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MSU works to help students reduce spam

August 15, 2010

Although MSU e-mail has become one of the most popular forms of electronic communication for many students and professors on campus, it always has been a service susceptible to junk.

Each day, MSU’s Academic Technology Services, or ATS, mail system blocks about 400,000 junk mail — or spam — messages from reaching users’ mailboxes, ATS Communications Manager Katherine Ball said in an e-mail.

And with each passing day, the system processes about 1 million messages that have been sent or received, a majority of which are spam messages.

In an attempt to reduce the spam count and give students and staff new customizations, Ball said.

Additional features were added to the system this month, allowing people to change how they would like their spam before it reaches their inbox — deleted or filtered away, she said.

“MSU uses e-mail as one of several means of communication with students, faculty and staff,” Ball said. “(Features were added) to give users greater control over how spam is processed.”

Users now are able to set if they would like the service at to place junk mail in a user designated folder or not seen at all under “MSU Prefs.”

The service, SpamAssassin, filters the mail automatically and delivers the message directly to the user’s inbox. In addition, changes will take effect regardless of the e-mail service used, she said.

Although many users would like to see spam vanished completely, it might not be feasible, Ball said.

Charles Ballard, an economics professor at MSU, said he frequently uses the university’s e-mail service and noticed years ago many did not build their whole lives around the service as they do now.

Although, as with any modern technology service, it does not come without complaints, he said.

“There are those pluses and minuses,” Ballard said. “The spam is a pain, (but) on the other hand, you don’t have to play telephone tag with somebody (and) you don’t have to send something by regular mail and wait days or weeks for a response.”

Lyman Briggs sophomore Emily Bassman said during her first year of using MSU Mail she has not spent a large amount of her time deleting junk messages.

Used mostly for work and professional purposes, sorting through mail is not an issue, she said.

“I really don’t see spam as a huge problem,” Bassman said. “(Spam) sucks. I don’t normally open e-mails from people I don’t know anyway — that helps so no one can steal my address.”

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