What Are False-Positive Emails?

When spam filtering systems block the delivery of a legitimate email, this is referred to as a “false-positive” result.

As it turns out, doing a good job of stopping Spam is not nearly as difficult as avoiding false-positives results. Eliminating false-positives is the most difficult problem for email recognition and filtering technologies, and is what separates the better mail filtering solutions from the rest.

A realistic expectation is that every useful spam filtering system or technique will create false-positives, and especially with regards to automated notifications, mass-mailed commercial newsletters and “legitimate” direct marketing messages.

Regardless of marketing claims, these types of false-positives are unavoidable simply because automated and mass mail systems seldom verify that the addresses they are sending to are legitimate, or that the recipients specifically requested such promotional emails in the first place. As a result, they often send to recipients who never subscribed, and this results in those emails being reported as spam.

Further, as a practical matter and in real-world applications, few users really care if a hobby newsletter or credit card marketing offer from Amazon.com is delayed or deleted by their spam filter, as long as such instances can be easily discovered and corrected so they do not occur again in the future.

On the other hand, the delay or deletion of personal or business communication or a transactional confirmation or receipt can often have significant negative consequences, such as missed appointments, lost opportunities or damaged business or personal relationships.

With this in mind, the real measure of performance and accuracy when it comes to blocking legitimate emails is the measurement of what can be referred to as “critical false-positives.” These can be loosely defined as the blocking of human to human correspondence or legitimate (and specifically non-mass mailed) notifications such as purchase confirmations and other transactional emails that are event specific and unique to the recipient.

Unfortunately, all third-party testing that we’ve seen to date, including online reviews and other comparative analysis, simply don’t do a very good job of accurately making this distinction, if they even attempt to measure critical false-positives” at all.

The result is that while such analysis and review can often be very accurate as it relates to spam-capture rates, when it comes to measuring critical false-positives you’ll need to evaluate them for yourself.

The only reliable guide is going to be experience, typically base on a live-trial of various filtering solutions in order to see how they perform in the real world, and against your organizations unique email stream.

- -

OnlyMyEmail is an award winning hosted spam filtering service and business email hosting provider. Our enterprise cloud computing anti-spam solution, the MX-Defender, has the highest capture rate of any spam filter ever tested in the VBSpam Challenge, blocking a record setting 99.9993% of all malicious and junk email.

Our Personal spam filtering system is also a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution and has won both the PC World "World Class Award" and also the PC Magazine "Editor's Choice Award."

OME-Kids is a webmail solution that protects children from spam and other harmful emails. OME-Kids offers unique Parental Controls that allow you to choose the level of security and oversight that's right for your child.

Tags: ,

Comments are closed.