4. Configuring SpamSpector

Right-click on SpamSpector's tray icon, then click on "Options". This will bring up the Options dialog, which allows you to configure SpamSpector to your personal needs.

In standard Windows fashion, it comprises several "panes". Just change what you want, and click "OK" to confirm.

"DNSBL Lists" pane

SpamSpector works by checking your mail against a number of "DNSBL" lists which list parts of the Internet that facilitate spamming. This pane allows you to choose which DNSBL lists you want to check your mail against.

The left-hand area lists the available DNSBL lists; those with a tick beside them are the ones you are currently using. Click on a list to toggle whether you are using it or not; where the checkbox is grayed out a list is subsumed inside another list that is already ticked, and thus will be used. As the mouse pointer moves over a list, information about it appears to the right; the list name, website (click on it to go to that website), and a short description. Each list also has a "Header Code", which is used to identify the list in the X-SpamSpector: header.

Different lists will have different characteristics. A couple of the more popular DNSBL services will have been selected by default, but feel free to experiment with other lists. If a list seems to aggressive and blocks too much legitimate email (because spam-friendly providers may well have non-spamming customers too!), you can just deselect it from the list.

Sometimes one DNSBL list incorporates all the data from another; in these cases, if the first DNSBL service is selected then the second will be grayed out in the list.

"Blacklist" pane

If you're getting lots of spam with the same email address in the "From" line, you can use the BlackList to have it automatically tagged by SpamSpector. Basically, the blacklist comprises email address, one per line; all email from one of those addresses will be tagged as spam. Blank lines are allowed in the blacklist, and you can add comments by starting them with a '#', so you can document what you put in your blacklist, e.g.:

# Porn spammer keeps emailing me
sexygirl@bigpornspammer.com
sexygirl2@bigpornspammer.com
sexyboy@bigpornspammer.com

# Chain letter pyramid scheme spammer
really_stupid_idiot@aol.com

You can also use an asterix * as a wildcard, which allows you to stop email with a given ISP in the From: line. For example:

# All I get from Hotmail is spam, so let's block it all!
*@hotmail.com

# And I don't know anyone with "sexy" in their email address
*sexy*

Of course, remember that the "From:" line in email messages can easily be forged. By clicking the button at the bottom of the pane, you can call up the Advanced Blacklist - this is similar to the normal blacklist, except it works on I.P. addresses and netblocks rather than email addresses. Like the DNSBL lists, any email from one of the machines on the advanced blacklist will be tagged as spam.

"Whitelist" pane

The Whitelist is the inverse of the Blacklist. It has the same format - one email addresses per line, comments starting with a '#', asterix characters as wildcards - except anything from an email address on the Whitelist will never be tagged as spam by SpamSpector. It's useful if you have a friend at an ISP that's in one of the DNSBL lists - just add them to your whitelist and their emails won't end up in your spamtrap folder! For example, you might decide "That James Farmer, he's a nice guy, he'll never send me spam" and add this to your whitelist:

# James Farmer won't ever send me spam
jjf@spampal.twinlobber.org.uk

Or alternatively you might think "I know lots of people at Hotmail and they never send me any spam" and add:

# Hotmail = nice people!
*@hotmail.com

Entries in the whitelist will override entries in the blacklist, so you could (for example) put *@hotmail.com in your blacklist and then add to your whitelist the individual email address of people you know at Hotmail.

The button at the bottom of this pane allows access to the Advanced Whitelist - again, this is like the inverse of the Advanced Blacklist; in it you list I.P. addresses and netblocks that should not be checked against any DNSBL lists.

"Auto-Whitelist" pane

The normal whitelist is all very well, but you still have to spend time adding people to it. Wouldn't it be nice if SpamSpector did this for you?

Indeed it would, and through the Automatic Whitelist now SpamSpector can! Email addresses get added to the automatic whitelist once they have sent you email on a certain number of days, so you can rest secure that people with whom you correspond regularly will almost never end up in your spamtrap folder.

Occaisionally, a spammer might forge the email address of someone who is in your auto-whitelist - for example, a colleague or an alternate email address or yours. While you don't want to put this person in your blacklist because they send you lots of genuine email, you don't want them to end up in your auto-whitelist and bypass SpamSpector's spam-checking features. Clicking on the Never Auto-Whitelist button at the bottom of the auto-whitelist options pane will bring up a window into which you can enter the email addresses of people who should never be added to the auto-whitelist. Just add your colleagues here and you won't have to worry about spammers forging their addresses to bypass SpamSpector's filtering. You can even add your entire employer's domain - e.g. *@acme-widgets.com - if you want!

There is also an automatic whitelist of I.P. addresses from which you have received email on several days; this serves a similar function to the automatic whitelist of email addresses, but can be useful to prevent any discussion mailing lists you're on getting mistaken for spam if their host ends up in a DNSBL list.

"Tagging" pane

By default SpamSpector will add two things to any messages that it thinks might be spam:

  • The "X-SpamSpector: SPAM" header
  • The string "**SPAM**" to the start of the subject line

Using the options in this pane, you can disable the second of these tags, or change it to some other string of letters. Alternatively, you could choose to mark the subject lines with a duplicate of the X-SpamSpector: header.

"Interface" pane

Using this pane you can modify how SpamSpector's GUI works; for example, you can change which window appears when you click on the tray icon with the left mouse button, or make the status window appear automatically whilst SpamSpector is active.

Every so often, SpamSpector will check back with the SpamSpector website to see if there's a new version of the program available, and to download an updated list of DNSBL services. This pane also allows you to control this process, by specifying how often each check takes place, and whether you'd like a window to open to inform you when they're happening.

"Servers" pane

This pane allows you to control the port your mail program uses to communicate with SpamSpector. You can almost always leave this on the value set by SpamSpector and worry about it not at all.

This pane also contains an option to suppress connection error messages. This is useful if you have an email client that checks your mail regularly, and tries to check even when you are offline, which can lead to SpamSpector or your mail program reporting errors because it is understandably not able to find a mail server if you aren't connected to the Internet. Thedownside is that if your ISP's mailserver really is broken, you won't know about it.

The drop-box at the bottom of this pane should be left on "Mailservers specified in POP3 usernames"; it's only there to allow for compatability with early version of SpamSpector. See Old-Style Server Configuration for more information on this.

"Plug-ins" pane

You can add extra spam-filtering capabilities to SpamSpector by installing Plug-ins. You can obtain plugins from the SpamSpector website; install them in the "plugins" directory within the SpamSpector installation and they will appear on this pane, but you will have to click on them and then click "Enable/Disable" to enable them before they will work.

"Advanced" pane

The final tabbed pane enables you to alter various "advanced" options that most users will have no use for. These are described in Appendix A: Advanced Configuration.

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