Luke Melia


February 18, 2003

2/18/03, 3:33pm – SpamAssassin

While on vacation, I got fed up with spam. Because I check mail so frequently when I’m in New York, I hadn’t noticed how many messages I delete on arrival.

Thankfully, I have a solution. Well, more of a workaround than a solution. A solution would be what James Gleick identifies in his NYT Magazine piece Tangled Up in Spam: legislation. But a workaround offers me the relief I need for now.

I set up SpamAssassin on my account at, where this site and some of my email functionality is very capably hosted. SpamAssassin has a set of rules that it uses to score each email message you receive for the likelihood that it is spam. The rules themselves are pretty amusing to review.

So far so good. Accuracy has been 100% in my 24 hours of testing.

I’d prefer to use software which implements Bayesian spam filtering. That seems like a more elegant and robust workaround to the problem. However, I like the ability to check my POP3 account from a variety of clients and locations, which seems to preclude the easy feedback mechanism necessary to educate a Bayesian filter.

Some useful resources in my SpamAssassin setup process were this tutorial on Setting up SpamAssasin on, the man page for procmail, and pair’s “mail” newsgroup on

Also, FWIW, I posted the solution I ended up with here on my site: Setting up SpamAssassin with qmail at

2 Responses to “2/18/03, 3:33pm – SpamAssassin”

  1. anthony chimed in:

    yeah, spam sucks. i’ve been getting viruses lately. thought i’d never say it, but i’m glad this laptop came with norton installed.

    i would set up the assasin too, but i’m too lazy.

  2. isa chimed in:

    so far i haven’t gotten any spam on this address (lucky me)… i read about the spam filtering system in the new york times magazine. good article!

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