Why SpamArrest and Similar Tools Are A Bad Idea

Daniel

spamarrest email

Another day I was contacting a group of bloggers and webmasters to propose them a joint venture on a small project. I sent over 20 emails, and one of those bounced back, with a message from SpamArrest. It said something like this:

I’m protecting myself from receiving junk mail.

Please click the link below to complete the verification process.
You have to do this only once.

After you click on the link that they send you, you will still need to type some letters on a CAPTCHA. Overall the process is pretty annoying and time consuming, and the first thing that comes into my mind when I see people using SpamArrest and similar tools is: Why the heck do I have to do with your spam filter?

Needless to say that I did not take the trouble to confirm the email I had sent to that guy. I wanted to get in touch, but I was not desperate for it.

If you are using one of those manual spam blocking tools that requires some action from the sender, there is a high chance that you are losing emails and messages along the way. Sure, if someone has something vital to send to you, they will bear the hassle of clicking the link and the CAPTCHA.

But there are many cases where the other end has something to offer to you, but if there are obstacles to getting in touch with you, he will just drop it off. Suppose a potential advertiser wants to know your ad rates. Should he get an annoying SpamArrest email in response to his inquire, I am sure that he will just shop on the next blog on his list, and you end up losing some money.

The takeaway message is: use a spam filter that does the work on your end, and not one that requires the sender to manually confirm his messages. It is 2008 folks, come on!

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49 Responses to “Why SpamArrest and Similar Tools Are A Bad Idea”

  • Fazza

    Well, I’d be interested to know from the Anti-SpamArrest party if they would still use the same arguments if SpamArrest was an Open Source (read cost free) product. I am pretty sure all of a sudden it would sound more like

    “What is the problem in clicking a link and typing in a verification code if you can keep your inbox spamfree for free”

    As for me, the price is the only reason why I, as a student, am not using spamarrest at the moment. As soon as I can afford it I will.

    Have fun,

    Faz

  • John A

    People who don’t like, or don’t “get,” spamarrest are people who don’t receive 600+ spam emails a day on a work account that they can’t just change to another address. 🙂 I was getting 600+ 7 ears ago. GOd only knows what I’d be getting today without spamarrest.

  • Sascha

    Are you all nuts? Phil is totally right.

    I can’t see what’s sooo botheirng about of confirming an email by typing a captacha code just ONCE…?? lazy folks!

    and the problem with common spam filters for me is not those spam that still gets through and I have to delete manually, what annoys me is that no matter how you fine tune the filter… still some wanted emails get marked as spam, so I still have to browse through all emails that were moved to the spam folder to make sure I’m not missing an important and wanted email. It’s much easeir to manually check arrested not yet confirmed emails and add them manually to my whitelist than checking heaps of spam for not-spam mails.

    Can anyone of you name me any spam filter that works 100%? No, you can’t, and as long they don’t, I’d prefer spamarrest.

    Someone suggested to get rid of the spam overloaded address and get z new one… it’s not always easy to do that, specially if you use it for business, as in my case, I’m a dj and I promote concerts, telling everyone in my contact list they should update my contact info every once in a while I find much more annoyind for them than simply confirm their address ONCE.

    I don’t understand what’s so difficult for you to get that?

    Cheers and Aloha!

  • car sell

    I got email first time from spammarrest and it ask to confirm my email address if my email is genuine.
    why i took this hassle to confirm the email address and i know my email is genuine and benificial for user who registered on my website.

  • Rick

    Well, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Here’s mine:

    Unsolicited email has got to be one of the biggest time-wasters in our known universe. Over the years, my personal Yahoo account had become under siege from just about every attack vector known to spammers.

    What’s more, like a frog in boiling water who doesn’t notice the temperature slowly rising until it’s too late, I had become accustomed to my daily (and sometimes hourly) task of fighting this little private SPAM war going on in my email inbox and spam folder. Worse yet, Yahoo Mail’s constant freezing up, failing to respond and forcing me to log in over and over again was crippling my productivity (and my attitude at times, and I didn’t even realize it).

    The issue had become so acute, I was getting many hundreds of these spam emails a day – often times dozens per hour. And I had actually become addicted to fighting this battle! (not realizing it fully). Combined with the slow and unpredictable Yahoo Mail service, my email had become a black hole for time – sucking away at my productivity at every turn…

    Fortunately for me, last week Yahoo Mail became so slow and annoying (requiring me to log in again after I sent each email for like 30 minutes), I decided enough was enough. I was sick and tired of having my precious time wasted day after day – with Yahoo’s horrible web email client and service that was so slow and unreliable… well, as it turns out, that’s the straw that finally broke SPAM’s back! (Thank You Yahoo!)

    So, out of sheer frustration with horrible email service by Yahoo Mail, I decided to finally take the leap – and switched over to GMAIL. Wow!! What a difference.

