[Spambayes] full o' spaces

Neil Schemenauer nas at python.ca
Fri Mar 7 12:40:02 EST 2003

Tim Stone - Four Stones Expressions wrote:
> Rather, when we find a significant hole through which effective spam
> can squirt, we should plug it, rather than wait to see if any spammers
> find that same hole.

I agree (with emphases on the word "effective").  If spammers don't care
about effectiveness than it will be extremely difficult to block their

> If it defeats the filters then the response rate, however dismal, will be 
> better than for spam that doesn't defeat the filters.

Nope.  If it costs them more money to send than what they make back it
will not be better.  Sending spam, however cheap, costs money.
Therefore, at some non-zero response rate it becomes unprofitable to
send it.

> Again, I was suggesting that we find the holes before they do.


> And if I can find something that actually crashes the tokenizer, all
> the better.

That's a different kettle of fish, I think.  Whatever the filter does,
it should not crash or lose email, no matter what the spammer does.  I'm
all for that kind of improvement.

> Not to get spam into mailboxes, but to destroy the anti-spam community.

Yikes, don't hurt me.  I think you meant the the anti-anti-spam
community. :-)  Personally, I'm content with letting the anti-anti-spam
community do what they will.  If they come up with something the spam
community adopts then I think we can deal with it.

For example, the "HTML comments inside words" trick must be effective
since I'm seeing it fairly often now.  It's really a no brainer, since
if the MTA understands HTML there is no visable difference in the
message.  Luckily SB already deals with this trick in a more general

> Make people give up hope that this problem really is/can be solved.
> That's the way to make you and me go away.  Simply make it so people
> don't believe in us.

I'm having a little trouble parsing that.  I think you are saying that
if the filter doesn't achieve the objective of keeping spam out of
people's mailboxes then people will not adopt it.  That's true, but I
think the average person is fairly tolerant of FNs, as long as the FP
rate is very low.  I think FNs annoy spam filter hackers more than
regular people.

> >We don't need to worry about spammers' ideas that will be killed by
> >other forces.  Perhaps it comes down to a question of objectives.  If
> >your objective is to keep spam out of your mailbox then trying to detect
> >all spam, effective or not, makes sense.  My objective is to destroy the
> >spam business.
> The two objectives are identical.

Nope.  Blocking all spam achieves both objectives while blocking only
effective spam achieves only the second.  Since effective spam is a
subset of all spam it could be easier to block.


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