Need someone to lead product or development at your software company? I lead product and engineering teams and I'm looking for my next opportunity. Check out my resume and get in touch.

Anti filter

Freshness Warning
This article is over 17 years old. It's possible that the information you read below isn't current.

ClickZ contributor and email marketer Paul Soltoff doesn’t like spam filtering software. In "Filtering Our Rights Along With Our Email?," Soltoff laments the fact that anti-spam filters are catching marketing messages, newsletters, and other corporate communications that aren’t spam.

Soltoff sees the spam wars as a question of rights. But where spammers speak of the right of the marketer to send mailings, Soltoff is worried about the right of the consumer to receive email that they have asked for. While I mostly agree with his point that users need to be in control of filtering, I disagree with the broad generalizations he makes and his implied solution.

Soltoff says, "Companies underwriting the development of this software view any solicitation as spam, regardless of whether it was requested by the recipient. In essence, they are willing to prevent email from reaching individuals who want them under the guise of saving consumers from drowning in a sea of spam."

Is this true? Soltoff’s personal opinion about the motives of anti-spam developers is presented as fact. The developers of SpamAssassin don’t appear to want to block legitimate mail from legitimate companies. In fact, the SpamAssassin filters specifically identify mailing lists and words commonly found in legitimate commercial messages and reduce the spam score of such messages. SpamAssassin also passes through email from verification services like Habeas and the Bonded Sender Program. In the eyes of most spam filter developers the single worst thing that can happen is a false positive. It is better to let some spam slip through than to falsely filter a legitimate message.

Soltoff appears to want an end to filtering so he can make sure his clients messages get through. He says he doesn’t want someone else filtering his email. He wants email users to have the choice of reading or ignoring email that is sent to them.

But what if that email user is at work? In the United States, your work email box doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to your employer. Your employer has the right to filter your mail to improve your productivity, eliminate pornography, or any other reason.

For the most part, consumers using their ISP’s mail servers already have the choice whether to have their mail filtered. Many ISPs and free Web mail providers offer spam filtering as an option. The user can turn it on and off. Others tag mail that is suspected to be spam, but leave it up to the end users as to what to do with that mail. People using providers that don’t make filtering optional still can choose to switch providers.

Rather than complain about the state of spam filtering, Soltoff should work toward keeping his client’s messages from being filtered by ensuring that they don’t look like spam. And if he wants to truly help email marketers, he should write a column on how to prevent your email from triggering spam filters. I’ll even help him research and write it.

August 28, 2002 3:46 PM

"Manual trackback" :-) You might be interested in the following URL:

This discussion has been closed.

Recently Written

A framework for onboarding new employees (May 15)
There’s no single good way to onboard an employee that works for every role. Here's a framework for creating a process that you can adapt to each situation.
TV hosts as a guide for software managers (May 10)
Software managers can learn a lot from journalists or late night TV hosts and how they interview people.
The Improvement Flywheel (Apr 29)
An incredible flywheel for the improvement of a development team. Fix a few things, and everything starts getting better.
Managers and technical ability (Dec 26)
In technical fields, the closer you are to the actual work being done, the closer your skills need to resemble those of the people doing the work.
Dysfunctions of output-oriented software teams (Sep 17)
Whatever you call it, the symptom is that you're measuring your progress by how much you build and deliver instead of measuring success by the amount of customer value you create.
Evaluative and generative product development (Aug 30)
Customers never even talk to the companies that don't fit their needs at all. If the only product ideas you're considering are those that meet the needs of your current customers, then you're only going to find new customers that look exactly like your current customers.
Product Manager Career Ladder (Aug 19)
What are the steps along the product management career path?
Building the Customer-Informed Product (Aug 15)
Strong products aren't composed of a list of features dictated by customers. They are guided by strong visions, and the execution of that vision is the primary focus of product development.


What I'm Reading


Adam Kalsey

+1 916 600 2497


Public Key

© 1999-2020 Adam Kalsey.