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Blocking spam is a huge job. The state of the art in spam fighting these days is complex technology that analyzes characteristics in each email based on what users have marked as spam.
I'm using Windows 7 and have Hotmail as my main email provider. I'm constantly getting spam as most of us do. However, I've attempted to block the spammers by blocking the IP address, the domain, the email and still no luck. Is there a way to block emails coming from a certain country? Or have Hotmail reject all email from a certain time to a certain time? Say at night when I'm getting the most junk email?
In this excerpt from Answercast #73, I look at the possibility of lowering spam by blocking emails from a certain country or by time of day.
The short answer to your question is no.
Particularly with Hotmail, there is actually no way to configure those kinds of options in any way that would be helpful. And in fact, my sense is that blocking in general simply does not work.
Blocking specific email addresses makes you feel better, but in fact, spammers are sending from a variety of email addresses and you can't block them all. Heck, they could be faking the email address, so that it looks like it's coming from you!
Along those lines, we end up with the same problem for any technique you might want to use to block email based on the domain or the email address or even the IP address.
All of these things are routinely spoofed by the spammers or misused by spammers, so it looks like the spam is coming from other places than it actually is.
For all you know, even though it may be coming from China, the spam could look like it's coming from the machine in your neighbor's house next door. That's really frustrating! But that means that these kind of blanket attempts to block spam based on those simple characteristics of IP address or domain or email address are all pretty much doomed to failure. Spammers have known for a long time how to work around that kind of stuff.
As a result, there's simply no consistency in the spam that would make that kind of blocking useful.
Now, the "time of day" thing. You know, to be honest, I wouldn't use it if I had it. But I'm not aware of any spam-fighting solution that uses the time of day as a criteria for blocking spam.
So I don't think that's on the table at all.
The best thing you can do for spam, particularly with an account like a Hotmail account, is to make use of the junk button; make use of the "This is spam" button.
I think it's called Junk in Hotmail.
What that does is it allows Hotmail to learn from you what spam looks like. Hotmail then uses significantly more complex detection algorithms to determine exactly what is and is not spam. And like I said, it learns based on the kinds of things that you say are spam.
It will look at the content of the email. It will look at the language of the email. It will certainly look at the IP addresses of the email.
But, it won't look at them all in isolation: it will look at them in combination and compare those combinations of characteristics to things that people have already marked as spam The more similar it is to what people have said is spam, the more likely it is that Hotmail will mark it as spam for you, and throw it into your junk mail folder.
Now, the one caveat is that it's not enough to just mark spam as spam when it shows up in your inbox. It's important to also periodically go take a look at the junk mail folder, the spam folder, and make sure that something that isn't spam wasn't falsely placed there.
When it is (and it will happen), make sure to open that email and mark it as "not junk" or "not spam."
That also tells Hotmail that this type of email, with all the characteristics that Hotmail might be able to analyze that email for, represents something that to you is not spam - and should not be marked as spam in the future. In other words, we're also teaching Hotmail what is not spam.
By doing that fairly consistently, you're improving Hotmail's spam detection algorithm. Over time, the amount of spam that actually makes it into your inbox will decrease.
That's really the state of the art in spam fighting these days. Hotmail is
good, Gmail happens to be a little bit better, but both of them rely on the
same fundamental technology that analyzes a number of characteristics of spam
(everything from it's origin to its content) and then based on the similarity
of that to other spam that it's detected in the past, it will decide whether or
not something is or is not spam and make it go away for you.
(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)
Next from Answercast 73 - Why does Skydrive require I login with my Hotmail account?
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