David Madore's WebLog: Email stats

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(Friday) · Last Quarter

Email stats

I just did a stat of my last two weeks of email. It's a bit frightening: I received

  • 2313 emails total, of which
  • 931 spams caught by SpamAssassin,
  • 661 spams not caught by SpamAssassin but caught by SpamProbe (which runs after it),
  • 13 spams not filtered, and
  • 708 ham (non-spam) emails.

Omitting spam, I got:

  • 708 ham (non-spam) emails, of which
  • 552 coming from various mailing-lists, collective email aliases of various kinds, and similar sources,
  • 29 viruses (effective only under Windows, of course, so not concerning me, but which I still get; actually, some may have been counted as spam above),
  • 37 emails from various demons or automatic processes,
  • 4 emails not belonging to any other category, and
  • 86 “genuine” personal emails.

This means that I got an average of above 165 emails per day, or about one every 9 minutes, that 70% was spam (leaving around 51 hams a day, something around one every half-hour), and only 3.7% was “genuine” personal email (which makes around 6 a day).

The spam situation is pretty much under control, though at a high cost: having both SpamAssassin and SpamProbe filter my emails is computationally intensive (and also requires a lot of disk space for word databases). But 13 non-filtered spams in two weeks is bearable.

What worries me more is the 552 emails from various mailing-lists. Of course, most of them I only read the subject header of, and immediately sort them in the appropriate mailbox (I could do this automatically, but then I know I would never read them). But it still takes time, and this makes me think that I should try unsubscribing to some of these mailing-lists, insofar as I can. (I can't, of course, unsubscribe to my lab's collective email alias, because important information might come through that channel; unfortunately, most of these aliases are of the same kind.)

I'm afraid the invention of email has vastly increased the amount of information which any given individual has to triage. I'd need a private secretary to take care of doing that work, but I can't afford one.

(Incidentally, this rant is not an attempt to discourage anyone from emailing me: as long as you email me specifically, at david[plus]www[at sign]madore[dot]org, you're counted among the “genuine” personal emails, and I don't really get too much of that. The reason I have this strong tendency not to reply is more complicated than just a question of quantity, maybe I'll try to explain it some other time.)

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