Friday, 19 August, 2005

Thunderbird's Spam Filter

I'm becoming increasingly annoyed by Thunderbird's spam filter (see also August 5) to the point where I'm seriously considering junking Thunderbird and using my email provider's Web mail interface as my email client.  At least the Web client's spam filter appears to learn.  Thunderbird's filter is catching from ten to twenty percent of my spam, making the filter almost useless to me.  It's certainly not worth the trouble of marking 100+ messages per day as Junk and then having to delete them from the Junk folder.  I've said before that I don't enjoy handling a message more than once.  As it stands, I'd be better off letting all of the messages through and just hand deleting them.

I do have reservations about using the Web client for email.  First, I won't be able to review or reply to messages when I'm offline.  No more downloading messages from the server right before getting on an airplane and then drafting replies at 35,000 feet.  Truth to be told, that's not a major problem now, as I'm not traveling much these days.  But I do like to review mail messages offline from time to time.  I also don't fully trust my hosting provider not to lose my email.  Although I've stopped saving every significant (i.e. non-spam) message I receive, I still do archive quite a bit of stuff.  I'd hate for Sectorlink to burp up my email again some day and not have a recent backup.

And, as I pointed out in Why I don't like browser apps, I have many reasons for disliking Web client interfaces.  I probably could get used to the Web client for email, but I just know that every time I used it I'd be wishing for something better.

By the way, I have used POPFile.  I didn't particularly like its browser interface, either, and it did some very strange things when I was using it with PocoMail on my Windows machine and also with Evolution on my Linux machine.  I came to distrust POPFile.  Perhaps I should give it another look, but I really dislike the idea of putting another program between my email client and the mail server.  It's just two more communications channels and more possible ways for things to break.

I like the idea of Thunderbird's trainable spam filter, but the implementation is lacking.  Or perhaps I'm doing something wrong.  Tonight I'm going to download and install the latest updated version of Thunderbird and reset my usage data to see if I can re-train the filter.  I hope that fixes the problem.