Filtering spam with notes

The important thing to remember about programming Notes to zap junk mail is to think database

It's always been somewhat ironic that Lotus, after doing such a bang-up job of e-mail filtering in cc:Mail, made it so difficult to do the same in Notes. Even with Notes R5, filtering out spam is more trouble than it should be. But it's possible, if you know what you're doing.

The important thing to remember about programming Notes to zap junk mail is to think database. All other mail clients take a rules-based approach to dealing with spam, but with Notes you have to remember to address the folder first, and then consider the rules.

The folder in question this time is your Mail folder. Don't see it? Join the club. Simply having the Notes 5 client isn't enough. You also must be connecting with a Domino/Notes server that can handle this kind of filtering. For example, our vintage Notes 4.5 server couldn't do a thing with our rules.

In addition, you must have the right R5 template design. No template, no mail blocking.

You get the template by doing a "File-Database-Replace Design" with a template server that has the R5 Mail template. But if you've gotten this far, don't start getting cocky.

You can do all of that and still not see the folder. If that's your case, your problem is probably in the folder's properties.

The next step is to tap the command menu again and do File-Database-Properties, click on the Launch tab and set the "When opened in the Notes client" option to "Open designated Frameset" with a Name option of "MailFS." Don't you just love how Notes is as finicky as a bad-tempered cat?

Once you've made it this far, everything else is pretty much straightforward. With Notes, you can move, copy, change the priority and delete messages with extreme prejudice. To make that happen, you set up new rules, or modify old ones, with an easy-to-use windowing interface.

You can choose to examine messages according to a wide-ranging set of conditions, from the usual sender's name, subject or sender's Internet domain to the more esoteric blind CCs and message size.

So, for example, you could set a filter to mark a message as urgent and put it in your tip-top mail folder if it's from your boss with a subject of "Urgent Report" on December 13 and weighs in at more than 512K.

It's harder to make rules for every combination that you'll want to kill. So it is that you-as a reseller-can make some real money here.

By setting up rules based on the most common spamming subjects, words, domains and so on, you can make your customer happy and your wallet thicker. It's labour-intensive, and a server-based system would be far better.

But if your customer's IT department won't spring to stop spam at its entry point in the corporate mail server, you may well find that department-level managers are happy to stop spam on their desktops.