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Human-Powered Spam Filtering

Hemos posted more than 9 years ago | from the interesting-concept dept.

Spam 343

arturs writes "A company called eProvisia started an unusal business: they filter out spam not by using complicated algorithms, but human beings... It costs around $20/year - is the war against spam over?" It's an interesting idea - the privacy concerns are big of course, but how would this stack up to, say SpamAssassin or a suite like Barracuda's Spam firewall. We tested the Barracuda device - great integration of OSS software, with a nice interface. Update: 09/20 15:12 GMT by J : Corrected price of Spam Eradicator.

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Buzzword Bingo (5, Funny)

Lord Grey (463613) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297591)

From the company's "About Our Company [dione.cc] " page:
Privately funded in 1993, now with customers in 40 countries* and over $67 million** in cash reserves, the company experienced a phenomenal growth and continues to aggressively pursue new frontiers in order to meet or exceed the needs of most demanding customers by providing a scalable, seamless, comprehensive offering.

Leveraging our paradigm-shifting product line with state of the art technology developed by a dedicated team of professionals, we offer a significant competitive advantage on the diversified but fragmented market of best of breed anti-spam solutions.

These people score a 9.8 out of 10 in the Buzzword Bingo game. That second paragraph, in particular, would keep me as far away from them as possible.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (5, Insightful)

JaffaKREE (766802) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297650)

Modded funny, but I agree 100%. Who writes these things ?? Do they start with a list of 20 words (Paradigm, leverage, diversify) and have their managers tell them those words MUST be included ?? Yeesh !

Re:Buzzword Bingo (1)

NoData (9132) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297907)

At least there are actual contexts in which the words "paradigm," "leverage," and "diversify" can be used with a straight face (although, rarely the SAME context!). However, there is no excuse for such nauseating idioms as "best of breed," "state of the art," or "paradigm-shifting."

Best of breed especially makes my stomach turn. The images it conjures are a mix of evily grinning eugeneticists and the stinky poop smell of a dog show.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (3, Interesting)

Nos. (179609) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297652)

No kidding, that second paragraph (well, actually sentence) has high buzz word content yet actually only says, we do anti-spam. I have a feeling marketing and technical don't agree on much at this company.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (5, Funny)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297663)

Ah man, I just needed "synchronicity" or "win-win situation" to fill my card!

synergy! (4, Funny)

H8X55 (650339) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297837)

synergy!

I was waiting for synergy to pop up there somewhere...

What's a mission statement, About Us page, or memo from management without synergy?!?

Re:Buzzword Bingo (1)

ch-chuck (9622) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297839)

How about this :
Leveraging the synchronicity of our paradigm-shifting product line with state of the art technology developed by a dedicated team of professionals, we offer a significant win-win situation with competitive advantage on the diversified but fragmented market of best of breed anti-spam solutions.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (0, Redundant)

JAgostoni (685117) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297859)

All I needed was "Synergy" ...

Re:Buzzword Bingo (1)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297669)

I'm especially attracted to their "paradigm-shifting product line". I'd love to see them shift the boring present indicative "amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant" to the more self-actualizing future perfect "amavero, amaveris, amaverit," etc.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (2, Interesting)

garcia (6573) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297672)

That second paragraph, in particular, would keep me as far away from them as possible.

And yet those are exactly the words that HR departments are looking for on resumes. As long as you can use stupid words that really don't work in any other situation you can get your foot in the door.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (5, Funny)

The-Bus (138060) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297693)

Damn it, I almost had a double diagonal if they had said "enterprise" and "legacy" --- drat!.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (2, Funny)

Aliencow (653119) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297714)

. ** - Palmyra Atoll dollars.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (1)

TwistedSquare (650445) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297890)

Anyone got an exchange rate from Palmyra Atoll Dollars to US Dollars?

Re:Buzzword Bingo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297935)

Holy crap. I thought that was a joke until I read the comment below about their address being on Palmyra Atoll. Furthermore, not all 40 countries they claim to have customers in are recognized by the UN.

I also find it amusing that they have their latitude and longitude in their address [dione.cc] .

Re:Buzzword Bingo (4, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297729)

yeah and would like a bunch of buzzword bozos to READ EVERY DAMN MAIL YOU GET??????????????????

personally i just think though that they use some filters to help..

Re:Buzzword Bingo (5, Funny)

spellraiser (764337) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297756)

I hereby propose a new mathematical function. It is called BSD (no relation to the OS), short for BullShit-Detector.

The calculation of BSD is simple. Its domain is the set of all strings. The range is all real numbers from 0.0 - 1.0. To calculate BSD(s) for string s, simply take the length of s (call this l). Then, divide the number of of characters that contribute to the actual, non-bullshit content of the string by l. This is the value of BSD(s).

