Last week, I had one of those embarrassing moments you have years after turning bits and pieces of your job responsibility over to others. I forgot how something worked. No, I didn’t forget the network password or the code to the server room door. I forgot how spam works.
Specifically, I forgot how our spam filtering service works.
It’s OK. I forgive myself. This is about the 5th or 6th spam filtering service we’ve used since it was my job to choose and configure one.
I was made aware of this fact when I noticed that I wasn’t getting certain emails that I had been expecting. It was a weird deal. I am a member of an organization that takes a bunch of surveys. “Why would you join such an organization?” I hear you ask. Actually, it’s a pretty respectable research group. I won’t say which one, but a lot of people pay a lot of money to get the reports that are generated from the research. I don’t have that kind of money to spend, so I trade
a few several a big bunch of minutes to complete surveys and then I get the research reports for free. Well, some of them. In any case, I was getting the reports just fine but I hadn’t received a survey.
“This is Bruno from enforcement at (name withheld for my safety). Do you remember agreeing to complete the surveys we send you? You do. Great. So, how’s come you ain’t completed any since October? ‘’Cuz, ya know, those surveys ain’t free.”
Bruno gave me a few options: Check my spam folder, stop receiving the surveys, start paying for the surveys, or maybe Bruno would stop by the next time he is in my town.
“I check my spam filter daily, Bruno. I really do. But, I’ll look into this.”
Silly me. I thought that the spam filter list I check every morning was the list of spam that had been filtered out of my email. No. The list I see each morning is the stuff that the eggheads at our spam-filtering service aren’t sure is spam. Things they think might be real.
For you technical folks out there, each piece of email is given a score from 1 to 10. A score of 1 to, I don’t know, remember, I gave this to someone else to do, let’s say 5, is considered real email. Email with a score between 5 and 7 is sent to me for further review. Anything with a score over 7 goes straight to Hell. My research reports apparently scored under 5. The surveys clocked in at 7.2, so our email administrator only had to wade part way into the river Styx to retrieve them. If it had been scored 8 or higher, he would have had to fight the Hydra, too. Legend has it that dipping oneself in that river gives you certain greater than mortal powers. This is how network admins survive in large organizations.
The domain of the research company has been added to the whitelist, the safe-senders, the list of people who can send me anything. All is right with the world, Bruno is home enjoying WWE reruns and I am back answering questions.
Below is a sample of the kind of thing that ends up in my spam filter each day. Again, this is only the stuff that the spam filtering folks think might be spam. They aren’t sure. This stuff is, according to our anti-spam service, not nearly as bad as “Please take a few minutes to tell us about your storage usage.”