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Spammy spam spam

I do all my personal email via Google mail (gmail). They do a really great job of catching spam. This is pretty important to me because I’ve had my same personal email address for 10 years! (squyres.com turns 10 this Wednesday) Hence, that address turns up on lots of spammers’ lists.

One of the things Gmail does is maintain a rolling 30-day window on your spam. That is, when Gmail identifies spam, they move it to your spam folder. When that spam is 30 days old, it’s automatically deleted. Simple.

Just because I’m a curious guy, I periodically like to calculate my “spams per hour” rate (sph) — an average of how many spams I received every hour for the past 30 days. The calculation is simple: number of spams in my Gmail spam folder divided by 24 divided by 30. Or, for the mathematically inclined, “x / (24 * 30)”.

My sph sometimes varies wildly; I have seen it as low as 2 and as high as 12. Today, my sph is 3.71. Just a few days ago it was over 6.

Consider that to make a change from 6 to 3.71 reflects a fairly large difference in the total number of spams:

  • 6 sph = 4,230 spams
  • 3.71 sph = 2,671 spams

Seeing large fluctuations like this usually means that some kind of “spam event” has occurred within the last 30 days. For example, I have a decrease of ~1,500 spams compared to earlier this week; it’s possible that some spammer got knocked off the net (or filtered) or otherwise stopped sending. It’s also possible that my address fell the spammer lists that were active over the last 30 days.

But the optimist in me prefers to think it was the former. ;-)

When my sph reached 12 a few months ago (8,640 spams in my folder), it was a fairly dramatic ramp-up — the spammers must have been redoubling their efforts to send out huge volumes of mails and/or figured out some clever trick to avoid server-side blocking. The fall off was equally dramatic; IIRC, within the span of 1-2 days, my sph fell to 2 or 3.


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