Google Thinks Spammers Might Be Giving Up

Brad Taylor, Google’s chief spam “watchdog,” suspects that spammers may actually be giving up as filters becomes more sophisticated and fewer of their messages get through.

Google won’t disclose numbers, but the company says that spam attempts, as a percentage of e-mail that’s transmitted through its Gmail system, have waned over the last year. That could indicate that some spammers have gotten discouraged and have stopped trying to get through Google’s spam filters.

Other experts disagree, claiming that spam is on the rise.

All we know is that gmail’s spam filter is so good that we have no concept of how much spam is truly out there, and that’s the way it should be.

Spammers Giving Up? Google Thinks So [Wired via BoingBoing]


Edit Your Comment

  1. smh says:

    Last week a bunch of erectile dysfunction spam somehow made it into my Gmail inbox. But that was a weird exception. I will say that Gmail’s spam filters are great.

  2. Sherryness says:

    I wonder whether or not some spammers going to jail has become a deterrent as well? That is, if spam is actually decreasing.

  3. headon says:

    Spam is not all bad. I took those penis enlargment pills and whoa best 2 million dollars I ever spent

  4. nightshade74 says:

    My ironport shows that 98.7% of inbound mail this
    month is flagged as SPAM. I’d hate to see what they’d
    do if they were’nt giving up….

  5. humphrmi says:

    My gmail inbox is by far the cleanest of any of my webmail accounts. Well, I guess I only have two – Yahoo and Gmail. But in the last 12 months I got one spam email that went past gmail’s filters, and I get at least a half-dozen a day that get by Yahoo’s.

    So yeah, it’s great to be on Google mail, sucks to be on anyone else’s.

  6. b612markt says:

    Google is my friend. I abandoned Yahoo years ago and never looked back. I think one or two spams get through to my gmail account per week – I can live with that.

  7. NefariousNewt says:

    I don’t get spam in my Gmail inbox because I don’t give the address out to anyone save my closest friends and family… which means about 5-7 people have it. I don’t use it to sign up for things (if I can help it). But Google is fooling itself if it thinks spam is disappearing — spammers are just waiting to find a way past Google’s filters. Once they do, the flood will commence again.

  8. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    My gmail spam filters work pretty well — better than the filters on any of my other accounts.

    That said, if Google really thinks that spam is on the decline, I beg to differ. I’m even willing to wager some of my winnings from the Estonian Lottery.

  9. drjayphd says:

    Even though I’ve given out my Hotmail address a lot more, my Yahoo one gets more spam. Figure that one out.

  10. hoborg says:

    I don’t understand the point in most spam at all. Has anyone on earth actually bought drugs from an email that looks like 252dddddddddddddd sggsgsgsgsg buy v1agra lol here 66666666666? Maybe they’ve decided to take this time to learn english so that they can more properly spam?

  11. KJones says:

    The problem with spam is that more than a decade after the beginning of spam, most filters are STILL geared toward blocking email addresses (despite the fact that they are almost always forged) instead of blocking by keywords in the body of it.

    The blatantly obvious is just too much for some people.

  12. MercuryPDX says:

    In my experience:
    Gmail does a great job filtering spam. Second place goes to Hotmail, although I wish they’d up the limit on safe senders. Yahoo comes in dead last.

  13. mthrndr says:

    @hoborg: Yeah, I’ve never understood who buys that stuff either. I guess spam is predicated on the probability that if 50 million messages are sent out, at least 1/2 or 1% will get hits, making it therefore worthwhile.

  14. kenposan says:

    If you look at my gmail account, yes. If you look at my yahoo account, no.

  15. crazyflanger says:

    Why is there so much spam? I don’t know anyone who would ever take spam seriously. Isn’t it all a scam? Perscription? Mortgages? Meet women in your town that want sex tonight? What kind of person takes these emails seriously enough to look into them…or even more so…purchase a service or product? Someone has to do it or why would there still be spam?

    The only think I like about spam is how often I win the lottery in other countrys…or when embassadors what to pay me a large sum of money to help transfer funds from their country to ours….

    I’ve replied to those emails just to f**k with people. It is a lot of fun.

  16. yg17 says:

    Spam costs almost nothing to send out to millions of people. If one person is dumb enough to buy it, the spammers come out ahead.

  17. DrGirlfriend says:

    Did the Nigerians give up on their money transfer scam? I haven’t seen one of those in ages, not even when I peruse my Spam folder in Gmail.

    By the way, I agree that Gmail spam filters are the best out of any free web-based email I’ve ever tried. Hotmail, for instance, would junk my good email and let through spam to my Inbox. And yes, my settings were all configured correctly.

  18. Cowboys_fan says:

    Spammers, hackers, viruses, spyware, etc, are all like electricity in that they take the path of least resistance. So though they may not be getting through g-mail, they are getting through easier avenues and when those paths are tightened, they’ll go back to g-mail. If you don’t want spam, then don’t give away your email.

  19. hoborg says:

    @crazyflanger: “I’ve replied to those emails just to f**k with people. It is a lot of fun.”
    haha, me too. I’ve never gotten them to send me funny pictures like these guys do, though:


  20. fluiddruid says:

    Nigerian scams are alive and well, and apparently nearly unfiltered by Yahoo. I’ve never seen one in Gmail (my main account), but my abandoned-to-spam Yahoo account is chock full of ’em.

  21. I Will Not Stop Feeding My Fat Baby says:

    @MercuryPDX: With Yahoo, I have to check my spam folder because they often mark some of my legitimate incoming messages as spam!

