Too many false positives in Google spam filter

by Volker Weber

google mail

Today I found myself fetching 133 false positives out of 5953 messages in the spam filter. Which means, that Google Mail is broken for me. It may overlook the odd spam message but it should not put legit messages in the trash.


This is kind of weird.

I used to have a similar situation to yours with approx. 150/200 spam mails each day and a very few occasional false positives. Check this.

About one and half year later, my montly intake of spam has dropped by itself to a little over 1'000 with virtually no false positives.

Not sure how to explain such a different behaviour.

Pieterjan Lansbergen, 2007-07-18

Interesting timeline. I havn't had any spam getting through their spamfilter nor any false positives so far (at all), but starting yesterday 5 spam mails got thru the filter (all of them .PDF spam) at once. They probably started tweaking some filters on their end.
Hopefully soon for the better ;)

Thomas Gumz, 2007-07-19

Interesting. I don't even check for false positives in gmail, but I just went and checked and there were none. I wonder why?

Amy Blumenfield, 2007-07-19

Funny you should mention this. Mine has begun to do the same thing, starting about a week, week and a half ago. Not a good time, either, as I'm extremely busy at the moment. I'll let you know if mine changes character or tapers off anytime soon.

Garret P Vreeland, 2007-07-19

No false positives for me, either, but out of only 261.

Richard Schwartz, 2007-07-19

Maybe they are tweaking their architecture.
Google announced that they will purchase Postini.

"Google Inc. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Postini, a global leader in on-demand communications security and compliance solutions serving more than 35,000 businesses and 10 million users worldwide."

Brian Green, 2007-07-19

Yesterday and today I received the same PDF spam from over 50 times. No false positives.

Bruce Elgort, 2007-07-19

97.76% accuracy is not that great. Is that over a couple of days or one day? I guess they have been taken by surprise by the latest pdf spam. Current overall spam volume is way up in the last two days.

Sascha Siekmann, 2007-07-19

no false positives here, out of ~800. got about 5 false negatives in the last 6 months.

i still love gmail (and their spam filter)

Samuel Adam, 2007-07-19

Still have false positives with gmail. And Google still does not let me turn off its SPAM filter and use my own.

As far as I know Postinis technology IS actually the engine behind the gmail spam filter since a longer time.

Alexander Kluge, 2007-07-19

Google works fine for me. No false positives, just the regular phishing/Viagra/dating/sizing junk. 1und1 is throwing mails into the SPAM-filter, I have explicitly allowed to pass, but still it insists on seeing it as SPAM, though.

Armin Roth, 2007-07-19

Since you have drawn my attention to this matter, I have been checking more in detail my (huge) spambox.

It happens that all reports coming from my weblog comment spam filter, which are marked "Spam Karma 2", go strainght into the spam box, no kidding.
Not a big deal however, I have tried to restore these positives more than once in the past by selecting them as "no spam" but GMail doesn't seem to agree with my evaluation and stubbornly keeps trashing them.
I wonder if anybody else running a WordPress weblog protected with SK2 is having this issue.

It is to say, that given the amount of care Google has put into developing this higly sofisticated product, it's surprising we don't have any control on the filter it's self.

At least a on/off option should be mandatory.

Pieter Lansbergen, 2007-07-19

My mail volume is far less than many folks ...probably max of 50 a day in GMail ....nonetheless, I have started seeing one or two false positives in the spam bucket every day or so. This just started within the past week or two. So I've been checking the spam folder a couple of times a day, doing a quick scan through things I really didn't want to have to see :)

It's not a huge task for ME, just an inconvenience. For others with a much higher volume of mail, that would be a severe impact!

Joe Litton, 2007-07-20

I have all my mails forwarded from my ISP to Gmail, and fetch them with Apple Mail from the ISP not Gmail, so I can compare reliability. For me, the only thing that is more reliable than Gmail's filter is my local SpamSieve filter, with approximately two groups of 4 or 5 unrecognized spam messages (they always come in bundles, like last morning's PDFs). With either one, I sometimes get false positives only on the first account of a new mailing list or newsletters or whatever I subscribed to on a website. But after a first training (I normally expect these things and mark them as 'not spam', both filters recognize this kind of messages.

So, Volker, I see three possibilities:

1- you don't keep your contact list on Gmail updated

2- you subscribe to too much stuff that is not To: you.

3- your friends all sound like spam.


kai bernau, 2007-07-21

Google doesnT care at all if you do not use it. Ohhh....Big Ohhhhhhh

Why should they?? Google is the best and they are the good boys.

Martin Schneid, 2007-07-23

Further to above comments, a few weeks later I am experiencing a, possibly, even more weird behaviour.

I am hosting some domain services with Goggle and rely on them mostly for mail, mailing lists being one among them.

I have now several mailing lists being served flawlessly by Google however, in-spite of having them listed, a couple of entries in one such list regularly end into my spam box.
Seems like these (fairly innocent) addresses are black-listed by Google as the same is happening to other GMail users.
If I use a filter to retrieve these messages from my mailbox they do not show up so I have to search for them manually.
I have double checked and the sender's address is correct.

Doesn't really make much sense to me.

Pieter Lansbergen, 2007-09-05

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