In Austin, Minnesota and Korea, the majority of people probably believe Spam from Hormel Foods is a good thing. Although some of us may disagree with them on that point, we’re all likely to agree that the other form of spam isn’t a good thing.

To cure email spam, we’ve been looking for the ultimate solution, defined as low-cost, error-free spam management with the potential to wreak havoc on the sendors, or at least throw them off our trail. To this end, we’ve been using Spam Bully ($30 /14-day free trial) for about a week now and it’s been remarkably effective.

Upon installation, Spam Bully will make a couple of folders in your Outlook, or Outlook Express, and name them Spam and Unsure. (We are testing Spam Bully with Outlook 2003. Moreover, our environment is one in which there is no anti-spam hardware appliance on the perimeter. Thus, software solutions, such as Spam Bully, can play a significant role here.)

Spam Bully will then ask you to tell it what email in your email clients is spam and what email is good. Subsequently, you can tell Spam Bully that individual emails are good or bad, by right clicking on the email and choosing “Learn as Good” or “Learn as Spam.”

Spam Bully has a number of powerful tools that you can use to learn more about your spam, or to punish, or throw the spammers off your sent. You can set up Spam Bully to send an auto-reply to spam that looks as if your email address is invalid. Further, you can send a user-specified amount of emails to the ISPs through which the spam travelled notifying them of the spam. Spam Bully will even provide you with statistics as to where your spam is coming from, both country or IP address, and how accurate the program has been.

After you’ve taught Spam Bully a thing or two particular to your spam problem, it automatically sends emails to the Spam folder it created. From Friday until Monday, Spam Bully identified more than 40 emails correctly as spam and sent them to the proper place. It only missed one piece of spam.
Over the last six or seven days, Spam Bully has identified a few false positives, sending good emails to the Spam folder. I’ve rescued these by telling Spam Bully to “Learn as Good.” The first one that Spam Bully identified as spam had been sent to multiple recipients. The second was an automatically generated email sent from the Accounting Department.

My motto is usually if you can find something that does the job as well for less, use it. To that end, I don’t envision ponying up $30 for Spam Bully, even though I see it does a good job in an important role. I’m going to give SpamBayes a try, first. SpamBayes was recommended by a Microsoft MVP on one of their discussion boards. [Here’s our review of SpamBayes.]

(By the way, for you Monty Python fans, here’s the transcript with Windows Media Player version of the song. And the transcript with the entire skit on Real Player Audio. )