When you have junk/spam in Hotmail, & you click “Report & Delete”,
does Hotmail really report it?
Yes and no.
The intent behind that button is to reduce the amount of junk mail you might
get in the future. However I’m guessing that it’s not doing what you think it
The question is who’s doing the reporting, and who’s getting the report?
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If there’s a “Report & Delete” button on your Hotmail it’s there for
you to report the spam to Hotmail.
And that’s as far as the report goes.
(This actually applies to all the services – GMail, Yahoo and so on. In
fact, I’m not seeing a “Report & Delete” button on my Hotmail account, but
the same principals apply with the “Junk” button, “Report Spam” button or
anything else that allows you to indicate that a particular message is, in your
Hotmail doesn’t report it to someone else, because there’s no “someone else”
to report it too. Junk mail comes from many different places, and spammers
typically do an excellent job of hiding. That’s one of the reasons that junk
mail is so incredibly difficult to stop.
your mail provider more accurately block incoming spam.”
So if the report only goes as far as Hotmail, what good is it?
The intent is that is allows Hotmail to adjust its own spam filters. If many
people report a particular type of email as spam, then in theory Hotmail can
use that information to say “if I see email that looks like this in the future,
since so many people think it’s spam, I’ll mark it as spam to begin with for
Sometimes that means the mail will be redirected to your spam folder.
Sometimes that means that you’ll never see the mail at all.
When used properly that “This is Spam” button can help your mail provider
more accurately block incoming spam.
But that’s all. It doesn’t do anything about the spammers themselves, or
stopping them from trying to spam in the first place.
Now, I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on a pet peeve of mine, and a problem
that many legitimate mailing list providers face every day. It’s that part
about “when used properly”.
As you know, I publish a weekly newsletter. As I’ve written about before small
handful of people mistakenly click on
the “Report as Spam” button each week. In some cases it’s an honest
mistake, as the “Spam” button might be too close to the “Delete” button and
people can miss. In other cases it’s a mistake of understanding – the “Spam”
button is not the correct way to unsubscribe from a newsletter that you
explicitly signed up for.
The problem, as you can see from the discussion above about how the “Spam”
button works, is that a few people calling legitimate mail spam by mistake can
cause the email service to think that it must be spam for everyone. As a
result, other people using the same mail service could stop getting the email
they actually asked for, email they don’t consider spam at all, and email they
So use the “Spam” button if you like, but use it carefully, and
know that all you’re doing is telling your mail provider, like HotMail, that
you think a message should be considered spam for everyone.