Spam is probably the single most annoying artifact of the Internet's success. If you have email, you've probably received spam. Both the amount of spam and the number of complaints about it have increased to such a level that, were it not to take action, many of Stanford's core email services would no longer be usable.
Stanford offers three main weapons in the battle against spam:
- Anti-spam filter
- This system identifies incoming spam and tags it. The other two options —Webmail filtering and email program filtering — can't work without it. See the Anti-Spam Filter page to learn how the system determines what qualifies as spam and what does not. It will help you understand how best to use the other options.
- Webmail filtering
- This is the most effective way to kill spam. A Webmail spam filter can filter or discard spam before it enters your Inbox.
- Email filtering
- You can configure your email program so that it shunts spam headed for your Inbox into a "Trash," "Antispam," or "Junk" folder instead.
Future of anti-spam efforts
Spam-filtering is a complex and tricky business. Legitimate email can be marked as spam while obvious spam gets through. The spammers continue to refine their approaches in order to avoid detection filtering. So far, no spam-filtering product can claim to eliminate 100% of all spam. In fact, success rates in the 40 to 60 percent range seem to be the best that have been achieved so far.
Stanford and spam blocklists
Sometimes the cure for spam can be worse than the problem; email blocklists are an example. Once in a while Stanford's email gateways get placed on an Internet spam blocklist. When this happens, email sent from Stanford mail servers gets bounced back to its sender, even when the message is perfectly legitimate (non-spam) email. Why does this happen? Can Stanford do anything about it? The Blocklists page provides information that sheds some light on the topic.