Google's Real Product

I just read something interesting on a message board written by someone in the tech industry. To paraphrase,

Millions of companies existed before Google whose entire purpose was to create spam. Google is largely responsible for a spam free internet. In fact, that's Google's real product: a spam free internet.

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Gmail catches spam

I have twice attempted to switch from gmail to another email system, for one reason or another (e.g. a review from one of the increasingly clueless pc magazines), but aborted the switch after noticing that the spam filter was not catching nearly enough spam. (I have a long-established address that redirects, so the exact same stream of mail gets forwarded to both gmail and the competitor, so the two systems receive an identical stream of mail.)

Ahh

There are many ways to avoid spam... use a provider not used by 90% of people, don't write your email on the internet, use a greylisting mechanism, place decent antispam filters... gmail is not better than other systems.

It's a great app though, I use gmail because it's a good online app with a nice message grouping feature.

I think *the* missing feature in gmail is the use of trainable bayesian filters to automatically label emails.

Don't work

Admittedly I started using email relatively recently - 1990, 18 years ago, to talk cheaply with my friends and family. So I haven't been at this as long as some folks. But in those few years I have tried a lot of methods to limit spam (which was not, of course, a problem in the early years) and I have never found anything - after the spam explosion - that took care of it as well as the spam filtering that gmail uses. And I have bounced around a lot, had a lot of email accounts, tried a lot of approaches over these short years.

place decent antispam filters

You propose placing decent antispam filters as an alternative to gmail's antispam filtering. But what name do you apply to gmail's process of filtering out spam? I would call it, by definition, an antispam filter, and a decent one.

use a provider not used by 90% of people

My current email domain name is a domain name registered by me, and it has only one user. (and no, I am not a victim of domain name scraping - never mind the details) While I do have a web hosting service, I highly doubt that they are responsible for any spam that I get. So how, you ask, do I manage to get spam?

don't write your email on the internet

No kidding. But guess what. I have friends, and these friends are not all uber-geeks, and they send me things by submitting my email address to websites. Stuff like electronic cards. They don't know any better. So a lot of websites know my email address. I would be very surprised if I did not get spam - and I get spam (which is filtered out).

use a greylisting mechanism

That's a new one to me, but the writeup at Wikipedia is concerning. Anyway, while in theory I could implement anything I wanted to spam filter my email, the truth is I want somebody else to worry about it. Gone are the days when I wanted to play unix administrator to myself. I use procmail for a whitelist of special addresses that get forwarded to my cell phone, and that's as much as I care to do my own tinkering.

 

You propose placing decent

You propose placing decent antispam filters as an alternative to
gmail's antispam filtering. But what name do you apply to gmail's
process of filtering out spam? I would call it, by definition, an
antispam filter, and a decent one.

It's not going to be as effective as one that is taylored to the kind of spam you receive.

No kidding. But guess what. I have friends, and these friends are
not all uber-geeks, and they send me things by submitting my email
address to websites. Stuff like electronic cards. They don't know any
better.

Yell at them. Or create revokable email adress. When I had a domain name, any adress would be forwarded to the same box, but I still got to see which adress it was sent to. When registering on a website I'd use an email such as arthurb_website@.... (it works on gmail btw). When I gave my adress to people, I'd include their name as an _. Whenever I got spam it was easy to find the leak, block the adress and give the person a new adress to use as well as a warning.

Now gmail is great, and I use it all the time, but to me the antispam feature was on par with what I was used to, not better not worse. Now, I haven't been using email as long as you have (and you did a poor job hiding the bragging... if it was your intent, you may have been sarcastic, anyway you definitely deserve bragging rights) but spam has never really been a concern. Actually if it was not for it, I wouldn't have a 25 inches dick nor would I have made millions from money transaction in Nigeria.

 

Gmail essentially flawless

The method you describe is cumbersome. Gmail has in effect made me completely forget about spam as an issue. I am only thinking about it now because the blog entry brought it up. Spam is already gone from my life, with no effort on my part. It was always an issue and I tried one approach after another, until gmail. Now it's a non-problem. Giving me new ways to get rid of spam is like giving me advice on how to deal with a bad relationship which has been over for years.

I'm sure but I don't really

I'm sure but I don't really think about spam either. Using multiple email adress is a reflex, I just do it automatically, even with gmail. Every experience is different, and I'm glad gmail changed your life in regards to spam, but I just wanted to point out it hasn't really changed mine on that front.

I interpret the comment as far wider than gmail

Before Google, people would fill their webpages with popular search terms like "Britney" or "2girls1cup", hide them in background-colored font, etc even if their webpage was really devoted to John Tesh. This was spam. Companies were created whose sole purpose was to exploit poor search algorithms in this manner. Google's Search forced this to come to a grinding halt because their algorithm was light-years smarter than anyone else's. They, in the quoted person's words, made a spam-free internet. Even based on just that, their market valuation may be justified.

So do I

I know it was meant widely. However, the only useful additional bit of information that I could come up with related to my gmail experiences.

Honestly. I just don't think

Honestly. I just don't think so. There are a tremendous amount of splogs whose business model solely rely on google. Sure google algorithm is better and is not fooled by simple tricks, but SEO still do wonders. Besides, although the search engines where spammed a great deal of traffic went through site directories.

As for its market valuation, my opinion (which is not that of my employers, yadayada) is that it might be overblown a bit as it ignores a small but serious risk of being replaced by a competitor. History has shown that the brand value of Yahoo had been largely overestimated, there was less brand fidelity on the internet. A search engine can be very sensitive to competition because it doesn't have a network effect. The only thing keeping google on top are superior search result and brand name. Of course it's definitely an advantage, but it's not such a high barrier. A competitor could get 10% of google's traffic, then 15, 30... the same could not happen that easily for ebay for example. Although I think Google's value is mosty probably right, I believe it may underestimates that risk.