In this article I'd like to cover 2 areas. When is an email SPAM ? and What can you do about it ?
I recently spent an hour or so on the phone with a web host discussing when is an email spam and they explained the following to me.
It is a very grey area, we discussed the obvious like all of the gambling, phishing, pharmacy etc. that's going around, but then we got onto subjects like link exchanges, genuine business propositions etc. The response back from the web host that any email will be regarded as spam if the recipient decides it is, if they report it as spam it will be treated as such and dealt with like that. This in fact means that if you decide that a newsletter or some such thing that you signed up for is SPAM the web host will treat it as such. Currently I must be getting about around 1500 a day, of what I regard as genuine spam, these also include the nasty responses from people who think I'm sending SPAM, when in fact it's some real spammers using fake headers that point to my server, even though the IP addresses don't match.
So what can you do ?
Well you can ignore it and just delete it each day, like the majority of the world, this isn't really a solution and likely means you spend hours each day ploughing through and at least looking at everyone.
You can report each one to the host where they appear to be coming from ...... Hmmm, also not very practical, you'd spend your whole life checking and reporting SPAM.
You can use a service like SPAMARREST, this has proved very effective for us, and way better than any SPAM filter on a mail box. What this does is it retrieves your emails from your mail box, if they are on your allowed this it automatically posts them through to you, if they are not it send another email asking the person to enter a code, basically confirming that they are a real person. Most people don't mind this and will just enter the code, the email is then forwarded to you. What this does do is quarantines the emails where people don't confirm, if doesn't delete them, you can go back and eyeball them if you want to. This does in fact ensure that you get to see the emails that are important and sent by a real person or the people that on your allowed list, not perfect, but much better than the excessive number of emails we are all receiving everyday.