Email and SPAM!


Nobody likes SPAM!  Well except for the SPAM filter programmer… oops, i take that back, not even the SPAM filter programmer likes SPAM.  It is messy, pops up images at inappropriate times and can open a back-door larger than the ST Louis arch into your computer.

Reading email can be a bit like having sex.  You must protect yourself because the other person will not do it for you.  With that said… here is the basics of how POP email gets passed around…

Diagram of how email worksThe Sender writes an email and addresses it to you, say and hits send.  The sender’s email program goes out to the internet and finds the server “in-charge” of the email for and gives it the senders email. 

The Receiving Server identifies the new email as their responsibility because of the “” portion and then looks at the front portion and places the email into daniel’s box.

The Receiver then opens their email program and it talks to their pre-set email “Receiving Server”.  The receivers email program asks for all of the email it has collected since the last time it was asked.

This process can be added to include SPAM filtering at several points.
1. The Receiving server can refuse to accept the email based on who is sending it.
2. The Receiver’s email program can examine the email it receives and deletes/filters out the messages identified as SPAM.
Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) is responsible for the SPAM filtering feature on the Receiving server.  While you are responsible for the SPAM filtering software on your computer.
One exception is true however, if you are using one of the thousands of WEBMAIL applications to access your email.  If you are then the only protection you are receiving is via the ISP’s SPAM filter.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that part out of the way…  let’s talk about how to help.
SPAM filtering has multiple parts. 
The first is what is called a WHITELIST.  This is where all the people contained within this list are considered good people, thus may receive email from them without question.
The second is what we call a BLACKLIST.  The people on this list are the bad ones… those identified as having sent SPAM, or do not want to receive email from that person.
Both lists can be added to and removed from manually or automatically thru the use of filtering.
The SPAM filtering software also has algorithms that identify email as SPAM depending on certain criteria.  One way is if the email contains certain key words or phrases.  Another way is by comparing the email to a list of previously identified SPAM messages.
There are ways to enhance the filtering ability of your SPAM filter software. 
1. Add all of the people you definitely want to receive email from to your contact or WHITELIST (also known as SAFELIST).
2. Every time you receive email from someone you don’t want, be sure to mark them as SPAM.  This will add them to the BLACKLIST.
3. Check your SPAM folder regularly for good emails that were accidentally caught by the filter.  Do this about once or twice a week.
These are the three steps I live by for my own SPAM filtering attempts.  If you have any additional questions, leave a comment and I’ll be glad to assist!

me0 Daniel Heth Moran writes for, Our blog about the computer technology industry.  E-Mail Daniel, or follow him on his blog at  Or keep tabs via

Daniel has been running a small technology support business for more than 10 years and has lots of experience with a wide range of computer technology.

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