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The acceptable spam report rate is a metric used by ISPs to flag companies that have excessive numbers of emails reported as spam by recipients. It is a way to evaluate the overall email landscape and use Bayesian heuristic filtering and other methods to isolate spam and put it in the spam folder.
The acceptable spam rate works this way: If too many recipients report company emails as spam, the ISPs and email handling devices look at that IP address and start to apply enforcement mechanisms. First, messages may be stuck in a spam folder or otherwise isolated. In extreme cases, IP addresses can be blacklisted.
Because companies have a vested interest in not being blacklisted, they work to create a lower rate of spam flagging. Experts note that techniques include targeting messages to recipients, building higher-quality messaging and limiting the frequency and number of communications over time.