I am an occasional Hotmail user. I use my Hotmail email address to register at websites requiring an email address, and it's listed on my website so people can send me feedback. The likelihood of getting spam (or any other unwanted commercial pitches) is pretty high. Even when you do your best to hit all the opt-out checkboxes on a registration page, you might miss something and get mail you don't want. Perfect use for a Hotmail account then: if I get junk mail, at least it's not in my primary inbox.
So you can imagine my dismay when one day I log into Hotmail and see a message that my account has been deactivated because it exceeds Hotmail's 2 meg limit. I see only about 30 messages (75% of them spam that Hotmail's spam filters failed to catch) in my Inbox, none of which with large attachments.
I look to the sidebar, and see that there's 900+ messages in the Junk Mail folder, where Hotmail's spam filters place messages that it determines are spam. In the past, I've had issues with the filters putting valid mailing list messages from Tech Republic in the Junk Mail folder, but lately it's been pretty reliable: Every single message in that folder is spam. (Not that it catches all the spam...we can only guess what their spam detection algorithm may be...)
So I click on that folder, and what do I find? I've been mailbombed. Spam mailbombed. To be fair, it's not the first time I've gotten a spam mailbomb at Hotmail, and this certainly wasn't to be the last.
And herein our suspicions of a conspiracy start to form. A C|Net news story hinted at user suspicions that this sudden influx of junkmail (I wasn't the only one affected) may be tied to Microsoft's latest pitch to sell increased storage space to people. A little shady indeed, when you receive an email message from Hotmail trying to sell you additional storage space when spam fills up your junk mail folder. And is it really fair for them to charge us storage space for mail that their spam filters identify as spam? I dont think so.
I've received several of those notices and emails in the past weeks. Fortunately there is something of a cure: Setting your Hotmail account to automatically delete spam as it arrives, instead of every 7 days. This means putting full trust into the trustworthiness of the Hotmail spam filter. But the choice is either that, or to bring out your wallet and pay Microsoft.
On a related note, Slashdot reported a few days ago that Yahoo will begin charging for POP3 and Forwarding services. As a Yahoo Mail user, I received the email informing me of this. While I can't say I like it, It sounds fair enough, and getting your mail through their Web interface remains free.