To give a pertinent example, it is plainly apparent that BSD('Leveraging our paradigm-shifting product line with state of the art technology developed by a dedicated team of professionals, we offer a significant competitive advantage on the diversified but fragmented market of best of breed anti-spam solutions.') = 0.0.

It is my hope that this will leverage the ever-expanding work of linguistics researchers around the world in utilizing paradigm-shifting methods for significantly empowering their abilities to detect bullshit.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (1)

niiler (716140) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297899)

I like the BSD rating idea.

This reminds me of the Foundation trilogy by Asimov when a mathematician analyzed some politician's double speak using symbolic logic. When he finished, he announced that the politician, for all his words, had actually said nothing.

I actually think that's the point of marketing departments - to make people think you're saying something that you're not.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (4, Funny)

Clay Mitchell (43630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297904)

Well, if they are reading everybody's spam, they are going to be damn good at spitting out buzzwords.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (4, Funny)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297925)

Worse than that, click on the signup:

The minute your mail starts flowing, a dedicated team of over a hundred trained Screening and Preselection Specialists, working 24 hours a day**


** - Timezone differences may apply.
....

Re:Buzzword Bingo (2, Informative)

alakon (657771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297939)

but you missed the asterisks- * - Not all currently recognized by UN. ** - Palmyra Atoll dollars. ...from http://eprovisia.dione.cc/about.html As far as I can see, the Palmyra Atoll doesn't have it's own currency... and anyone in the world can make up their own countries.

Re:Buzzword Bingo (5, Informative)

Chris_Jefferson (581445) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297946)

What is more impressive is:

Conveniently located in the heart of Palmyra Atoll, eProvisia LLC is the leading provider of reliable, robust, powerful and cost-efficient spam filtering solutions for world-class corporations and individual users.

Privately funded in 1993, now with customers in 40 countries* and over $67 million** in cash reserves, ....

* - Not all currently recognized by UN. ** - Palmyra Atoll dollars.

Palmyra Atoll is uninhabited, and doesn't have a currency. The phone number is invalid (nowhere has a +78 extension), and what kind of place lists in its address "Islet 7, 5 52 N 162 06 W"?

I wouldn't have bothered posting this except it seems like both slashdot and most of the people reading this seem to be taking it seriously. It's not.

How about wiki spam (3, Insightful)

stecoop (759508) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297592)

privacy concerns are big of course

I thoroughly enjoy wikpedia and I have always thought of new ways of using the wiki concept - here is one solution to spam without privacy concerns.

Your email interface would look at a list on the wiki page and filter out any known spam. One spam slips through and you can make a new entry at wik (like database or text page whatever). The entry could be the whole email or an algorithm but either way an algorithm would eventually be made based on a pattern to reduce the entry size (who knows the community is in control of it). Fixed the privacy concerns unless you did it to yourself.

The next great thing about the wiki is you could take that 20 bucks a month and make a donation to the wiki. Not only would you be helping thwart spam but also supporting a great dictionary, encyclopedia and all things great with the open concept.

Re:How about wiki spam (5, Informative)

troon (724114) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297631)

Already baked [halfbakery.com] : it's called Vipul's Razor [sourceforge.net] .

Re:How about wiki spam (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297706)

Did half backed get slashdotted?

Problem Report

There was a communication problem.

Message ID

TCP_ERROR

Problem Description

The system was unable to communicate with the server.

Possible Problem Cause

* The Web server may be down.
* The Web server may be too busy.
* The Web server may be experiencing other problems, preventing it from responding to clients.
* The communication path may be experiencing problems.

Possible Solution

Try connecting to this server later.

Re:How about wiki spam (1)

ePhil_One (634771) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297709)

Already baked: it's called Vipul's Razor.

Cloudmark has an implementation for Windows, I'm a long time subscriber that gets about 400 less messages a day because of the product.

The only real problem is the jokers who submit mailing lists as spam because they are too thick headed to separate "mail I don't want to read" from actual spam. However, its a minor problem.

Re:How about wiki spam (1)

Dr. Evil (3501) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297902)

Just put your list filters ahead of your spam filters.

Re:How about wiki spam (3, Insightful)

savagedome (742194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297640)

One spam slips through and you can make a new entry at wik

And what's stopping a spam ring from going back to it and deleting it?

Don't forget that *authoritative* is still a grey area for wiki concepts.

With a personal touch (5, Funny)

mod_critical (699118) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297595)

I wonder if they ever verify their decisions with you:

Mark,
This is Eric, your spam d00d. You got a message about fisting, you into that? Let me know, thanks!
-- Eric

Re:With a personal touch (0, Offtopic)

mrgreen4242 (759594) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297622)

If I had any mod points, I'd waste them modding that up funny.

