Daniel Quinlan of SpamAssassin Speaks

Do you remember when Aunty told you about Daniel Quinlan, in the context of SpamAssassin being picked the top anti-spam product? Or, in addition to his work with SpamAssassin, you may remember Quinlan as a Vice-President, Apache Software Foundation, which was in the news a few months ago for their rejecting Microsoft’s Sender I.D. proposal.

Well, Daniel Quinlan, who in addition to his being one of the SpamAssassin architects now works at Ironport for his day job, was recently the subject of an in-depth interview with Howard Wen over at O’Reilly’s OSDir.com.

Daniel Quinlan does not strike one as your typical spam fighter, and that’s because he’s not. The tall, clean shaven Quinlan, who has his degree in computer science from Bucknell, looks more like a young attorney (in Aunty’s book that’s not an insult!) and comes across as a thoughtful and articulate spokesperson.

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This latter is borne out by the interview, which makes for some very interesting reading, particularly the bits about who is ultimately responsible for the amount of spam which is, or isn’t, in a user’s inbox. Quinlan maintains that “If you don’t mind deleting spam manually, that’s your prerogative, but don’t complain about it. If your ISP doesn’t do a good job fighting spam, then switch ISPs or install your own anti-spam software. There are a lot of choices out there.” A position which makes a lot of sense, but may not be terribly popular with the average end-user, who often doesn’t really understand the logistics and dynamics of either spam or anti-spam processes.

Quinlan also explains why 419 spam is such a challenge even for a super-star like SpamAssassin; it is because “they are often literally sent individually to each recipient, mutating each time, by scammers typically located somewhere in West Africa. Because they often are sent in low volume, and almost every one is somewhat different, they are a bit tricky to catch.”

But perhaps the truest thing which Daniel Quinlan says in this interview comes when Wen asks Quinlan what was the toughest thing about fighting spam, to which Quinlan replies “It’s either the continually evolving nature of spam, or the fact there is so much broken and poorly-designed email software out there.”

 

Amen, brother Quinlan.

It’s an interview worth taking a look at, and you can at the OSDir.com site.

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