A suggestion for Google to fight spammers
The focus of this suggestion is that Gmail is losing value for all of us as it becomes spam soaked. Even their filtering is having troubles with false positives and false negatives--and the spam is just increasing--as always. Therefore I think Google should act more aggressively to drive the spammers away from Gmail.
My latest anti-spam idea is a SuperReport option. (Kind of like SpamCop, but not so lazy and laid back.) If you click on the SuperReport option, Gmail would explode the spam and try to analyze it for you to help go after the spammers more aggressively. The result would be returned to your browser as a webform of the expanded email to guide a more direct response to the spam. Here is one approach to implementing it:
The first pass analysis would be a low-cost quickie that would also act like a kind of CAPTCHA. This would just be an automated pass looking for obvious patterns like email addresses and URLs. The email would then be exploded and shown to the person making the report (= the targeted recipient of the spam AKA harassment victim). The thoughtful responses for the second pass would guide the system in going after the spammers--making Gmail a *VERY* hostile environment for spammers to the point that they would stop spamming Gmail.
For example, if the first pass analysis finds an email address in the header, the exploded options might be "Obvious fake, ignore", "Plausible fake used to improve delivery", "Apparently valid drop address for replies", "Possible Joe job", and "Other". (Of course there should be pop-up explanations for help, which would be easy if it's done as a radio button. Also, Google always needs to allow for "Other" because the spammers are so damn innovative. In the "Other" case, the second pass should call for an explanation of why it is "Other".)
If the first pass analysis finds a URL, the exploded options should be things like "Drugs", "Stock scam", "Software piracy", "Loan scam", "419 scam", "Prostitution", "Fake merchandise", "Reputation theft", "Possible Joe job", and "Other". I think URLs should include a second radio button for "Registered Domain" (default), "Redirection", "Possible redirection", "Dynamic DNS routing", and "Other". (Or perhaps that would be another second-pass option?)
If the first pass finds an email address in the body, the exploded options should include things like "Fake opt-out for address harvester", "419 reply path", "Joe job", and "Other".
At the bottom of the expanded first pass analysis there should be some general options about the kind of spam and suggested countermeasures, and the submit SuperReport button. This would trigger the heavier second pass where Gmail's system would take these detailed results of the human analysis of the spam and use them to really go after the spammers in a more serious way. Some of the second pass stuff should come back to the person who received the spam for confirmation of the suggested countermeasures.
Going beyond that? I think Gmail should also rate the spam reporters on their spam-fighting skills, and figure out how smart they are when they are analyzing the spam. I actually want to earn a "Spam Fighter First Class" merit badge!
If you agree with these ideas--or have better ones, I suggest you try to call them to Google's attention. Google still seems to be an innovative and responsive company--and they claim they want to fight evil, too. More so if many people write to them? (I even think they recently implemented one of my suggestions to improve the Groups... However, it doesn't matter who gets credit--what matters is annoying the spammers more than they annoy us.)