Re:With a personal touch (5, Funny)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297629)

Yeah I was thinking that, how well does this solution work for non-graduate drug addicts who have erectile disfunction problems and need a loan?

Re:With a personal touch (1)

chrispycreeme (550607) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297797)

Wow you just described me! By the way I have credit problems too and I have kind of a high rate on my mortgage. Ive been thinking of getting into MLM tho so my problems should be over soon!

Yikes- maybe I should offer to sort through email for $18.95/month- I would only need about 150 customers to make a living. I already check email 150 times a day- but this way I could make some cash while I do it.

Now here's a job... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297596)

That I would not mind outsourcing to the indians and chinese!

Re:Now here's a job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297826)

IAAI(I am an Indian)...now here's a job I won't mind taking up. It beats the shit off the boring integration, migration,etc that I could be doing.

Imagine getting to go through the mails of my ex a rejecting her new dates' mails as spam...priceless!
The chances, I admit, are low...but priceless, nevertheless.

Party like its... (4, Informative)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297598)

Our company, eProvisia LLC,
I always worry about companies which use "LLC" as soon as the name is mentioned - 'Limited Liability Corporation'. It screams 'we are not responsable!'
[the address]
...Palmyra Atoll (Uninhabited Sovereign Territory)
Sounds like the 21th century equilivant of 'Florida Swamp land'.

Four pages, home, the product, terms of service, and about the company. The only thing they are missing is bios of the 'management team'. Even better the $67 million dollars in cash reserves are in Palmyra Atoll dollars; I wonder what the exchange rate is?

Overall, it looks like someone stole a 'dot com' idea from 1999. Anyone have a little red Corvette?

I'll stick with Spamassassin, Thunderbird.

Re:Party like its... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297646)

Limited Liability Corporation

You do know that the Cingular, largest wireless carrier in the US of A, (largest at the end of the year once merged with AWE) is an LLC...

Re:Party like its... (1)

ericspinder (146776) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297786)

You do know that the Cingular, largest wireless carrier in the US of A, (largest at the end of the year once merged with AWE) is an LLC...
No, I didn't, but it doesn't suprise me, LLC is a very useful legal entity, in particular for corporations which want to band together in a business venture with other corporations. It basicly 'firewalls' parent corporations from the (shareholder and debt) liability of subsidiaries. Cingular doesn't adverties that they are a LLC, but if you sue them, then you'll know. Still it bothers me when a company makes a big deal about it, combine that with other more important issues, and I wouldn't trust them with my spam trap.

Re:Party like its... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297653)

Not really - LLC is more like a cross between a corporation and a partnership. There seem to be some tax benefits, depending on the situation.

Re:Party like its... (1)

Washizu (220337) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297692)

"LLC is more like a cross between a corporation and a partnership. There seem to be some tax benefits, depending on the situation."

It doesn't really provide you with a better tax situation, but it does keep people from suing you and taking your personal belongings. They can only sue the LLC. It also forces you to define a few fuzzy variables that most business start out with (who owns what, etc.)

Re:Party like its... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297697)

The tinfoil hat is in the mail.

LLC Companies (4, Interesting)

jeffs72 (711141) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297767)

Actually, LLC's are the smart way to do a partnership. In a partnership, all principles enjoy equal responsibility for mishaps. In LLC's, all principles enjoy shared responsibility.

I guess the best way to sum it up would be to quote my Business Legal Environment professor: "...and I hope that now you all have a clear understanding of partnerships. Now let me give you a word of advice, never form one."


Re:LLC Companies (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297949)

Ya, no kidding. I work in the video production/post-production field and I have yet to hear from someone who hasn't been screwed-over by their "partner".

I'd never form a partnership.

N.

Re:Party like its... (1)

YankeeInExile (577704) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297794)

Some info [cia.gov] about Palmyra Atoll.

Palmyra Atoll dollars (4, Funny)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297860)

Even better the $67 million dollars in cash reserves are in Palmyra Atoll dollars; I wonder what the exchange rate is?

One Palmyra Atoll dollar = 17 pieces of mithril, or approximately twenty kilograms of fairy dust.

There's no such thing, people. This is a joke.

Re:Party like its... (4, Funny)

secolactico (519805) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297938)

[the address]...Palmyra Atoll (Uninhabited Sovereign Territory)

This is thge odd part. How can an uninhabited territory be sovereign. According to the CIA Factbook [cia.gov] it is a National Wildlife Refuge managed by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Also, it says it has no economic activity. What the heck would back Palmyra Atoll's dollar?