    No wonder Google’s dominating this market. They have the best product available (both for search and personal email). It only took a little time learning that “Label” means “Folder” to get over the initial hurdle and I was well on my way…

    I’d resisted GMAIL for years, even though everyone else in my family had abandoned Yahoo long ago. I have so much stuff archived in my Yahoo Mail folders, that I just couldn’t bring myself to make the switch. Turns out, that barrier was more in my head than anything (I can still go back to Yahoo and search through my folders, in the rare cases where I need to find something). Over time, this will become less and less an issue.

    Back to the SPAM battle… So, I quickly noticed that GMAIL’s SPAM filter is much more accurate than Yahoo’s, but still not perfect. I was still getting a few dozen SPAM emails a day coming through the filters (and felt I had to look through the bulk folder in case something legitimate fell in there, which happens all the time with Yahoo Mail). To my surprise, I rarely found a legitimate email in the GMAIL SPAM folder (nicely done Google).

    Still, due to my various Internet businesses and the many hundreds of emails I get per day, I was left with a residue of SPAM, even in GMAIL. Then, something fortuitous happened…

    I sent a broadcast mailing to my OPT-IN list of newsletter subscribers (about 25,000 subscribers total). One of them bounced an email right back to me… it was SpamArrest, prompting me to enter in the CAPTCHA code (that little string of characters proving you’re human).

    Then the light bulb went off! I could’ve stopped this whole SPAM problem a long time ago, if I had just taken a few minutes to seriously learn about and try out SpamArrest – an ingenious solution to the SPAM problem (I wish I’d thought of it – it’s an elegant, ingenious tool).

    Since I still have so many emails flowing into my Yahoo mail account, and I don’t want the same issue cropping up in my new, pristine GMAIL account, I finally found the solution…

    So now, instead of just simply forwarding my Yahoo Mail account directly to GMAIL, I’m using SpamArrest as my SPAM filter intermediary. It works like this…

    All my original public email arrives at the Yahoo account (rick_braddy@yahoo.com) – notice I’m not afraid to post it here for all to see…including the spammers

    I have registered this darned Yahoo email address with so many hundreds of places since I first opened my account (so long ago I’ve forgotten when I opened my Yahoo Mail account – like a lot of people on AOL and HOTMAIL, I’ll bet), I have no idea where all this email address is even used anymore. But it doesn’t matter…

    Every 2 minutes, SpamArrest now wakes up and reaches into my Yahoo Mail account via the POP3 email gateway, pulling down all new incoming emails that have recently arrived in my Yahoo Mail account.

    First, SpamArrest checks the sender of each incoming email to see if they are on my pre-approved list. If the email sender is on the approved list, SpamArrest simply forwards the email to my GMAIL account (where it gets further scrutinized as potential SPAM – a job GMAIL is very well-suited to handle).

    If the email sender is unknown (not approved), then SpamArrest automatically replies to the sender’s email asking them to verify they are human (you must enter the text you see on the screen to prove you’re a human and not a SPAM-bot). This is where 99% of the SPAM will get stopped in its tracks.

    You see, spammers are a lot like cockroaches. When the light comes on, they scatter, looking for a place to hide. The one thing you can absolutely count on spammers to do is constantly change their From email address (so they don’t get caught, and so their latest spam email “creative” has a better chance of getting through the existing network-based SPAM filtration gauntlet). Anyway, even if a spammer could somehow reply to the “challenge” email sent by SpamArrest, it wouldn’t matter because they won’t be using that same email address ever again…

    All remaining emails from unknown senders (mostly spammers), remain locked up in SpamArrest’s “holding cell” (the Unverified folder), where they sit for up to 7 days (after which they’re deleted). I can still periodically have a look in this folder – to satisfy my SPAM inspection habit and curiosity, I suppose

    So far, I have received ZERO new SPAM emails into my GMAIL account – they’re being stopped in their tracks by SpamArrest. And I intend to keep it that way…

    Some of the reviews I’ve read about SpamArrest were perplexing. People claimed that you could lose important emails because people might not be willing to enter the CAPTCHA code to ensure your email gets through…

    Let me tell you something. If I send an email that matters to someone and they’re protecting themselves against SPAM, I will take a few seconds to enter the one-time code so I can communicate with the person; otherwise, my email wasn’t very important to begin with. It’s only $4.95 per month for SpamArrest – a pittance compared to the value of most anyone’s time these days… (how much of your time are you forking over to spammers – what’s it worth to you to be 99% SPAM-FREE?)

    Moreoever, as a SpamArrest user, I can now simply go inspect the Unverified folder once a week (or once a day if you’re still in SPAM fighting withdrawal, like me) to ensure that nothing important ever gets lost.

    I have to say, SPAM free email feels GREAT!! And SPAM-free email delivered to GMAIL is even better!!

