Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

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A couple of types of spam analysts

A couple of types of spam analysts

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Back in the early to late 1990's, when Winnipeg still had an NHL hockey team, I used to watch and listen to a lot of hockey.  I was a really avid sports fan.  After they left town and I started university I didn't follow the game as closely but even today I still regularly keep tabs on the Ottawa Senators, my current favorite team.  It bothered me quite a bit last year when they lost in the Stanley Cup Finals rather easily.  But I got over it (the teams I cheer for have a long history of coming in second).

In hockey, there are a couple of different types of players - the grinders and the scorers.  The scorers are the people that are known for putting the puck in the net while the grinders are the ones that usually play against the other teams top lines and keep them from scoring.  They grind down the opposition.

I was thinking today that within the realm of spam, we have a couple of different types of antispam players - the grinders and the coders.  There are definite differences; the grinders are the people who deal with spam every single day.  They push out the spam rules, deal with IP delisting requests and process and reduce false positives.  Then, there are the coders.  They develop the tools, create new antispam features and do piles of programming.  Between the two groups today, there is very little overlap.  The two groups of people do either one or the other and there isn't too much overlap.

The thing is that both sets of people prefer this arrangement.  The grinders don't want to develop, and the developers don't want to do the daily grind of spam processing.  So, the division of labour works.

The one exception is me.  My job function straddles both sets, though I interact more with the coders even though my background is with the grinders.  I used to grind out plenty of spam rules, now I do much more management and seeing new antispam features through to completion.

Back when I first started, the five of us on the spam team straddled both sides of the fence.  Now that I'm the only one of us left, the division has become more clear.  I guess I'm a bit of a throwback to the way the spam team used to operate.  You can classify me as a bit of an old school spam fighter.

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