OPEN LETTER TO SLASHDOT MODERATORS AND CMDRTACO (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297603)

*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_
g_______________________________________________g_ _
o_/_____\_____________\____________/____\_______o_ _
a|_______|_____________\__________|______|______a_ _
t|_______`._____________|_________|_______:_____t_ _
s`________|_____________|________\|_______|_____s_ _
e_\_______|_/_______/__\\\___--___\\_______:____e_ _
x__\______\/____--~~__________~--__|_\_____|____x_ _
*___\______\_-~____________________~-_\____|____*_ _
g____\______\_________.--------.______\|___|____g_ _
o______\_____\______//_________(_(__>__\___|____o_ _
a_______\___.__C____)_________(_(____>__|__/____a_ _
t_______/\_|___C_____)/BLOW_IT\(_____>__|_/_____t_ _
s______/_/\|___C_____)__OUT___|_(___>___/__\____s_ _
e_____|___(____C_____)\YOUR_ASS_//__/_/_____\___e_ _
x_____|____\__|_____\\_________//_(__/_______|__x_ _
*____|_\____\____)___`----___--'_____________|__*_ _
g____|__\______________\_______/____________/_|_g_ _
o___|______________/____|_____|__\____________|_o_ _
a___|_____________|____/_______\__\___________|_a_ _
t___|__________/_/____|_________|__\___________|t_ _
s___|_________/_/______\__/\___/____|__________|s_ _
e__|_________/_/________|____|_______|_________|e_ _
x__|__________|_________|____|_______|_________|x_ _
*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_g_o_a_t_s_e_x_*_


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ideas? (1)

BoldAC (735721) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297605)

Why did I think of this?

You would only have to classify each message once by a person... and then have all messages like that blocked. Very sweet. Very India?

I am not sure I want somebody reading through all my email though...

You've been beaten to it! (2, Interesting)

DaHat (247651) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297665)

MailWasher Pro from Firetrust has an option similar to that known as FirstAlert, you sign up for a year membership and use their app to submit spam type messages to them, later, a human verifies that the e-mail is indeed spam and adds it to their database. Once added, any MWP users using FirstAlert will hit the database, see that the message is there and act accordingly (often times deleting without even showing it to the user). It works... ok, about 30% of my spam is nuked this way, the built in Bayesian filtering catches another 40% or so, and the DNS blacklists catch most of the rest. Of the last two groups I verify manually, but have come to trust FirstAlert... it's just a shame it's not getting the high %'s it used to.

Imagine a .. (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297614)

Can they be used for other tasks? Like, what sort of frame rate can they get in Doom3?

So much for.. (0, Redundant)

andr0meda (167375) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297620)

..online banking security.

Hell, I think even I'd like to be trained liek that, too..

Won't work (2, Interesting)

seanyboy (587819) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297625)

1. The only way that they'll be able to do this at a good cost is to use some kind of third world labour with a first language that isn't english. 2. Given that my baysian spam solution seems to be better at sorting spam than me (I've accidently deleted items which were not spam before), then I'm not entirely sure that a stranger could do better. They offer a 100% guarantee. I doubt they'll be able to offer a 100% service.

Yay (1)

jb.hl.com (782137) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297628)

Another example of the age old technique of profiting off dumbasses, this time by charging them money to do what they usually do for free, or could quite adequately automate for [gmail.com] free.

Re:Yay (2, Interesting)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297763)

There can be a huge advantage of looking over data manually.

My job is focused around looking at data to find problems. Many companies by high cost and very fancy data verification tools, address cassing software etc... Then they run these things on automatic on all of there data. What happens is that there data slowly becomes unreliable over time because they are paying their data entry a pittiance or are simply outsourceing it to a foreign nation who has people who do not speak the language, as much as spell it.

So, having someone like me who can clean the data (even sensitive data) to quickly check for errors, find common errors, and write novel solutions for them is a pretty big business. I deal with crap sent from data entry day after day and turn it into data that can be used, and is highly accurate.

So, I can definately see someone using a human as an intermediary between spam.

I could see this working this way. If the email comes from someone "trusted" in the company, it gets passed along without a human filter. Any email addresses that are not trusted would come by a physical person.

This way, if "Bob, your investment advisor" emails you, then that data would be sent directly to the company without human interference.

but, if a mail comes to sales@mycompany.com, then you would have a person scan that e-mail and verify its spammyness. This way, any spam that would get through would have to be from someone trusted. If someone is trusted, then they are not likely to be spam.

It could be a very good system, but I doubt companies would want to allow email to be looked at this way. Consumer responce data, address data, etc.. I can see, but not really e-mails unless there was a pressing need to stop it.

