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The Pain of Nonsense Spam

nonsense spamBy Keven Ages

We are all way too familiar with spam.  We deal with it in our email, our website contact forms and comment sections.  It’s simply become part of our lives, but when it becomes part of our business, it becomes a burden that’s far greater than an annoyance in our inbox.

The American Economic Association estimates that spam costs American businesses between $20 – $50 billion dollars annually to fight spam, and the Canadian Government estimates it costs the overall economy upwards of $3 billion dollars per year.

At WordJack, we see on a daily basis how this affects our clients’ bottom line, and we recently responded by creating a web service that protects their websites from known spammers trying to solicit or cause a disruption in time and inbox space.  This type of spam is generally easy to fight, and its motives are clear, but what about the type of spam that is completely nonsensical?

What is Nonsense Spam?

At some point, you may have received a spam email that made absolutely no sense at all.  The type of email you just delete and move on, but sometimes you may wonder, what exactly is the point?  Here is an example of an actual email sent to one of our clients:

nonsense spam

Thanks, Boneka! However, I have not followed your story to catch up or reada0here, so no need to thank me yet!

This type of spam contains no links, no images, and comes from an email address that doesn’t even exist.  So what’s the point?  Many spam filters made to protect your inbox use a technique called “Bayesian Spam Filtering”. In a nutshell, they calculate the probability of a message being spam, based on its contents.  This technique works well, and for the most part, keeps our inboxes pretty clean . . . but that is where nonsensical spam comes into play.  Sending messages like these are meant to exasperate these filters in what is known as “Bayesian Poisoning”. They are sent in an attempt to influence the filters to recognize the words contained in the email as spam and to give problematic words a lesser “score”, and as such, less of an impact.

As a business owner, this affects you in two major ways.  Most importantly, if your inbox starts to become flooded with these emails, and they have successfully started to influence the “Bayesian Spam Filters” in place to protect you, you may start finding legitimate emails going into your spam folder. Imagine a time-sensitive proposal sitting in your junk mail amongst a slew of Viagra ads and requests for funding a Nigerian Prince. This could be devastating to you.

A lesser issue, but still very important, is the fact that the Viagra and Nigerian Prince emails may start showing up in your inbox again, and you’ll have to spend time sifting through these to get to emails from real customers and prospects.

We’ve recently updated our anti-spam web service in an attempt to see if the addresses that your emails are coming from are real. This is effective, but not bulletproof. As an example, Yahoo doesn’t verify if an email is real or not. Perhaps in a twist of irony, these measures are in place to prevent spammers from creating spam lists of verified email addresses. Luckily, many major email providers do allow verification of an email address, as long as they don’t suspect you are a spammer yourself.

Since we have implemented these changes, we have noticed a significant reduction in nonsensical spam in our clients’ inboxes, which allows our customers and our staff to spend more time working and less time fighting with their email.

WordJack Media provides a wide range of website design and online marketing solutions to clients throughout Canada and the US, including Collingwood ON, Ottawa ON, Barrie ON, Miami FL, Lakeland FL, Orlando FL, Charlotte NC, Hickory NC, Asheville NC and more. Contact WordJack Media today for more information about how we can help your business win on the web!

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