Outlook.com and Office 365 Spam Fighters program

Microsoft Spam Fighters program is actively working on a spam prevention program for Outlook.com and Office 365 services. You have probably heard about the SmartScreen feature that is used in Edge browsers on Windows 10. SmartScreen is a computer-learning algorithm that’s constantly adapting and learning for spam recognition. Along with spam, SmartScreen also protects your Windows machine against malware and viruses.

spam fighters

Image source: MSDN, Microsoft

A post on MSDN explains how this Spam Fighters program works. In order to SmartScreen work efficiently, it has to differentiate valid e-mails from spam. That’s where the Spam Fighters program steps in. A random number of Outlook.com users will be asked to volunteer in the Spam fighters program by flagging a random email from their inbox.

Invitations are randomly sent and sampled in order to get a good cross-section of users. If you agree to join, you will be asked once a day at max, to flag one of your emails as spam or non-spam. This will be a random email meant for you and you will be asked to decide if it is a spam or not by choosing one of the voting buttons.

Here’s how the algorithm ranks your answers:

  1. First, your choice of spam or non-spam is recorded for that particular message.
  2. Your choice is then compared to what the spam filter said for that message when it was scanned through the filter:.a) Did you say it was spam and the filter agreed? Then everything is goodb) Did you say it was non-spam and the filter agreed? Then everything is goodc) Did you say it was spam but the filter said it was non-spam? Then we have a false negative (missed spam)d) Did you say it was non-spam but the filter said it was spam? Then we have a false positive (good email classified as spam).
  3. Your vote is then compared against the votes of all other users receiving similar email. Does everyone overwhelmingly agree with you? Or disagree with you? Or are the votes split up?

Collected votes from volunteers of the Spam Fighters program are then combined and should help SmartScreen to learn from many parts of the message like sending IP, sending domains, authentication status, headers, the body of the message, attachments, encodings etc. You can’t opt-in for this program, as users will be selected randomly to vote on an email message.

By voting regularly, you will be helping Microsoft in spam prevention.

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