RE: Barracuda (2, Informative)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297637)

https://sourceforge.net/projects/sa-milt-quar

I'm working on mimicking the barracuda's functionality, and have the spam quarantine working.

I apologize that sourceforge is showing no releases, the files ARE in cvs, and are stable after much testing. I'll try to get in and do a release later today.

My hope is to build a full spam firewall suite that is easy to set up and still have much scalability and control.

Re: Barracuda (1)

numbski (515011) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297673)

Oops, forgot to link the Setup Instructions [numbski.net] .

Please use the files in cvs. Kthx!

Re: Barracuda (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297865)

Maybe if you actually *made* a release, sf.net would show it. I know it would, because it works for my projects.

It's yearly, not monthly (4, Insightful)

brucmack (572780) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297641)

The $20/month figure sounded a little high until I read that it is $19.95/year, not per month.

That being said, I don't know if I see the benefit of paying someone else to read my email. They even offer more expensive packages to have them categorize and summarize your mail for you, as well as discard non-spam mails that you don't want anyway. I suppose it could be useful for really busy executive types, but then can't they afford secretaries anyway?

Privacy concerns... (1)

neilmoore67 (682829) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297648)

[Someone had to say it]

So presumably they need to read your "ham" too, that's slightly worrying.

Also, one man's newsletter is another man's spam.

Bah...that's nothing... (0, Offtopic)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297651)

My brain already runs on HPOS - the human-powered Operating System.

God that's good (1)

alatesystems (51331) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297656)

This is great. I've always said that I would be willing to pay someone to filter my spam for me because that would be a "perfect" solution with human eyes looking at my spam.

I might see if I can sell the enterprise on this, because we have people complaining because we don't use site-wide bayes because some people might want mail that other people don't want.

Chris

Nice Idea (1)

Un0r1g1nal (711750) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297677)

This would be the difinitive way of getting around all the little ploys that spammers use, just register to all the crap on the internet and sign up for everything you can, then just mark everything off as spam.

Whenever you get spam let through, ask people to forward a copy to you so that you can add it to the list, and so you can sign up from the details on the email.

The only problem is, this is shooting themselves in the foot, if they eliminate all spam, spammers can't make money, no more spam, no more job for blocking spam till spammers start up again

But still .. would be nice living in a world with no spam, if even only for a bit.

spam tools (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297678)

You could find a better
spam tool in this list [all-technology.com]

My favorite tool is sa-exim and tarproxy which fight back.

Spam won't be gone until... (4, Insightful)

GoMMiX (748510) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297681)

People stop trying to profit so much to help reduce or stop it...

I'm not sure who's worse anymore, the companies out there who sell services to 'help' you reduce/eliminate spam, or the spammers. (Maybe one in the same, in some instances)..

The only resolution I see to spam is good, solid legislation THAT IS ENFORCED. Country harbors spammers, cut them off from the US internet. Spammers AND the companies that hire them BOTH held equally liable. If it's a criminal act to spam, it's a criminal act to hire someone to spam.

People can write programs all day to try and stop spam, it won't matter. If someone can write a program to filter x out, someone else will find a way to get y through. It's an endless cycle.

Spam is like a virus in so many ways...

Re:Spam won't be gone until... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297819)

"The only resolution I see to spam is good, solid legislation THAT IS ENFORCED."

I don't think so. Why?
Simple:

1) even theft, murder, and other crimes are enforced and they are still happening
2) how can you enforce the law on somebody in "Palmyra Atoll (Uninhabited Sovereign Territory)" when you law doesn't stand in that territory :)

I was aiming for an insightful, but it seems it a little bit funny, too. Let me see how you mod this...

$20 a month? (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297687)

At first, I thought that too cheap to be true. However, let's do the math. I receive c. 200 spams a day. That's 6000 per month. I think I could hand-filter that many spams within an hour, so that gives a rate of $20/hour -- which isn't bargain basement, but still pretty reasonable.

The problem comes, of course, in whether they can hand-filter my inbox with the same speed and accuracy as me. 99 times out of 100, I don't even need to open an email to see if its spam -- I know what emails I'm expecting to receive on a given day. Therefore, I can do the filtering pretty fast -- especially if the spam titles are sorted alphabetically, as this makes duplicates stick out like a sore thumb.

But could this company, who has no knowledge of what I consider to be spam, filter at the same rate? If not, then their income rate starts to drop to levels where I don't think they can be commercially viable.

Of course, I haven't read the article yet, so I'm probably blowing hot air out of my arse. But hey, it's Monday morning, and I'd far rather be waffling on /, than writing up a very boring paper.

