I have the simplest personal email spam solution in the world. I use Apple’s Address Book and, in it, I keep all the email addresses I ever want to get mail from. In Apple’s Mail program, I simply tell it that email from an address in my address book is exempt from being treated as junk mail. Then I set up a Mail rule that says if the sender is not in my address book, the message should be moved to the Junk Mail folder.
Voila. This system is flawless. You will never be able to send me loads of spam that go anywhere but my spam box, and I hardly ever look in there.
Naturally, there is a caveat to using this technique, but I actually consider it to be an advantage. By necessity, this technique, keeps me pro-active about getting people’s contact information when I meet them (and want to talk again). If I don’t get that person’s email address, I’ll probably never see that person’s email unless I’m looking out for it. Nine times out of ten, however, that’s what I want to have happen anyway.
So this solves the problem of unwanted mail. However, what if I want to let people contact me that I don’t know ahead of time or have previous whitelisted? Well, in that case I rely on an out-of-band communication, such as an introduction from a friend, leaving a comment on my blog(s), or some other method such as an instant message to let me know that there is someone who wants to talk to me.
My contact information is so available (in so many places), and many IM services are now equipped with store-and-forward messaging that there really is no reason for email to be the first time I hear from someone. Even better, if I’m contacted over Google Talk (as an example), I automatically have an email address for that person.
Voila. Simplest. Spam. Filter. Ever.