    And to be perfectly honest, it FEELS GOOD to win vs. the spammers!

    The combination of using a PRODUCTIVE email system (GMAIL) along with SpamArrest has probably given me back one half to one full day per week of productivity – enough time I can now spend more of it doing fun, productive work again – like BLOGGING or Twitter!!! (what a concept)

    When you add up the time wasted on dealing with SPAM, combined with the distractions from one’s ability to focus on productive tasks that it creates, it’s truly an amazing productivity gain.

    I sure wish I’d found this dynamite combination earlier. Now if my GMAIL account eventually becomes overrun somehow, I know exactly what to do (open a new GMAIL account and filter the old one through SpamArrest!)

    Thank You GMAIL and SpamArrest! You’ve given me a significant percentage of my life back that had been wasting away to non-productivity.

    A SPAM-FREE life is the good life.

    Rick

    P.S. Here’s a tip, Google. Go buy SpamArrest and make it FREE! (hey, it’s worth asking 🙂

    P.P.S. What makes you think you aren’t responsible for your email once it has been sent? If you want to communicate with me, you’ll have to get past SpamArrest – or I really don’t care to hear from you – sorry, but the spammers created this reality, now we just need to deal with it. BTW – I do check the SpamArrest “Unverified” folder once a day, so if I’m interested in what you send me, you can still be lazy and get through to me 🙂

  • Brett

    Great article. It puts the effects of spam in perspective. The comments and the article have both given me great general information about spam and spam control.

    Brett

    http://www.thegrowingroom.net

  • Lit

    I think I am going to try spam arrest…it seems you have full control and in reality you will lose fewer emails….Regular spam filters are not smart enough to distinguish 100%. I am always losing important emails with standard filters. IF they really want to get in touch, they will follow through…just like a phone call.

    I just get too much spam, 100s per day. I have a few email accounts though.

  • Meeven

    If you’re using email addresses based on your own domain, the best solution is probably to use a hosted spam filtering service like MXLogic or Postini. You can get it for just over 5 dollars at email providers such as Luxsci.com

    It does more than your ordinary spam filter. Some advantages are:

    – spam never reaches your inbox at all. You don’t even have to sift through a spam folder in your email client to figure out which is spam and which is not
    – no user training required other learning how to login to your quarantine area
    – facility for whitelists and blacklists on a per email account basis
    – global whitelists and blacklists too
    – depending on the package you select, you get either double or triple worm protection engines. The service is also fantastic as filtering viruses.
    – most important, it protects your domain email from common email
    – attacks such as email bombs, directory harvest attacks etc.

    I used to use BoxTrapper for controlling spam, which works exactly like SpamArrest and I really hated it, as did my correspondents. I found my peace in hosted spam filtering.

  • The Masked Millionaire

    My blogging software seems to be real good at catching spam trackbacks. It seems all trackbacks are spam.

  • PodStorage

    You all need a lesson in going on your reader’s journey. It is not about you, it is about them. Sounds to me like many of you think your readers are stupid, annoying, or not worth the time.

    If you were a sales person in my company, you butt would be on the street.

  • slippers

    wow…
    thanks for the advice,
    never think of this kind of stuff are a bad idea.
    good luck mate

  • Michael Roach

    I totally agree about the annoyance factor involved with Spam Arrest. I’ve encountered this a couple of times when actually trying to pay for something…

    Hold on a second, I’m trying to BUY something from you, and you’re making jump through all these damn hoops? What are you thinking?

    Another issue I have with Spam Arrest is that filtering, or blocking, spam does NOTHING to actually STOP spammers. I don’t filter spam at all — I let it all come through. Most of it ends up in my Junk Email folder, of course… Whatever doesn’t, I drag and drop into it.

    From there, I forward all my junk email (as attachments to one email) to http://www.SpamCop.net. (Once you set up an account, they’ll give you a specific email address to forward your spam.) Their program will analyze each attached email, figure out the source IP, and prepare spam abuse reports to the appropriate ISP contacts. The program also finds ‘spamvertised’ URLs in the email and prepares spam reports for the host ISP.

    The prepared reports munges, or blanks, your email address for protection from spam-friendly ISPs.

    This practice has nearly eliminated any spam for me. I used to get over 100/day, now I get less than 20. Sometimes, less than 10. I’d rather report spammers than simply filter them.

  • BlogTalks

    I wholeheartedly agree, as much as I hate spam making me jump through hoops to email you is not going to work.

    That aside Gmail does do a good job of filtering spam.

  • Joe

    Blah! I agree with you, Daniel. I wouldn’t be typing in a captcha just to send an email! That’s just too much for a simple email.

  • Doc

    Nothing beats a decently refined mail server spam filter.

    I do web hosting for a few dozen clients and still mainly use spamassassin (and SPF DNS records) to keep their inboxes clean.