Re:$20 a month? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297749)

At first, I thought that too cheap to be true. However, let's do the math. I receive c. 200 spams a day. That's 6000 per month. I think I could hand-filter that many spams within an hour, so that gives a rate of $20/hour -- which isn't bargain basement, but still pretty reasonable.



6000 an hour is 1.66 per second. Considering that they have to essentially read each email including your real ones, that is impossible. On top of that, it's $20/year, not $20/month. So that would be 20 spams per second.

Re:$20 a month? (1)

Aardpig (622459) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297769)

On top of that, it's $20/year, not $20/month.

Yeah, when I posted it was quoted as $20/month; that's now been corrected to $20/year. Which seems impossibly low given the number of spams they would have to filter.

Having RTFA... (2, Insightful)

troon (724114) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297698)

...that site *must* be a spoof. All the disclaimers and address in Palmyra Atoll is so dodgy.

Besides, I used to live out that way (Kiribati, in the early 1970s, then called the Gilbert Islands), and I don't recall hearing about these guys! Oh, wait, 1993...

Re:Having RTFA... (1)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297809)

All the disclaimers and address in Palmyra Atoll is so dodgy.

Especially since Palmyra Atoll [wikipedia.org] is "uninhabited" with "no economic activity," and "managed as a nature reserve."

Re:Having RTFA... (2, Funny)

crowdozer (663344) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297947)

Yah I bet a small nature reserve island in the middle of the Pacific has a sweet broadband connection and population to facilitate such a business. Perhaps they are training monkeys to sort your spam. That would explain the price.

Business model? (4, Interesting)

Empiric (675968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297700)

"24 hours a day" * 30 days/month = 720 hours

$20 per month / 720 hours = about 3 cents an hour.

Since they say they begin "manually reviewing, hand-picking and approving important correspondence", how does this work? To pay someone $6/hour, they'd need to be reviewing at least 200 mailboxes simultaneously. My confidence level of their accuracy under these circumstances would be considerably -lower- than a software solution.

Re:Business model? (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297754)

...and, according to their site (contrary to headline), it's $19.95 a -year-. So, make that 2400 mailboxes... Fast readers, I hope.

Not as hard as you might think... (1)

atomic noodle (814905) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297796)

They probably use open source spam filtering apps to presort the e-mails into definite spam, definite non-spam, and uncertain. Then only check the borderline cases by hand.

Re:Not as hard as you might think... (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297834)

Probably.

But it seems like this idea is broken if they let people say "I'll take commercial mail about subject X", and if they don't, how's it personal?

hilarious (4, Interesting)

alatesystems (51331) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297717)

Look at this [dione.cc] about page.

Im going to include their footnotes on that pge in parentheses and bold.

Privately funded in 1993, now with customers in 40 countries(Not all currently recognized by UN) and over $67 million(Palmyra Atoll dollars) in cash reserves, the company experienced a phenomenal growth

Re:hilarious (5, Funny)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297919)

Coincidentally, $67 million Palmyra Atoll dollars is the estimated value of that Free Dell Desktop PC that's just waiting for those who click on your .sig.

Re:hilarious (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297945)

What the hell are Palmyra Atoll dollars? The United States OWNS the atoll.

Info on Palmyra Atoll [phrasebase.com]
Note "no economic activity" [travelblog.org]

So I guess $67 million in cash reserves translates (given the exchange rate of $0 Palmyra Atoll Dollars per $1 US Dollar) to $0 in real money! Congratulations.

Spamassassin works great (2, Interesting)

Stone316 (629009) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297727)

if its setup properly and bayes is enabled. Since Aug. 1st i've recieved 1800 emails flagged as spam... A few false positives but I have my threshold set pretty low. About 140 emails have gotten through and soon i'll take that folder and process it. Before I started processing spam that wasn't caught by spamassassin about 4-5 were getting through a day.. Now its once every few days.

It is by spam alone I set my mind in motion (4, Funny)

Colonel Cholling (715787) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297735)

What the article doesn't mention is that this "human-powered spam filtering" consists of Mentats who have been specially trained to use the latest Bayesian filters, and who bear the Imperial conditioning against deleting important messages.

Its a joke ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297736)

(3) Choice of Law and Jurisdiction. These Terms of Use will be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of Uninhabited Sovereign Territory of Palmyra Atoll, without giving effect to its conflict of laws and provisions of your actual state or country of residence. Any claims, legal proceedings, or litigations regarding eProvisia LCC and its affiliates, subsidiaries, and representatives, will be brought solely in and you consent to the jurisdiction of Palmyra Atoll courts.

Some juicy tidbits on eProvisia (3, Insightful)

looney9 (413470) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297816)

So the first line on their front page reads:

"For the first time ever: 100% reliability in combating spam. Guaranteed."

