The war on junk e-mail is winnable, but you’ll have to go it alone. Recent survey results showing that 9 of 10 American office workers support a federal ban on spam won’t stop Congress from spinning its wheels for the third year in a row. Meanwhile, your company or ISP could install a filtering system on its mail server, but chances are they already did. Like U.N. inspectors, the filters always seem to be one step behind the bad guys. That leaves it to you to mop up your inbox with a personal spam filter.
But which one? Spam filters use different approaches to handle incoming messages. Some stretch a velvet rope across your inbox, letting only preapproved senders reach you. Others use statistical analysis to decide what is and isn’t junk. Still others tie their human users together to vote unpopular messages off the island. The program will serve as your personal assistant to friends and strangers trying to e-mail you, and it will require significant time and effort on your part to fine-tune it.
To pick the right solution, you don’t need a product review—you need a personality test.