Spam is a growing problem. I have three active Gmail accounts, all of which are bombarded by spam, which is an increasingly irritating problem. There are days when the number of junk mail comfortably exceeds the number of useful mails in my Inbox. Even worse is that I have had sites send out advertisement mailers where the ‘Unsubscribe’ link just does not work, relegating me to receive junk from them for perpetuity.
Granted Gmail gives us a Junk folder which we can put all the spam into, but its not the best of solutions. Reading the relevant support page here tells me that spam is more or less handled like one would in Outlook – create a rule with a set of Senders whose mail will be directed to a predefined folder. The problem with this is that the Spam doesn’t reduce, its only removed from in front of you – sort of like shoving dirt under the carpet.
Spam control is important for every mail service provider. Besides customer satisfaction, there is an inherent cost associated with the delivery of spam mail. Spam not caught has to be delivered to various inboxes(space wastage), replicated across several data-centres(network bandwidth wastes), pushed to millions of devices(network again) etc. Besides these, there is the intangible cost of productivity loss.
I have no idea about what Google is actually doing behind the scenes to control spam, so I might be very wrong in assuming that it is taking a passive stance towards this. So whatever I’m talking about now might be something Google is already working on.
A possible solution for Google would be to start by looking at the junk mail all its subscribers have flagged. I can’t imagine people worrying about privacy issues if Google crawls through their junk mail settings in order to reduce it. As a start, if out of all the mail sent out by a particular email id, say 90% are flagged as Junk by its recipients, Google should block the account of the sender. Taking this a step further, if 75% of all the accounts from a particular domain have already been blocked, Google can simply stop propagating mail from that domain.
Of course all that i have talked about above applies not just to Google but to all mail service providers. So, how about having a consortium or a group to work out on the feasibility of such a solution?