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Taming the Inbox - Follow-up

I have gotten some feedback about my Taming My Inbox post and thought I’d clarify a few points. The questions were understandable because I glossed over a few items that can cause some head-scratching when you start digging into the details.

First off, Sanebox is awesome and you should sign up. Their staff and tech support is really great and recently helped me solve a problem that was a thoroughly boneheaded move on my part. I don’t have it fully integrated with Boxer but it’s still working really well for me. The Boxer team was responsive and they’re helping resolve my questions and @andreweye, the Founder and CEO of Boxer, responded on Twitter that they’d be putting together some video demos to explain how to best utilize the features down the road. That’s great news.

Spam collection seems to be doing a lot better on Fastmail over the last couple of days. I think the Bayes training just needed some more time1. I have been feeding it emails and it has gotten better and better. While Sanebox does a great job of wrangling email, there’s no harm in running your spam filtering as well.

I took a few steps to get spam filtering optimized on Fastmail from my iPhone (or anywhere other than my web browser). First, I set up two IMAP folders called “TrainSpam” and “TrainGood”. In the Fastmail settings, you set them up as training folders by going into the Advanced settings for Folders. Click on “edit” for those folders and set them up like this:

When a piece of spam makes its way into your inbox (which is rare with Sanebox), you can move it to the “TrainSpam” folder. The same goes for something that got inadvertently spam-filtered – move it to “TrainGood”. Every 24 hours, Fastmail will scan these folders and train your personal Bayes database.

If I had started using Sanebox prior to starting this process, I’m not so sure that I’d be putting in this effort since Sanebox has a folder called +SaneBlackhole. This folder is the place that is used to banish email which works in a more intelligent way than a straight-up spam filter.

I am actually preferring the +SaneBlackhole method these days for a very specific reason. When you sign up for things, it is a tacit agreement that you actually want them. If you get tired of receiving those emails, your choice is to unsubscribe, keep deleting them or mark them as spam so they get filtered out for you. The last option is suboptimal because people (and companies) put work and time those newsletters and, in some cases, rely on them for revenue. By marking them as spam, it may affect their livelihood as email servers start blacklisting their domains. That’s why I like +SaneBlackhole as a solution for that. From the Sanebox website:

When you place an email into @SaneBlackHole, all current and future emails from that sender will be sent directly into your Trash mailbox. This is a great feature if you don’t want to bother unsubscribing from a newsletter or no longer wish to see emails from a particular person.

@SaneBlackHole is not for SPAM or Junk Mail. It is meant to be used for legitimate email from people or services that you don’t want to see anymore. Please put any SPAM that you find in your Sane folders into your SPAM or Junk folder folder.

It seems like a great solution that should work for everyone - the lazy and the fastidious alike.

Keep the feedback coming and I’ll answer questions as I’m able. We have a crazy month ahead and I’m going to be crushed for time over the next few weeks but I’ll do what I can. The best place to reach me is ADN or Twitter but…um… I guess email works too.


  1. I’m closing in on 400 spam emails in my Bayes database.