  22. popeye_doyle says:

    I never get spam anymore. I foil the robots by writing my email address not as but to make it popeye_doyle(at)optonline dot com. I’m very careful to do that everywhere, and it has worked like a dream so far.

  23. DrGirlfriend says:

    re: “abandoned-to-spam” – I’ve had to go back to old Yahoo and Hotmail accounts on occasion to pull past emails, etc, and when I do those accounts have indeed been abandoned to spam. I’m always reminded of old ghost towns, or abandoned houses, left to looters and squatters. So sad.

  24. marsneedsrabbits says:

    Google has amazing filters and I’ve always been impressed with how responsive they are. On the rare occasions that things slip through to my inbox, I’ve noticed that within a few days (typically less), the folks at Google have adjusted their filters to change with the new stuff the spammers are sending.
    For a while, foreign language spam was getting through. but Google seems to have that beat now, because it all filters to the spam folder, too.
    Yahoo & Hotmail are a different story – I have all but abandoned my Hotmail account (log in once every 90 days to keep it active & mass-delete inbox-spam). Same with Yahoo.

  25. pestie says:

    @headon: Liar! If you had $2M, you wouldn’t need a big penis. As the saying goes, there’s no such thing as an ugly rich guy.

  26. Omir The Storyteller says:

    I like Gmail’s filters enough that I route all of my regular mail through them. When a piece of mail is sent to me at, it gets forwarded immediately to, which I use as a store-and-forwarding system for my real email address, It sounds geeky and I guess it is but I don’t have to maintain my own spam filters and my mail is just as secure as it would be if Gmail weren’t in the picture (which is to say, it’s like writing all of your postal mail on postcards).

  27. Omir The Storyteller says:

    @crazyflanger: Learn how to forge email addresses and send 419spammer#1 a note purportedly from 419spammer#2 telling them you’re interested in their money laundering scheme. Heh heh heh.

  28. lonelymaytagguy says:

    Not much gets through Gmail. I work for a company with about 200 email accounts and our ISP merged with a bunch of baffoons and we lost hundreds of incoming messages.

    We moved to Google Applications so our corporate mail is Gmail on our domain. Nobody gets spam. We’ll be getting our own mail server soon, and I dread what’s going to happen to our bandwidth when all the stuff Google’s been filtering out starts coming down the wire.

    On a related topic, have you ever noticed how many spam messages you get that make no sense. No product, service, or scam offers, no links, and a reply-to that points to an invalid address?

  29. jeff303 says:

    @OmirTheStoryteller: Actually that is genius. You are my hero. *rushes home to try it*

  30. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    My Gmail spam folder is full of V1agra, C1al1s, and Lev1tra crap.
    Also, there are constant spams for replica watches & 5-6 a day in German.
    Who the hell is stupid enough to open up an email where the subject is “wdsutr” or some similar made up idiocy?

  31. stuny says:

    Replies to some of the comments above:

    NEVER reply to spam messages. They don’t know your email address is real, they are just sending to every possible letter combination. IF you reply, they now know it is real. AND never click on any unsubscribe links from illegitimate emails either for the same reason.

    I signed up for a gmail account when it was first introduced, never sent any messages from it nor told anyone about it, yet it still receives spam.

    I have had Yahoo mail for 11 years and the spam filter is great. 1 or 2 a month get through. If you pay for premium email, you get ‘disposable’ addresses to help prevent spam too.

    I am guessing, but the popeye(at)optonline trick will eventually be programmed into the spam email collecting spiders.

    Another great trick: %20 is the HTML symbol for space. If you put your email on your website, include the %20 immediately before and after your email address. It will be captured by spiders and cause the email to fail, but individuals clicking on it, their email software will ignore it and it will get through safely.

  32. ElizabethD says:


    Ha ha ha ha ha! Pestie wins.

  33. Munsoned says:

    @stuartny: I agree. Not giving your email address out does not somehow make one “spam proof.” I also have a gmail account that I’ve never used. Current count: 340 spam messages in the “spam inbox”, 0 in my “real” inbox. At least the filter seems to work!

  34. Dennis says:

    I agree with everyone that says that GMail is great, I don’t think I could ask for a better email service/client (and the price is right too!). However, I don’t know that I agree with the fact that spammers are giving up – right now I have 1178 unread messages in my spam folder, which I almost always ignore, but I think that up until last year or so that folder always hovered under ~250 (messages in the the spam folder automatically get deleted after 30 days). Either way very very few (~2 – 3 in the past year) get into my inbox – thanks GOOGLE!!

  35. jcastle says:

    I don’t know what it us, but Google has been great with spam up until recently. I get a solid stream of spam all in Spanish in my inbox now. I actually set up a rule to dump any email with ¿ or ó etc to go into my spam box in Mail. The only spam that ever gets through, is always in Spanish.

  36. Calm Before The Storm

  37. ElJefe says:

    What are you talking about? What mainstream spam filter *doesn’t* use content fingerprinting?

  38. nardo218 says:

    Oh, good, issue them a *challenge*.

  39. jesserock says:

    Something with my gmail account that I don’t have with my Hotmail account (herein referred to as “spambox”) is when I flag something that does get through their remarkable filters, I never see it again. It’s super fun to get the same spam and mark it as spam and then get that spam one hundred more times Hotmail, srsly! I once thought that marking something as spam with Hotmail meant it got added to a filter after enough people reported it (?) but apparently that’s just a box like “sent” or “saved” only it gets cleared once in awhile automagically.

  40. Fizzle000 says:

    My non-google mailbox and ‘quarantine’ folder would disagree with Google’s findings… Just my 2¢