Saturday, August 18, 2007

How Yahoo is actually using your spam...

I have quite a number of email accounts, and some of them are from Yahoo - but one or two of them are a little special in that I only use those with Yahoo Messenger (and almost never for email). But quite for some time there was something a little strange about those accounts - somehow every 2-3 days one piece of spam was able to get in the mailbox, but surprisingly it was doing that just before the moment when I was logging-in with the messenger ! If I don't use that account at all (neither messenger nor web mail) the amount of spam that 'gets by' is NOT increasing in the normal 'linear way' suggested by the above ratio (1 uncaught/2 days). Also the spam does not have anything 'special' about it - in the Bulk/Trash folders there are hundreds of similar emails that have not been able to 'fool' the Yahoo spam filter.

So for some time I was thinking about that more as something in between Yahoo having some limits to their filters and Yahoo actually choosing to test the choices from their spam filter against me from time to time 'just in case' - which actually sounds cool ... but something wasn't feeling just right ... and then it hit me!

Actually the 'challenge emails' are almost exclusively on the accounts that I only use for Messenger ... and with more and more users doing that Yahoo doesn't exactly get a chance to make people see/click one of their ads ... but if they let that email pass that will make us go to the web interface and the ads are now having a MUCH better chance (which actually is not true in my case, but most likely is accurate in 90% of the 'normal users').

Now don't get me wrong - I do understand that Yahoo must 'make a living' from those ads - but now that I finally realized what's the idea behind those 'mishits', things are somehow less annoying ... but obviously still annoying :) And the entire story just is a reminder that waaay too many things now are paid by advertising - which obviously doesn't quite favor the quality of the service/content :(