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January 23, 2008
Issue No. 76

Table of Contents

Still Getting Too Much Spam? Turn Up the Heat!

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By Nuriya Janss

Did you know that you can raise or lower the amount of spam (unsolicited email) sent to your email inbox?

IT Services' Spam Deletion and Filtering Tool lets you control the level of automatic filtering and deletion by Stanford's spam filters. When you increase the threshold, the messages that meet or exceed that level are automatically deleted from the mail system (you never see them) or filtered directly into the spam folder in your account on the server.

spam meter cartoon-graphic for article

How Stanford's Mail Servers Filter Spam

When email reaches Stanford's mail servers, it is analyzed by Stanford's email and security software system. If an email appears to be spam, the subject line is tagged [SPAM: #...]. The number of # signs indicates the system's confidence that the email is spam, from one to five, with five indicating the highest level of confidence.

By default, all email marked with five # symbols is discarded by the system before it even reaches your mailbox. Email marked with four # symbols is filed into your server spam folder. If you've changed the default and are getting too much spam, e.g., your Spam Filtering Threshold is set to "### or more", you can raise it to "## or more". Or, if you find that Stanford's spam filters are overzealous at the "### or more" setting, you can decrease the level by choosing the "#### or more" setting.

See or Set Your Current Spam Settings

You can see your current settings (or set them up) using the Spam Deletion and Filtering Tool. The tool has two components:

Before you reset your spam control though, read the caveats on the spam Web page. Legitimate email can sometimes be mislabeled as spam, and once deleted, it can't be restored. To make sure you don't lose any valuable email, you can opt to have spam filtered rather than deleted. Then, periodically, you can check your spam folder and manually delete any email you don't want. (Messages in the spam folder are automatically deleted after 30 days.) To check your spam folder, login to Webmail. On the toolbar, in the Open Folder dropdown list, click Spam.

For More Information

For a complete overview of Stanford's spam filtering tools and processes, see the Anti-Spam Web page.