Possibly stupid question, but why not stop e-mail spam in the same way we do IMs?

I don’t see how I could ever get spam-messages from, e.g. an xmpp account. Worst-case scenario is that I get a bunch of ‘subscription’ requests, and I can only add friends when I trawl through the requests, or if I know they’re adding a request at the time, then look out for that request.

Emails seem to let everything in, with a reliance on the admin to sort this out. Why not do the same thing?

Specifically, I’m thinking of writing a script:

  1. If this person’s in my contact-list, they’re cool.
  2. If they’re on the shit-list, they’re deleted.
  3. If not, they get into the ‘waiting room’.

… then set up a shortcut to put someone on the shit-list. So there’s no more ‘you’ve got mail’ notifications from random spammers, and I can review it once a week or so to pull the good-guys out.

Seems like a good idea, but then I wondered, why hasn’t this been done before? If the script works, it seems like someone could do the same thing with a GUI.


Not sure how xmpp works with message requests, but many IM systems like matrix, you have to Accept the message from the other person, IE the waiting room approach. Email (like real mail) doesn’t have that concept.


Does it have or has no one been doing it seriously?! By creating a filter from whom does the email come!? Like in messengers…


I think this problem with spam arises from the design of email as you indicate and I think it’s a pretty serious problem. Kids these days don’t use email and they use it less and less because in part messaging platforms have features that email doesn’t. Businesses turn increasingly towards things like slack for similar reasons. Want to hold a group conversation by email? It’s a mess. Maybe you don’t want to be part of the email chain. Too bad! You can’t leave someone clicking reply all.

Spam and the inability to really properly block is another issue.

It has been done before. This is literally how spam folders work. If you pull an e-mail out of a spam folder, the sender usually gets flagged as “known-good”.

Spam detection is HARD to get right. How do you ensure your spam filter never has false positives? How do you know #2 on your list won’t cause problems later? And most people don’t have time for item #3, sifting through everything in the ‘waiting room’ which will never be empty.

Your system seems to implement a whitelist of people who would be even allowed to contact you. That goes against the fundamental “push” nature of email, if you see what I mean. Remember that just because an email is unsolicited, doesn’t mean it’s spam.


How do you know #2 on your list won’t cause problems later

Same attitude as a blocklist, broadly. Once someone’s on the shit-list, you just need to be okay with those messages lying in the bin, unseen.

That goes against the fundamental “push” nature of email,

Yea, that’s what I’m going for. It seems to work for IMs. And if someone emails me from nowhere, offering wonderful things, I’ll get back to them late, but don’t have to get a ‘ding’ from all the random crap.

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