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"not all spam messages make it to your spam folder with any provider - the worst offenders are often just thrown out"

This is news to me. Citation needed?

Postini.com (Google), Forefront (Exchange), and Barracuda Networks are some products/vendors in the space - its a whole industry. Just Google around a bit for "server side spam filtering" and such.

Anecdote: we use hosted Exchange from Microsoft. I tried to setup a cron job to email us all at 4:57 with the subject line "Get The Fuck Out". Those don't come through either.

Yahoo (particularly when providing services for BT) silently delete some spam, even mail with a raw SA score < 1.5.

And they don't respond to complaints, even from their own users.

I've been running the same pukka mailing list for 12 years, I'm in their abuse feedback loop, have proved exclusive ownership of the mail server, all mail is DKIM signed with valid SPF records, mail is accepted with a 250 OK, you name it.

Still they bin my emails, but only to some accounts. No rhyme or reason, no bounce, no spam folder. Just never arrives.

Greylisting, for one.

You could also reasonably configure a filter to not land emails over a spam threshold.

Given the amount and type of spam in my Gmail Spam label, I'm quite sure there's a hard filter in place there too.

Greylisting does not throw anything out. It does the exact opposite. The mail server simply says, "I have a temporary problem, so I can't take this right now. Try again later" Mail servers are supposed to (and do) try again, at which time a greylisted message will be delivered. Accepting a message for delivery In Go Faith and then dropping it on the floor, is poor, lazy, cheap, RFC-breaking spam filtering.

What I mean is that greylisting is a trick mechanism where some mails, declared spam based on an unrelated and technical criteria, never reach the user's spam folder. This contradicts the 'spam should go to spam folder' point.

Russian mail provider Mail.ru did that, maybe still does. I blame white-listing, as perfectly valid mail from custom domains could become missing.

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