Gmail Reports Why Mails Have Been Rated As Spam

Martin Brinkmann
Mar 20, 2012
Email, Gmail, Google

Like many other email providers, Gmail is using anti-spam technologies to filter out spam messages automatically. These spam messages are then moved into the spam folder, and not into the mail inbox. That's beneficial to the user, as it reduces the time it takes to go through all incoming emails.

Gmail's automated spam filter is relatively thorough when it comes to identifying spam messages. It can happen nevertheless that legit mail is identified as spam. That's why many users look into the spam folder of their email account regularly to make sure that they did not miss an important message.

The spam folder lists all recent emails that have been identified as spam. Messages in the spam folder are kept there for 30 days, before they are automatically deleted by Gmail.

Up until now there was no way to find out why an email had been moved into the spam folder. While that may have been obvious for some messages that tried to sell you the latest drugs, it may have not been that obvious for others.

Google has just announced a change that makes the process more transparent to the user. Each spam message is now displaying a "Why is this message in Spam" box that explains why the selected email has been moved into the spam folder.

You may encounter the following messages:

  • Be careful with this message. It might contain a virus or a malicious link
  • You previously marked messages from [email address] as spam
  • It's similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters

It is likely that additional messages may be used by Gmail to inform users about the reasons for moving messages to the spam folder. The service is backwards compatible, which means that all messages currently in a Gmail user's spam folder should show the indication at the top.

It needs to be noted that this works only on the official Gmail website, and not if you are using a third party client. You can read the official announcement over at the official Gmail blog.


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  1. Jeremy said on March 21, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    I agree with Virtualguy. Of the various email systems I have used, the spam filters with Gmail are very effective. It has been my experience that it is very rare for a false positive to occur, and I have yet to see it miss a piece of spam.

  2. Virtualguy said on March 21, 2012 at 6:59 am

    The Gmail spam filters are damn near perfect, it seems to me. Very effective.

  3. Nebulus said on March 20, 2012 at 2:21 pm

    I don’t use Gmail, but I think it’s a good idea. As for the whole spam thing, I prefer to sort my own emails according to my own rules, and not by some obscure rule decided by an email provider. So I try to disable all the spam filters for all the email providers I use.

  4. ilev said on March 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Nice move.

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