But the first two bullet points of their TOS also read:

"You understand that there are no guarantees, either expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy, confidentiality or availability of the service."

AND

"You agree to hold harmless and indemnify eProvisia LCC and its affiliates, subsidiaries, and representatives, from and against any legal claims, including liability for the company not adhering to the terms and conditions of this agreement. "

So they guarantee to stop 100% of spam...but if they don't, that's too bad as they never claimed to anyway and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

Some juicy info on the Palmyra Atoll:

"Palmyra Atoll Palmyra is an equatorial atoll, a circular string of 54 small, heavily vegetated islets formed by the growth of coral on the rim of an ancient submerged volcano. The Palmyra Atoll is a thousand miles south of Hawaii, an untold distance from civilization. Uninhabited by humans and wild to the core, it is the last intact marine wilderness in the U.S. tropics."

So they are claiming human spam filtering from a place which is uninhabited by humans. I guess it is true that if you have a million monkeys banging on the keyboard they could actually turn out a real product.

Re:Its a joke ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10297857)

It has to be a joke or a scam...http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factboo k/geos/lq.html [cia.gov] Read the CIA's description of that island and decide for yourself. Seems pretty unlikely this is legit. I would guess the only thing you would receive by contacting this "company" is more spam.

Would you please remind me... (1)

Zx-man (759966) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297742)

...What does the word ``privacy'' mean? Do you really want to get rid of spam (perhaps, even in significant quantities) by the cost of letting strangers, thus anonymous for yourself, read your mail?

I can vouch for... (1)

Trolling4Dollars (627073) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297757)

...Barracuda Networks Spam Firewall. After we got it where I work, it didn't take me much time to set up and it seems to do a great job after the initial training period.

At home I use ASSP as it's pretty simple to set up sompared to Spam Assassin.

Re:I can vouch for... (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297883)

Barracuda Spam Firewalls are so effective that they literally sell themselves. Whenever we have a client who is having spam problems we recomend they do a trial period with a Barracuda, when the trial period is over and we tell them they need to buy it or return it they ALWAYS buy, without exception. It's that good.

isn't this similar to what gmail does? (2, Interesting)

laard (35526) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297759)

from my understanding, all gmail users that click the little "report spam" button are essentially helping build the database and increase the effectiveness of its filters... though I guess they must be careful because this could potentially generate a lot of false positives.

bank statement by email (1)

cyfer2000 (548592) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297764)

I've got my bank and credicard statement sent by email, hope they won't look into those email. :)

this has to be a joke (4, Informative)

unformed (225214) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297779)


Palmyra Atoll is a thousand miles south of Hawaii, an untold distance from civilization. Uninhabited by humans and wild to the core, it is the last intact marine wilderness in the U.S. tropics.

additionally, (1)

unformed (225214) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297817)

the phone number [(+78 327) 47 01 99 ] they provide does not exist. No country has +78 has their country code.

GMail outcry (2, Interesting)

TVC15 (518429) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297780)

And people were upset when it was 'discovered' that GMail was going to programatically 'read' your email to provide contextual advertising (and spam filtering) as an invasion of privacy? Here we will have actual _people_ reading your private correspondences. No thanks.

Sweatshops (1)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297827)

I dunno, I just get this image of a spam filtering sweatshop in southeast asia. People being forced to read about penis enlargements, mortgages and porn sites all day long for pennies a day and no bathroom breaks.

I'd be a bit suspicious (2, Interesting)

J Mack Daddy (774273) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297843)

A piece of software that is filtering your spam is not being paid to do it. Yes it's creators were perhaps paid, but at least they are one step removed. A paid human-based service doing spam-filtering, however, would have a direct motive to want as much spam flying around as possible, so as to have as many potential customers as possible. I wouldn't be surprised if this company was created by and is being funded by the spammers themselves as just one more way to make money from spam! .

Errors (1)

Aggrazel (13616) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297853)

The human rate of error would actually be far worse than that of a spamassassin + RBL + DNSBL type filter. A human fatigues, the machine does not. The new filters are smart enough to update themselves, and while a human might catch some things the machine does not, the machine is less likely to fat finger a button and send your important emails to /dev/null.

Besides, machines are faster. Big John be damned.

Hmmmm. (2, Funny)

modifried (605582) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297870)

"... working 24 hours a day**..."

"** - Timezone differences may apply."

Damn. I was all excited about the fact that they worked 24 hours a day, but I live on the west coast.

