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Chapter 7. Separating the Wheat from the... > Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath ...

Throwing Out the Baby with the Bath Water

The main reason that email filters aren't used more often is the rate of false positives—legitimate email messages that are incorrectly marked as spam. For many people, the risk of losing an important legitimate email is more critical than being inconvenienced by spam messages. However, it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach. You can deal with the bulk of your unwanted email and reduce the chances of false positives to an acceptable level.

Case Study 7-3

At the meeting, Alice felt as though she had been blindsided. The new spam filtering software her group had been testing had been deployed, and now management was asking why she had deployed the software when they had pointed out a number of problems. Alice told the committee she was unaware of any problems, so she had proceeded with the schedule the committee had laid out.

They showed her a printout of an email that had been sent to her, asking her to delay deployment because a number of false positives seemed to be cropping up in the software. Alice knew she hadn't seen the email, but headed back to her desk to try to track it down. After some searching, she found it.

Because the email message made several references to spam and particular phrases from spam messages, the new filtering software had marked the message as spam and relegated the email to a junk folder. Alice's group never considered the possibility that the filters would catch a legitimate email about spam.



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