Live Spam FREE. Use Challenge Response.

I have seen the light and boy does it feel good. Spam no longer goes to my inbox.
For the past several years, I have suffered, along with the rest of the world, with a flood of spam – hundreds per day.
I have used my email provider Earthlink’s anti-spam tools but they have limited options and do not work that well.
The highest anti-spam setting blocks all email and issues a challenge to all senders. Earthlink’s solution did not work well and I was not confident that each email senders was receiving an automatic message from Earthlink asking them to validate that they are a person who wanted to email me and not a bulk, automated, spam program. I had to vigilantly go online and dig through hundreds of messages and pick out which ones to let through. This was a pain. Earthlink’s anti-spam method was inefficient, at best, so I let all email back in – including hundreds of spam messages per day. Earthlink has a “medium” anti-spam setting from BrightMail, which I use. It tries its best to determine what messages are spam and block them, but it does not work all that well as my spam intake WAS still quite substantive
“Challenge / Response systems”, treat every email as “bad” or as spam, unless otherwise proven to be “ok”. To be “ok”, the email receiver must indicate that it is ok or a human (the email sender) must respond to a challenge.
If you send an email to me, now that I am using Digi Portal’s Choicemail, and you are not in my approved list, you get an automatic email response, asking you to click on a link.
This link takes you to a web site where you can enter your email address, reason for contacting me and type in a code. This last part, of asking for a random set of characters to be typed, ensures sophisticated spammer tools are not automatically adding themselves to your “good” email list.
Email newsletters and other machine generated emails will get caught in the spam blocking tool and obviously can not respond to the challenge. To get around this you’ll have to monitor your email for a few weeks to ensure all your newsletters and other similar email are in your approved email lists. Choice Mail comes with “virtual” email addresses you can use for one time online use. Maybe you need an email confirmation for a purchase or airline ticket but don’t want to give out your day to day email address.
For a long time I’ve been against this challenge / response system as I’ve felt that it was too high of a hurdle to make people who send you email respond to. But I was wrong.
1. It only takes a few seconds to respond to the challenge
2. Those who want to reach you will do this extra step and understand that spam is a major problem that you need a solution for
3. You can always go through your anti-spam tool to manually accept any email that did not get through.
There is a period of “training” needed for the anti-spam program, especially to indicate what newsletters and other machine generated email are “ok” but this is a small price to pay to ensure you get NO spam.
Now that Digi Portal’s Choice Mail is scanning all my email I get no spam. Choice Mail acts as a person email server and it first scans all your. Your email client then gets email from Choice Mail. This is NOT a hosted application but a program that resides right on your computer system.
Choice mail is VERY powerful and feature rich, with plenty of flexible options. You can have multiple outgoing mail servers and change them quickly and easily. This was an added benefit that I like a lot. If you move from network to network – maybe work, to home, to hotel, to dial-up – you might have to use different outgoing email servers. Choice Mail let’s you switch easily with two clicks.
You can set up rules that determine which email does or does not get through. For example, maybe you do not know who will send you email asking for directions to your company. But you do know that if they email you via a form on you web site all the emails will have a subject line reading “Map Information”. You can have a rule that lets all email with the subject line “Map Information” into your in-box.
Some may complain that since ChoiceMail does not integrate with an email client, this causes double work. It might be, but once Choice Mail is setup and trained I found it works just fine. I do occasionally look at the blocked spam to ensure email that email that should get through is not blocked – remember technology is not perfect.
One minor problem with Choice Mail s that it clearly came from “engineers”. The front end is very technical looking with many menus and mouse clicks – not so intuitive. I hope in future versions the interface is designed more intuitive and easier to use.
However, once you take a few minutes to go through the user manual and play around with Choice Mail a bit – you’ll be fine.
If most email is spam, over 90% in fact, it makes sense to block ALL email and discretely let in the small percent that is good email. This solution is better than letting in all email and trying to block the 90%+ that is spam.
Another side benefit of challenging all messages is you get less viruses and phishing attacks via email. Most all online scam messages trying to get you to give your password to a bogus bank web site or something happen via email spam.
Keeping your email box clean and only allowing email that YOU want does not just save you time but also enhances your security.
While many products spend all their time trying to figure out what is spam and what is not via complex computer algorithms, why not just block all email and let in what you want? You can try Choice Mail for free at


About Ramon Ray

Ramon Ray, Marketing & Technology Evangelist, & Infusionsoft. Full bio at . Check him out on Google Plus, Twitter or Facebook