Yahoo! Mail’s Crappy Spam Filter

…or “how I learned to stop fighting spam and love GMail”.

My itchy keyboard was nudged by a recent comment on my old Yahoo! Mail Beta review post. If you’ve been reading for a while you’ll remember that I was a huge fan of Oddpost, to the point of continuing to use Oddpost despite their Internet-Explorer-only limitation. So when Oddpost was bought by Yahoo!, I waited eagerly for the next iteration of all-singing, all-dancing webmail that would run on Firefox.

Along came the Yahoo! Mail Beta, designed and built by the Oddpost guys, and implemented very, very nicely. I switched happily from Oddpost to Yahoo!, and enjoyed my newfound ability to use Firefox for webmail. For a short time. Then came the spam. Honestly, I don’t know who wrote the spam filter system for Yahoo! Mail, but if I had to hazard a guess, I’d say they are schizophrenic. Some interesting behaviour from the Yahoo! spam filter included:

  • Seemingly identical spams would arrive, one being sent to spam purgatory, and the other arriving happily in my inbox.
  • I’d get three mailing list replies from an email that was in my contacts folder, two of which would be marked as spam.
  • Purchase notifications from eBay or some online store would be spanked straight to spam

(As an aside, I have to say that I had none of these problems on Oddpost, so I’m guessing the Oddpost developers were told to retrofit the existing Yahoo! spam filter into the new interface.)

Through serendipity (or perhaps my subconcious seeking a way out of spam hell), I recently stumbled across the fact that GMail has a nice slick way of dealing with multiple email accounts. Sure I knew you could do filtering and labelling, but I didn’t realise how slick the options were for receiving email from multiple accounts and modifying the way you reply to them. Once you have confirmed with GMail that you infact own the email account(s) that GMail will manage, you have full control on how to manage them. For example you can tell GMail to reply to a message using the address that it was originally sent to. This means that although I use [private]@gmail.com as my primary mail management interface, people who send mail to [private]@oddpost.com have no idea, they just send email to and receive replies from [private]@oddpost.com. Simple, but effective.

Couple this with GMail’s slick mobile interface, massive storage, and excellent anti-spam system, and I’m now a convert. Late to the table sure, but I’m not going back to Yahoo! for love or money. Sorry Oddpost guys. Hope you’ve invested your buyout proceeds elsewhere.

Farewell Oddpost

The inevitable Oddpost shutdown email has arrived. Oddpost is going offline as of 30th March 2006. Everything is switching over to the new Yahoo mail beta built by the Oddpost guys. Finally I can ditch Internet Explorer!

I’m a bit gutted that Oddpost users were promised free Yahoo Premium accounts, but the reality is one year of free Yahoo Premium, and US$20 per year thereafter. A bit of a gyp, but I guess I was paying for Oddpost before they got acquired anyway, and I can go free if I’m happy with ads (which I’m not). Given that Yahoo doesn’t offer IMAP even for premium users, I might seriously consider alternatives after a year.

The latest update to the Yahoo Beta has brought with it even more slickness (slickality?), and I truly believe that Oddpost-based Yahoo Mail kicks Gmail all over the park. It depends on how you prefer to work, but Yahoo mail’s drag-n-drop, multi-window, asynchronous interface is a delight to work with. They stick with the folder paradigm instead of Gmail’s labels, but the reality is very similar – a list of folders/labels on the left side, with filters to shift stuff into folders automatically. I’d even say that Yahoo’s folders are implemented better, because you can simply drag a message into a folder, rather than having to tick it then select ‘apply label’ from a dropdown.

Gmail Broken?

Gmail appears to be majorly broken at the moment. Normally I wouldn’t think much of it, but it has been down for hours and seems lots of users are having the same issues. This appears to be a biggie.

Hopefully this post will be useful to people like me who search Bloglines and Technorati to see if “it is just me”.

Or perhaps the world is ending?

Update: and of course the second I make this post, it comes up again. Sky not falling, cats and dogs fighting as per usual. Nothing to see here.

Yahoo Mail Beta Review

YMail BetaOk so I’m in. As an Oddpost user, I’ve got an account with access to Yahoo!’s new mail beta. Click the image at right for a screenshot showing an interactive drag-n-drop of a message into a different folder. You can’t see the cursor, but the little green tick changes to a cross when you can’t drop the message.

Initial thoughts: the implementation is just as slick as Oddpost, with full drag-and-drop email management, right-click menus, and asynchronous updates. The most amazing thing is that it works equally well in IE and Firefox. As someone who dabbles in websites with a fraction of DHTML behaviour, I can understand the miracle that they have pulled off here.

There’s a few funky differences to the way that Oddpost works, the main one being that Yahoo! Mail does not spawn a new window when you log in. This is a Good Thing, because you still have access to your regular browser menus, back-forward behaviour, etc. They’ve managed the multi-window behaviour in a very slick way too. The image below shows what happens when you double-click a message to open it: you get a pseudo-window using tabs. Flicking back and forth between the folder and message is nice and quick. I presume they’ve used iframes or something.
Ymail multipanes
The one thing I don’t like is the super cartoony colourful icons and interface. But I guess the kids love that sort of stuff these days.

I’m still discovering the features and behaviours, and will update anything particularly interesting as I stumble across it. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll attempt to answer them.

More screenshots after the jump.
Continue reading “Yahoo Mail Beta Review”

Yahoo!/Oddpost mail Beta

I’ve been using Oddpost as my main webmail client for a couple of years now, and it was with trepidation that I reported the sale of Oddpost to Yahoo a while back. The Oddpost experience is a bittersweet one: Oddpost supports a fantastic DHTML interface that puts GMail to shame, but it only runs in Internet Explorer. Heck Oddpost is the only reason I use IE these days.

So today I got the email I’ve been anticipating for months:

[quote]

As you may have already heard, Oddpost was acquired by Yahoo! last year. Since then we’ve been cranking away on a new version of Yahoo! Mail, and we’re just about ready to show it to you and hear what you think.

[/quote]

Top stuff! My main hope is that it will work in Firefox (I can’t imagine it not doing so). As soon as I get my access I’ll report my findings.