Re: [Asrg] Adding a spam button to MUAs

Daniel Feenberg <feenberg@nber.org> Wed, 16 December 2009 22:07 UTC

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Date: Wed, 16 Dec 2009 16:55:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Daniel Feenberg <feenberg@nber.org>
To: Anti-Spam Research Group - IRTF <asrg@irtf.org>
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Subject: Re: [Asrg] Adding a spam button to MUAs
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On Wed, 16 Dec 2009, Paul Russell wrote:

> On 12/15/2009 20:50, Steve Atkins wrote:
>> On Dec 15, 2009, at 5:48 PM, Rich Kulawiec wrote:
>>
>>> I think allowing end users access to such a button is a terrible idea.
>>> This is the same population that routinely replies to spam, falls for
>>> phishes, and fails to correctly execute rudimentary tasks like unsubscribing
>>> from a mailing list or trimming quoted material from replies.  It would
>>> be simpler and about as accurate to simply check a random number generator's
>>> output for a "spam?/not-spam?" opinion.
>>
>> Data from actual reality contradicts your (otherwise plausible) reasoning.
>>
>
> Our "actual reality" includes an AOL feedback loop stream that consists
> primarily of:
>
> * spam complaints about personal messages from family members or friends;
>
> * spam complaints about replies to messages initially sent by the user who
>  subsequently reported the reply as spam;
>
> * spam complaints about messages posted to COI lists to which the user had
>  previously and explicitly subscribed.
>
> None of these messages should have been reported as spam, but they were, and
> they outnumber legitimate complaints by a wide margin.

If you don't send any spam, then 100% of complaints will be bogus. The 
more revealing metric would be the ratios of proper and bogus complaints 
to the total number of messages sent. If you send a million messages (all 
non-spam) and get 4 bogus complaints, that is a failure rate of .0004%. If 
you take the ratio of bogus to true complaints, that is infinity (since 
there are no true complaints) or undefined. In any case, it isn't that 
interesting a number.

Your situation, where there are a handfull of valid complaints differs 
only in degree. The number of valid complaints does not belong in the 
denominator. The denominator should have the number of good messages. Then 
you can judge if the users are doing a good job or not.

Daniel Feenberg
NBER


>
> -- 
> Paul Russell, Senior Systems Administrator
> OIT Messaging Services Team
> University of Notre Dame
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