spam and gmail

24 June 2004

i’ve been using knowspam to filter spam out of my email for nearly a year and lately it feels like it’s been causing me more grief than it’s been saving by filtering real mail out with the spam in a non-retrievable fashion. it also seems to have no active development going on, the same bugs have been around for a year, and i’m not happy enough with it to renew my subscription. so i’m after an alternative.

i’ve spent the last week trying out google’s new gmail service which was rumoured to be good at filtering out spam. i’ve done this by channelling all my regular email to arrive at gmail and seeing how it gets on.

i’m impressed with the neat message management at gmail, it’s simple but effective. labelling, filtering and archiving your gmail work much the same as sticking your incoming mail in folders but with more flexibility. starring email i need to do something about works much better than the labelling system i use in mozilla mail, simplicity helps here. spam filtering is pretty good: of the 6093 messages in my spam folder this morning i estimate that only about 200 or so have appeared in my mailbox. so far so good.

on the negative side google are marketing this as a service where you don’t need to delete any of your messages. there’s nothing wrong with that other than they’ve made it really difficult to delete messages! i have those 6093 messages in my spam folder but trying to delete them is giving me a headache. not deleting them isn’t an option. i’ve used 56Mb of stoage space up in a week and estimate that i’d reach the gigabyte limit in about four months.

i can only view the messages in my spam folder in groups of 100, so that’s 61 pages of spam a week to check through and delete. if i want to take more care and only delete things from my spam folder that i’m 100% certain are spam it gets even tougher. when i search for messages by subject line i can only see 20 at a time to delete! and it’s impossible to delete things straight from a search, you have to put them in the trash and then delete the trash 100 items at a time. i deleted 10% of my spam folder and i know i didn’t throw any vital email out with it but it took me about 20 minutes. not good enough.

i think it’s pretty good for a free mail service and it is still in beta and i expect it to get better and i like having my mail on the web and … and .. and … but for me it’s selling point (no need to delete things) is also proving to be it’s achilles heel (very hard to delete things). i like it but it’s not doing the one thing i really wanted it to do which is making spam painless to deal with.

[thanks to kris for the gmail invite.]