Wandering Thoughts archives

2005-10-15

How Hotmail is doing on the spam front

So, how is Hotmail doing with its spam problems? This very issue has come up in news.admin.net-abuse.email recently, so let's take a look and see.

This week we accepted exactly one email from Hotmail, which may or may not have been spam.

Also this week, we refused 84 messages from Hotmail that came from non-Hotmail email addresses, mostly msn.com but including domains like 'ukwiningnotice.com', 'usm2005lot.net', and 'infonotification.com'. Msn.com users rejected included ones called british_lotterywinnings and vhfprizecenter1. (For some reason, posing as UK lotteries seems popular with the Hotmail-hosted people who spam us.)

This week we also rejected 15 Hotmail messages because they came from bad areas of the network; 8 from SBL-listed IP addresses, 4 from CBL-listed ones, and 3 because they were from bad network areas. Two IP addresses tried to send multiple emails through Hotmail:

  • 213.185.106.3, a CBL-listed Nigerian IP address, sent three; two from apavel1 and one from jamesangulu
  • 84.41.216.20, SBL-listed since June 25th, sent two; one from aliwaheed3 and one from aliwaheed12.

Thus, this week Hotmail is 99% unwanted email and at most 1% email we actually wanted. Not exactly a good ratio; Vernon Schryver's remark definitely applies.

(Past summaries of Hotmail.com spam can also be found in SpammerRoundupI.)

spam/HotmailSpamRedux written at 23:43:11; Add Comment

Estimating search engine popularity

First question: why bother, apart from idle curiosity? For a start, I'm interested in knowing how worthwhile it is to do things that help a specific search engine.

Search engines care a lot about their popularity, with the result that you can't really trust anything they say about it. I'm not sure you can trust any other source of information, and to get solid data you probably have to pay money for it.

Besides, I don't care about global search engine popularity; I care about how popular the various search engines are with the sort of people who visit our website.

This has a simple answer: look at your Referer logs to see how many people came from each search engine that you can identify. The fly in the ointment is that this assumes you're equally high in the search results on each search engine, since people tend to go more to early search results.

To compensate for this, I look to see how we rank on each search engine for the various queries people use. However, it's not enough to just use popular queries, because there may be political factors involved in which search engine gets used. For example, the top search that brings people to WanderingThoughts is a search for a specific Linux error message; how likely are Linux people to use, eg, MSN Search? So I tend to use politically neutral search queries, for example spam-related searches.

This compensation is always going to be an imprecise process, so you are only going to get a rough ballpark estimate of what the popular search engines are. If necessary, you can look only at search queries where you have a roughly equal ranking on all of the search engines. (I don't know if anyone really knows how hits fall off as your search ranking drops.)

Our results are that the only popular search engine is Google. MSN Search has only a smidgen of users (and our search rankings are about the same as in Google), and the others might as well not exist.

web/PragmaticSearchEnginePopularity written at 04:43:09; Add Comment


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