Mailblocks and Challenge/Response


So, I’ve been using Mailblocks for 2 months now and I’ve been meaning to write up a review of my experiences with it, but my buddy Mike did this already.


Mike highlights the big problem with mailblocks. You see they have NO SPAM filter. They simply challenge every piece of mail you get, and whomever can figure out how to prove they are human gets to have their message delivered to your inbox.


Well the problem for me is the sheer number of spams I get and the number of e-mails that are not sent by humans that I care about. I have taken the unusual approach of having all my mail forwarded to fastmail.fm, my main e-mail host, have them scan it using their spam filter (spam assassin), which gets rid of 80% of my spam, then forwarding anything else to mailblocks which gets challenged.


Well the problem is that I still have to scan my pending folder all the time to pick out mails that I care about. There are enough of these that I just don’t get the value of challenge/response. Additionally, about 6 spammers a week actually go through the challenge response and I am still getting spam from them. That just sucks.


So, I have decided to discontinue my use of mailblocks and switch most everything over to my hotmail account. The reason being, hotmail has the best server side Junk Mail Filter on the market… and I am not kidding here. I get an average 5 spam messages a week in my hotmail account, which is much easier to deal with than the 30 items I day in my mailblocks pending folder (the 20% of the spam messages that fastmail’s spam assassin filter does not get). I estimate that hotmail, when set to Enhanced gets about 93% of my junk with very few or zero false positives. For me, I get on average of 180 spam messages a day! So, every percent matters.

Comments (7)

  1. Marc Bizer says:

    I changed my email address ever so slightly and TOTALLY eliminated spam!

  2. Chen says:

    Another way for avoiding spam is to setup an own e-mail server and never post your e-mail address on the net ;).

  3. V. Gupta says:

    [b]The reason being, hotmail has the best server side Junk Mail Filter on the market… and I am not kidding here.[/b]

    You have got to be kidding. With email addresses made of common words (which attract lots of spam) I find hotmail virtually unusable… I literally get 20 SPAM per single good email. The only way to deal with it is either limit the account to only mail in my address book or to download everything into entourage and use a set of custom rules and entourage’s built in filter.

    In contrast my Earthlink account which attracts a similar volume of SPAM is filtered very successfully on the server side and my new Gmail account is virtually SPAM free (although it doesn’t attract too much spam yet). Another example of fantastic server side filtering at least for me is on apple’s .mac service. That account is has almost zero spam.

    I know everyone’s milage may vary depending on what kind of mail that they get, but at least for me, hotmail’s ability to kill spam is woefully inadequate and if anecdotal evidence is to be believed (most friends I know have similar problems with hotmail and have either abandoned the service or use it in a very limited way), you guys have lots of work to do.

  4. Omar Shahine says:

    What is your hotmail JMF setting set to?

  5. Yup, Hotmail’s spam filter has seen a big improvement over the past six months. My account averages 300-350 spam messages a week, thanks to widespread use on the web, and the fact that I also forward an old .edu account to hotmail. With "enhanced" filtering turned on, only 0-3 of those messages make it to my inbox, so for me hotmail’s filter is 99%+ effective.

    Two other observations:

    – Outlook 2003’s spam filter catches some of the 0-3 messages that Hotmail lets through, increasing the effectiveness even further

    – The last "false positive" I had was a gmail invite :-)