    If you’re paranoid about false positives, allow a small margin of low-scoring spam spam through and delete the rest. All you need is a message rule in your favourite e-mail reader to filter the tagged stuff out, and you’ll never have to worry about disgruntled senders again (other then those plucky spammers, anyway)

    Receiving 5 spam emails a day beats the hell out of missing 5 legitimate messages due to lazy senders, anyday 😉

  • Celito

    Spam filters have grown to be really powerful these days. There is no need for something like Spam arrest. Gmail catches most of the spam right. So just set up your POP3 account to come through via a Gmail account and its all done. As a second measure, I use Apple’s Mail client which learns as you go. Although, with Gmail, I hardly have had to use it.

  • costa

    couldn’t agree more, Daniel. If it takes so much trouble just to get an email through, I will be deleting that address from my contacts lists. Anyway, I think the spam filters with gmail already works fine with me.

  • jonson roth

    So true. This is an incredibly annoying development in email communication.

  • PeterL

    I have also now used SpamArrest for years and am essentially very happy with the results. Once in a blue moon I hear from someone that that couldn’t figure out the process. And I get almost no spam at all.

    I am a Mac user, and thus can’t use MailWasherPro (Windoze only)… I have yet to find any better solution. I still find that Gmail & Yahoo Spam filters get confused and never reliably sort out the essentials.

  • Todd

    The company I work for uses SpamSoap. Works great.

  • infmom

    I really, really hate those stupid spam blockers. If I encounter one in a situation where getting through to someone is a take-it-or-leave-it proposition, I will leave it. It’s almost as bad as call waiting on the rudeness scale.

    MailWasher Pro does a fine job of filtering spam for me. Yeah, it may take a little extra time to look through the list of emails (on multiple addresses all at once) and delete the spam, but it sure beats telling all potential correspondents to go away.

    Phil, if you use MailWasher Pro those spams will never make it to your inbox in the first place.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Phil. for one thing, looks like you are with the minority. Most people agree those systems are plain annoying and not effective.

    As for blocking spam, I really don’t see the chaos you do. Usually I get one or two spam messages at most every month, the rest is all legit. And that is using a standard Gmail account.

  • Shannon Smith

    I use Spam Arrest, and you can set it so that you do everything manually and those emailing you don’t have to jump through hoops to get their message to you. I set it that way because I’m the same way. I’ll usually say forget it rather than go through the confirmation process.

  • Phil

    Actually I don’t agree. I use Spamarrest and have for years and have not had any problem losing mail. I am able to look through the quarantined messages and approve those that I want to be white listed.

    As someone who previously worked in IT and has tried just about every spam blocking application that is available the spammers seem to be just too smart and I found myself wasting a lot of valuable time wading through the emails in my inbox that weren’t caught or having to spend time “tweaking” the filters to try and make them more accurate.

    Since switching to spam arrest which uses a “challenge and response” system as Daniel described I have absolutely NO spam in my inbox because most spam is sent by robots which will not take the manual steps necessary to approve their own messages.

    Spam arrest allows me to upload all of my existing contacts to my white list, and is also setup so that anyone I send an email to first automatically gets whitelisted. Most people I have talked with don’t mind taking the steps necessary as they too are bothered by too much spam and appreciate the need to do something to take control back.

    I have been using their systems for years and at first was afraid of losing business and missing emails – but I no longer worry about that. In most cases a person or potential client that wants to contact me will take the steps to approve themselves (which only needs happen once). If not I take a few minutes every day or two to look through the quarantined messages and manually approve the ones that should get through.

    While it still takes some action on my part I find it MUCH less time consuming than the alternative method which I used for years and my inbox is devoid of any bs.

  • traveler

    True. I know spam is really annoying, but even if I have the choice, I would not want to use a program that could be of a burden to someone that wants to send us something beneficial on either of our parts.

  • Ben

    Sounds more like this person doesn’t want any contact with anyone because I would have done the same thing as Daniel. Why bother? Move on to someone less paranoid about spam.

  • Psychotic Social

    I agree it’s a bit of a hassle, I usually do go through the process of verifying – it puts you on a whitelist afterwards for most, that way chances are your emails go through and you never have to do it again. But I’m not like average folks and I can see how annoying this could be.

  • Frank

    I totally agree with you. We get at least a few of those every month with new sign up. Our billing team does not have time to confirm our email address so we can bill a client 😉

  • LewisC

    Some people even have their regular spam filtering set too high. I see it quite often with barracuda. I had a recruiter send me an email asking for my resume. The job looked interesting so I did. My email bounced back as spam.

    Now they contacted me so I should be in their white list + they get paid only if they get someone to fill a job.

    Oh well, it wasn’t THAT interesting of a job.

    LewisC

  • Jaan Kanellis

    If you have that big of spam problem just get a new email address and take of the one you have.

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