Filtering using spelling checker... (3, Interesting)

baywulf (214371) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297886)

Why can't we use spelling checkers to filter spam? It seems all the spam now uses mispelled words and numbers in words to trip other filtering methods. So measure percent words mispelled or with numbers in them and above a particular threshold consider it spam.

I had an epiphany yesterday (2, Insightful)

Jakhel (808204) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297887)

I was out with my girlfriend yesterday morning, we went to breakfast and left the restaurant. When we arrived back at her place, she noticed that I had a flier attached to my car window. Something I had never even noticed when driving. It was for some silly event that I can't remember but it made me start thinking. You know, this is just spam..and yet I'm not all that upset about it. In fact, you see spam everywhere in life, but people rarely get as upset or harbor such a strong emotional feeling toward it. For example:

Billboards - Spam. I didn't ask to see all that while driving

Homeless people begging for money - Spam. Like the Nigerian guys trying who promise you 1 gazillion dollars once you donate 5k

Fliers - Spam. (eventhough I'm always interested in what what is going on my city, but please don't put it on my car window without asking)

People who wear clothes that have the clothing logo in 20 inch font plastered on the chest - Spam. I'm not going to buy clothes just because they say Von Dutch so stop trying to get me to buy them

Cell phone company trademarked ring tones - Spam. It's like they're trying to get me to buy a nokia phone by playing it's themesong over and over.

Bumperstickers - Spam.

Racing Decals - Spam.

Racing Decals on Jackets - Spam.

Can you think of any more? Feel free to jump in

Sorry if this is off topic..I just wanted to share. Why? Because sharing is caring.

i got this yessterfday he likes me (1)

NessusRed (710227) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297914)

Dear Firend, In order to transfer out (fifteen-million pounds sterling) from our bank here have the courage to look for a reliable and honest person who will be capable for this important transaction, believing that you will never let le down either now or in future. I am the auditor and head of computing department of a bank here in Scotland, United Kingdom. There is an account opened in this bank in 1995 and since my inception into office in 2001, nobody has operated on this account again, after going through some old files, I discovered that if i do not remit this money out urgently, it will be forfeited for nothing. How the money came about: The owner of this account was Mr. John Hughes who was a foreigner and the manager of Petro chemical service here in London, a chemical engineer by profession and he died since 1995.And then, since 2001, nobody knows about this account or anything concerning it, the account has no other beneficiary and my investigation proved to me as well that his company does not know anything about this account and the amount involved is (15,000,000.00) pounds sterling. I want to transfer this money into a safe foreign account abroad but i don't know any foreigner, i am only contacting you as a foreigner because this money can not be approved to any local bank here in Scotland, but can only be approved to any foreign account because the money is pounds sterling?s and the former owner of the account is John Hughes and he was a foreigner too. I know that this message will come to you as a surprise as we don't know our selves before neither have we let, but be sure

Guaranteed? (4, Interesting)

bluntmanspam (186509) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297916)

From the home page (in BIG H1 font):
For the first time ever: 100% reliability in combating spam. Guaranteed.
But from the first point on the TOS page:
(1) Warranties and waivers. You understand that there are no guarantees, either expressed or implied, regarding the accuracy, confidentiality or availability of the service.
Hmmm...

Baraccuda (1)

TheFlyingGoat (161967) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297918)

We use the Baraccuda spam firewall here at work and it works great. We have approximately 250 users, so the smallest version was fine for us. It's blocking an average of 1000 spam, 100 virus infected emails, and allowing less than 5 spam through per day (company wide, not per user). It's NEVER incorrectly blocked a message, especially since I have it set up with the proper whitelists from our business partners. I've spent an average of 15 minutes a week tweaking the settings, and it automatically updates its filters, so administration costs are low. I'd recommend it to any company.

It's called the "Delete" key... (0, Redundant)

Vexler (127353) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297924)

...and you'd be a fool to pay $20 per.

Snaremail.com (1)

JSkills (69686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10297928)

--- begin on-topic shameless plug ---

I recently started a service for spam filtering. The idea was to combine several types of filtering as well as allowing a given user to create their own rules. Between whitelisting your uploaded address book, effective use of Spamassassin, Vipul's Razor, (careful use of) the RBL, we also create human made global rules to reject certain types of spam that slip through.

The real draw of the service is that people can use it on an existing email address, by providing POP3 info and picking up filtered mail at the Snaremail server. This is the novelty that I believe makes most new users happy - not having to switch email addresses.

A good friend of mine worked at Brightmail and told me for years, they had many people assigned to adding new mail rules via regular expressions all day. It's a never ending job if you take that approach I'd imagine ...

I'm sure many of the /. crowd has got their own solutions, but for the joe user who wishes to keep an existing email address, I'm getting good feedback.

--- end on-topic shameless plug ---

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