since it seems like all the ones I’ve seen have far too many false positives for my taste. And if I found one that worked well, I’d be rolling it out to others in my company, including my boss, so I definitely didn’t want too many false positives. I tried Outlook’s built-in Junk E-mail system, but there were way too many false negatives. So I kept on deleting them one by one.

I finally found a system I liked and that worked well, but there was no way to integrate it into Outlook. It was the system that AOL put into its new Communicator program, and I fell in love with it right away. Spam was marked orange in the Inbox. If there was a false positive, one click would fix it. A false negative, one click. And the system seemed to learn as you went along. The false positives were fewer and fewer every week. I had only heard of the term “Bayesian Filters” before. Now I was living it. Why couldn’t there be something like this for Outlook?

Well, like most things, you do a better job of finding something if you actually go out looking for it. So this week I went on a hunt for Bayesian plugins for Outlook, and I found one that did exactly what I wanted, right down to the one-click buttons for false negatives and positives. And, better yet, it’s based on a SourceForge project, so it’s free! Here it is: Spam Bayes Outlook.

I’ve been running it for a few days now, and it definitely gets a thumbs up. The training has gone well; after three days it is getting noticably better about false positives, and I think I’ve had five false negatives all week. It doesn’t integrate with my Exchange Server, so when I open Outlook first thing in the morning, all the night’s spam is in my Inbox. But SpamBayes fixes that within twenty seconds.

So if you’re running Outlook, go grab it. And keep checking for updates—it progressed from version 003 to 006 over the course of July. Who knows how much better it will get in the coming months.

Filed under The Computer Vet Weblog

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  1. Margaret says:

    Thank you, yet another brilliant post that is really useful – I'm off to get that Outlook Plugin. I really enjoy your blog – it is a mixture of useful information with a bit of the personal thrown in (I think my favourite part).

    Posted August 10, 2003 @ 12:57 pm

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