Spam problem found, but solution questionable

A few months ago I noticed an marked increase in the amount of spam that I was receiving.  At the time it was a minor inconvenience and I just dealt with the problem the old fashioned way:  I deleted the offending messages.  But a week or two ago Debra started noticing a large increase.  And then we were gone over the weekend and when I came back I had to trash over 200 messages.  Time to do something about the problem.

I get my email through my ISP, who has SpamAssassin installed.  I checked my settings again, just to be sure I had it configured correctly, and then sent a message to my ISP’s support through their exceedingly user-unfriendly help desk software.  After a short exchange of messages I got their answer:  1) lower the spam threshold in my SpamAssassin configuration to 3; 2) train SpamAssassin.

Fine.  Except.

1) According to the SpamAssassin configuration information, a setting of 5.0 is “fairly aggressive”, and should be sufficient for one or just a handful of users.  The instructions caution that a larger installation would want to increase that threshold.  It doesn’t say what lower numbers would do, but since several of the obviously spam messages I’ve examined have numbers over 2.0, I hesitate to reduce the setting to 3.  Otherwise I’ll start getting false positives.

2) Their method of training SpamAssassin involves me installing a Perl script (written by a user who has no official connection to the ISP and that is not officially supported), forwarding good messages to a private email address (that I control), and having the Perl script examine those messages so that it can update the tables that SpamAssassin uses.

That’s ridiculous!

First, there’s no explanation why my spam count went from almost zero to 50 or more per day almost overnight.  Second, they expect me to have the knowledge, time, and inclination to install and run that script.  Oh, and if I want to make sure that Debra’s mail is filtered correctly, I should have her forward her good emails to that private email address, too.  “I promise I won’t look at them.”  I wouldn’t, and it’s unlikely that there’s anything she’d want to hide from me anyway, but I can imagine that others who share my predicament would have users who are reluctant to forward their emails.

Honestly, it’s among the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.  Why don’t they have a reasonable Web client that has a “mark as spam” button?  Why, after 10 years of dealing with spam, is there no informal standard for notifying your ISP that a message you received in your email client is spam?  Why should I even have to think about spam anymore?  Shouldn’t the ISP’s frontline filters catch the obvious garbage that’s been clogging my mailbox?

I think I need a new ISP.  Or at least a better way to get my mail:  something that will filter the spam for me after downloading from my ISP.  But it has to be Web based.  I like using a Web mail client, because I regularly check my email from multiple locations.  Any suggestions on Web-based email services that can do this for me?