I used Knowspam and then SpamArrest for a while. They really worked. Checking my email was a joy again, just like it was ten years ago, when I’d know that every email Eudora picked up was for me, personally. It really was a revelation. I loved it.
But, after 18 months or so I gave up on the challenge/response system. Really, it shifts and changes the problems of spam from your inbox to another system. First, there’s the problem of people missing your challenge and their email never getting to you. Second, I always felt bad if I gave my email to someone, in person, and knew that they’d get a challenge when they’d email me. It seemed rude and overly-complex, especially for non-techy people. I felt unfriendly and self-important.
Ultimately it’s a trade-off between how much spam annoys you and makes you ineffective, and how rude you can bear to be to people. Since giving up SpamArrest I’ve been more comfortable that new people emailing me will get through, and I won’t annoy them. The downside is that I dread checking my mail in the morning, even after Spam Assassin has done its job.
More and more spam is getting to my inbox these days, and it’s now a choice between making Spam Assassin’s threshold so draconian that legitmate mails will get trapped, and going back to Spam Arrest. The more annoyed I get, the less I care about pissing off new friends/contacts.
That other people (spammers) have made email such a chore thoroughly depresses me.
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