Why are my e-mails being marked as ***SPAM*** ?

Why am I seeing e-mails being marked as ***SPAM*** in the subject header?

We now implement a global spam filtering service across all of our servers. What this does, essentially, is scan every mail received to a users mailbox, and gives it an individual spam score. The higher the score, the greater the likelihood that the e-mail being scanned is a spam e-mail. Once the score exceeds a certain threshold, the e-mail's subject is then rewritten to be marked as ***SPAM***.

How does the spam scanning process work?

Many different parts of the e-mail are scanned to try and determine whether or not it may be spam. These individual tests then (if a "hit" for spam critera occurs) will return a number of points, depending upon the severity of the "hit". The higher the numbers of points, the greater the likelihood that the e-mail is spam.

As an example: if an e-mail contains nothing but HTML (which can often be indicative of a regular newsletter, but also a HTML based spam e-mail), this may result in 1 point being given. If, on the other hand, the e-mail appears to come from a server that has been blacklisted for being a known spam source, 20 points may be given. If the server threshold is set to 5, this e-mail will be marked as spam due to its overall score of 21.

How reliable is this process in picking up REAL spam?

For the most part, this software is above 90% reliable in detecting spam, and can only improve with time. Fighting spam is an ongoing battle, and people are constantly attempting to beat the system. Because of this, you may occasionally see spam e-mails slip through the testing procedure.

Will it pick up legitimate e-mails that aren't spam?

In some quite rare circumstances, legitimate e-mails may be incorrectly marked as spam. If this occurs, please contact us and we can investigate these e-mails on an individual case by case basis and readjust our systems accordingly.

Please be advised that the likelihood of legitimate e-mails being marked as spam is incredibly low. If there were any significant or obvious risk, we would most certainly not be implementing this system wide across all accounts.

So why are these e-mails marked as ***SPAM***? Can you not just automatically delete them instead?

Because the procedure is automated, there is a margin for error - albeit extremely low. Because of this, as a precaution we do not automatically delete any e-mail received to a users inbox. It is much safer to a let a user decide upon the effectiveness of the spam filtering and make their own decision whether or not to automatically delete these e-mails.

Creating a spam folder

Much like many other e-mail services on the Internet, you are able to create what is known as a "spam box" or "spam folder". Once created, all e-mails marked as ***SPAM*** will automatically be moved to this box, and will never enter your inbox. This should dramatically reduce the amount of spam you see in future.

By default, the spam folder does not exist and must be created manually by you, the end user. This is so that you can manually screen e-mails being marked as ***SPAM*** to determine the effectiveness of the spam filter, and ensure that none of your legitimate e-mail is caught.

To enable the spam box, and redirect all e-mails marked as spam ("***SPAM***") to this folder, follow these steps:

  • Login to your website's control panel
  • Under the "mail" section, click on "SpamAssassin'
  • Under the "Spam Box" section, click the button marked "Enable Spam Box"

From this point on, new e-mails that arrive having been identified as spam will arrive in the spam box, instead of the inbox.

Regular Maintenance

Because these e-mails are not being deleted, and are being moved to the spam folder instead, you will regularly need to screen and empty this spam folder to ensure that you do not exceed your mailboxes quota. Failure to do so will potentially cause the spam folder to keep filling up, and may stop you from receiving further new legitimate e-mail if the quota is hit.

There are two ways to empty the spam folder. The first is to login to the webmail system for that individual mailbox, and manually empty the contents of the spam folder. The second, and perhaps the easiest method is as follows:

  • Login to your website's control panel
  • Under the "mail" section, click on "SpamAssassin"
  • Under the "Spam Box" section, click the button marked "Clear Spam Box"

Please be aware that by following the second method, you are purging the spam box before verifying that no legitimate e-mails have been incorrectly marked as spam. Please do so at your own risk.

Automatically deleting spam messages

If having a spam folder is too much for you, or you're happy that the filter is performing well, you can opt to automatically delete messages that are marked as spam.

One of the biggest advantages to this method is that you, the user, have the ability to control the effectivess of the auto deletion filter to your own liking. Are you happy that the filter is picking up most/all of the spam, and want to automatically delete everything in future? Perhaps the filter is a little too sensitive and you'd like it to delete only the most obvious of spam automatically, but perhaps leave the borderline messages for you to verify?

To control the spam filter score threshold, perform the following steps:

  • Login to your website's control panel
  • Under the "mail" section, click on "SpamAssassin"
  • Under "Filters", simply adjust the score accordingly using the available select box.
  • Once happy with the score, click the button that reads "Auto-Delete Spam".

By default, all e-mail with a spam score of 5 or above is marked as spam. If all of the e-mails you are seeing that are flagged as ***SPAM*** are in fact spam, then the filter threshold is set just about right for you, and you can leave this at 5 and comfortably enable auto delete.

If the filter is slightly too sensitive, you can increase this score accordingly to perhaps 10 (or lower), and only the most obvious of spam will be automatically deleted, leaving you to manually ensure that the others are genuine spam. Remember, the lower you set this score, the more messages that will be deleted.

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