Filtering SPAM in Gmail

Am I missing something here? Gmail now puts my email arriving in Gmail now has "***SPAM***" in the subject line of junk mail which makes it very visually identifiable to a human. It seems to be entirely accurate so far in what it marks in that fashion really being crap.

However when I decide to trust it and set up a filter to fling all those messages into my SPAM folder so I never have to look at them, it appears that the asterisks are some sort of wildcard and I can’t make a query to identify those messages without grabbing everything that has "spam" in the subject (e.g. "Re: your question about spam filtering").

Was someone at Google just not thinking? Or being too obscurely clever for the rest of us to follow? Tips appreciated.


Kevin set me straight. (Thanks!) It must be coming from the TextDrive mail handler, so it’s a case of incompatibility between their flagging and Gmail’s search functions. I’ll put in a request for a change for a different typographic treatment when the flag gets added.

Published by

Dinah from Kabalor

Author. Discardian. GM. Current project: creating an inclusive indie fantasy ttrpg

5 thoughts on “Filtering SPAM in Gmail”

  1. It’s not Gmail that puts the ‘***SPAM***’ identifier in the subject. If Gmail thinks something is spam, it puts it in the Spam folder. There’s another mail handler along the way that is trying to be helpful by altering the header to let you know. Most likely your mail is being forwarded from another address to Gmail (from, perhaps?) and your webhost’s email system is tagging the mail.
    For the second part, there are lots of characters that aren’t searchable in gmail (or Google, for that matter). Gmail (and Google) does whole-word matching, and if * was considered a searchable letter then a search for ‘Spam’ wouldn’t match a subject of ‘**Spam**’ in the same way that a search for ‘cure’ doesn’t match occurances of ‘obscurely’. The tradeoff for treating ‘*’ as a non-letter character is that you can’t distinguish ‘***Spam***’ from ‘Spam’.
    (We’re always thinking. Feel free to drop me a line with any other Gmail or Google questiosn you’ve got.)


  2. Using ***SPAM*** in the subject field is a standard for SpamAssassin (or other server based spam filters). The ISP isn’t likely going to change it because many customers will be counting on it to do their own client side filtering.
    You can accurately find it at gmail using the following search:
    “X-Spam-Flag: YES” + subject:SPAM
    This first searches for the SPAM header that’s also added by SpamAssassin, and then looks into the subject line for the word itself. You could also just use the qouted phrase, since no one is going to be adding that header to their mail unless they don’t want you to read it, but still have some need to send it …


  3. i am a network manager and i arrived here from google looking for sugestions on caracters to surrond spam in the subject. now that i read your comments, i considering to not use *** because of what you said. 🙂


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