Mail Cruncher Brings Business Trust Ratings to Anti-Spam

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Mail Cruncher, a new anti-spam subscription service, relies on a "business trust rating" database called the Outbound Index. Email is sorted based on facts such as domain age, relationships between server and domain, and sender stability.

We chose open source where possible, for reasons of higher performance, customizability, and the excellent support available 24/7

"In business, I decide to trust other companies based on how long they have been around, their location, who else does business with them, and their record of reliability," says April Lorenzen, creator of the Mail Cruncher service. "We just applied the same common sense to sorting email. Our customers say it works well for them, saving time and aggravation every day."

Spammers tend to hide and move; legitimate business senders tend to be stable and clearly identifiable. This common-sense observation was the basis for work done by an international team over the past three years. Led by Ms. Lorenzen, the team's work culminated in the creation of a business trust rating database for email called the Outbound Index.

The Mail Cruncher email sorting service uses Outbound Index ratings exclusively to sort email. Messages with a high rating go immediately to the subscriber's inbox. Messages with a low rating are held back. Once a day, Mail Cruncher subscribers are sent an email with a sorted, color-coded list of suspicious emails that can be scanned in seconds.

"My inbox stays cleaner, and I don't lose mail I want to get," says Fran Microulis, a Web site administrator for American Biophysics Corporation. "Once a day I get a single email with the Mail Cruncher list. Even if there are one hundred messages on the list, I can look it over in less than a minute, deleting everything I don't want with one click. I used to spend at least a half hour a day trying to figure out what was spam in my inbox and getting rid of it."

The Mail Cruncher list has several features that make it easy for subscribers to quickly scan and take action on suspicious messages:

  • Domains are grouped, so if a subscriber receives 17 messages from the same domain, the messages appear together for faster skimming.
  • Appearing at the top of the color-coded list are any messages that have been marked as wanted in the past. Messages from new senders are displayed in the middle of the list. Senders whose messages have been deleted in the past appear at the bottom.
  • The sender's user name, such as "nwyiyvq," is displayed, not just the often-misleading name ("Victoria") shown by most email inboxes. Seeing a user name such as "nwyiyvq," the subscriber can immediately realize the message is not from the "Victoria" he knows. Subscribers say this feature alone saves countless "is it or isn't it?" hours every month.
  • If a subscriber isn't sure if a message is spam or not, she can read the text of the message safely within the Mail Cruncher environment--without triggering webbugs or attached viruses, without displaying any objectionable images that might be in spam, and without the sender knowing the email was opened.

An actual Mail Cruncher list with the above features can be seen and tried on the web at

Mail Cruncher has been in use by the customers of, a Rhode Island ISP, for the past several months. Subscribers say they are pleased to be free from the deluge of spam, and also like the fact that it is easy for them to double-check the list of "suspicious" messages quickly once a day for any messages they wanted to receive.

"In the time I have used Mail Cruncher, all of the emails it sorted out were emails I really didn't want," says Robert Umbenhauer, owner of the East Ferry Deli. "It certainly is a better alternative than changing my email address, which I was seriously considering."

Mail Cruncher Service Available Now
The Mail Cruncher service is available immediately at The cost is $3 per mailbox, per month. The service is open to any business with an internet domain name of its own. can also help business subscribers obtain a domain name if they don't have one already. Subscribers can use the Mail Cruncher service risk-free for a full 60 days.

Why the Outbound Index Uses Objective Rating Criteria
One of the reasons the Outbound Index doesn't look at the content of the email message is because many legitimate senders use terms coincidentally found in spam. "Real estate companies send and receive many legitimate messages with the word 'mortgage' in them," says Ms. Lorenzen. "The Outbound Index makes it much easier for these companies to continue conducting business via email, in spite of the 'spam-like' content of their legitimate messages."

Outbound Index ratings do not depend on subjective judgements about words in the message or muddy permission issues. The Outbound Index ratings used by Mail Cruncher are based principally on statistical facts such as domain age, relationships between server and domain, and sender stability.

Who Created the Outbound Index
An international team of developers, hailing from Romania, France, Malta, USA, and Australia have spent the last three years working together on the Outbound Index, under Ms. Lorenzen's guidance and with advice from Internet veterans, including author Derek J. Balling and former AOL Senior Internet Mail Systems Administrator Brad Knowles. The majority of software utilized throughout the Outbound Index is open source, including Twisted Framework Python, Postgresql, Sendmail, and Debian Linux. "We chose open source where possible, for reasons of higher performance, customizability, and the excellent support available 24/7," says Ms. Lorenzen.

Media contact:
Kristin Zhivago

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