…I’ve today added a challenge-response to my personal e-mail. I could never do this at work, but personally I get e-mail that’s overwhelmingly spam. I’ve actually lost quite a bit of stuff in my mailbox because I couldn’t find it through all the spam.
The system I chose is not new, it’s called spamarrest, and was mentioned recently by John Battelle. I investigated and found it did exactly what I needed. I took my personal server and told it to sit on all incoming e-mail, instead of forwarding it to me. Then I set up SpamArrest to login to my server, pickup my e-mail, and then put it in "e-mail jail" if I haven’t approved the sender.
While in jail, the sender gets an e-mail back (that I customized) with a challenge that resembles those "wavy letters" you see all over the web when signing up for something new. If you do fill it out correctly, your mail gets through and you get pre-authorized forever (or until I ban you). If you don’t, your e-mail stays in quarantine (in jail). I can browse all the held e-mail in case I really need something as well.
It’s a good system, but I’m dreading the problems it’s going to cause my parents, who aren’t going to be able to fill out the challenge-response. What’s funny is that for years science fiction writers have talked about how we’ll all have agents screening our incoming communications for us.
Well, this is it. Now I just have to teach it to automatically RSVP for poker games for me…