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Thread: Email addresses and spam filters

  1. #1
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    Email addresses and spam filters

    For folks who are getting their email, and get the occasional newsletter from TFSA, reading on is optional. However, if you are having trouble logging in or you are not getting your emails, you might just want to read this.

    Yesterday I popped out a newsletter for the first time in about 4 months. For those who have already taken the trouble to respond, my sincere thanks. It's encouraging to get that kind of positive feedback.

    However, the run also highlighted the challenge of working through emails and spam filters. And that is what I need to focus on here for just a moment.

    This site has a pretty useful email notification system. It is meant to be a tool for you to get the kind of updates that should be useful to you and exactly what notifications you get is almost entirely under your control. We also do not publish your email address on this site or share/sell your email address to "third parties." I'm pretty sensitive about the "privacy" of most of my own email addresses so I ensured your email information is protected too. Unfortunately the webmaster one here kinda goes with the territory and I have to live with the consequences of that
    But moving on...

    Basically, it is pretty important to provide an email address that actually works. First, you can't complete the registration process without a confirmation step (which isn't the cause of my concern here because we don't send mail to unconfirmed email addresses other than the confirmation mail) so using a dummy email address isn't going to get you too far anyway.

    But more importantly, if I don't take steps to prevent the program from sending out emails to addresses that don't work, people who actually want their emails won't get them!

    Incredibly, we did not trip mweb who is notoriously grumpy about bulk emailing. Gmail and Yahoo! seemed quite happy too, despite the rather large number of our members here who have registered with these popular free email account providers. We didn't even manage to upset Spam Assassin.

    However, we did manage to wake up a few giants that seem to be popular with big corporates. This despite the fact that the email itself had a spam score of only 2.6. There were a few other funnies, but I'll get to that later.

    The wonderful thing about these guardians of corporate email servers is that they can make a decision to stop emails on a global scale in milliseconds, and yet they take 24 - 48 hours to clear a false alarm. Both Barracuda and Frontbridge have cleared the blocks they had erected so hastily, but the effects will only filter through within a day or two.

    The cause in this case seems to be dead email accounts. Too many emails to addresses that don't (or no longer) exist and obviously these programs shoot first and ask questions later.

    The only solution I have is that if I see an email is bounced for a dead email account, and you aren't logging in so I know you might notice a PM on the subject, I have to suspend your member profile so that the program won't send out any more emails to you - about anything. It also means you won't be able to log on etc. So if you are having these sorts of problems, there is a 'contact us' link down below, drop me a line and we'll get you going again.

    And now for the funnies:

    Something called PROFANITY took offense at angloamerican.com. The feedback from PROFANITY was particularly useless in me understanding who or what might be the problem, but perhaps it was the word "Heck". Anyhow, if anyone can shed any light on PROFANITY who seems to be a gatekeeper at angloamerican, I'd be pleased to hear it.

    For the guys and gals at Nedbank - please talk to your IT expert about NebankReactor. There are quite a few of you that have joined now and I really can't carry on manually jumping through the hoops that your gatekeeper throws up. We've got members from all the major banks in SA, and somehow all the others seem to survive without this dance.

    And a last one for now...

    If you are a fan of setting up email forwarding, try not to set up an email forward from mail address A to B if you've also got forwarding from B back to A. The marvel of this particular endless loop is that at some point one of the servers involved actually emailed to let me know about it
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

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  3. #2
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    The fun and games continue - this time it's Yahoo!

    I've received two messages that the confirmation email when registering hasn't got through - both users have Yahoo! email accounts. The prospective members seem genuine enough with local IP addresses, so I did a Google search on yahoo spam filter. What a treasure.

    To warm things up, we have this correspondent from Business Week complaining about the Yahoo spam filter - the comment from Beatdemon about sums up the problem we have here.
    I'm commenting nearly a year later and wish I could report that Yahoo! has cleaned up their act. We are exclusively an online business, so you can imagine how precious email is to us. It's the only way we can send download links to our customers and communicate with them. Every other email service works great, but we have a lot of customers with Yahoo! accounts.

    Recently we were blocked by Yahoo! because someone reported one of our email newsletters (that they opted in to) as SPAM. That's all it took! After complaining to Yahoo! they removed the block, but it took almost 3 weeks. We proved to them that we are not SPAMMing anyone by taking nearly an hour to fill out their online form.

    Then, only a month after the ban was lifted we've gotten banned again. I've sent numerous email messages to mail-abuse-bulk@cc.yahoo-inc.com to no avail. Our customers are not getting the download links that they purchased and we've had to put a ban on Yahoo! email addresses to try to prevent any new users from experiencing this frustration. It's absolutely ridiculous!
    Perhaps the difficulty lies in Yahoo!s definition of spam:
    Spam is any message or posting, regardless of its content, that is sent to multiple recipients who haven’t specifically requested the message. Spam can also be multiple postings of the same message to newsgroups or list servers that aren’t related to the topic of the message. Other common terms for spam include junk mail, UCE (unsolicited commercial email), and UBE (unsolicited bulk email).
    from Yahoo! tutorials here
    My first question of Yahoo! is "What responsibility do you bear to deliver a message that has been specifically requested?" It seems that specifically requested emails from here and elsewhere are not getting through. Time to flip this responsibility thing around a bit, I reckon.

    My second question is what about newsletter subscriptions and the like? Even if a user subscribes to a newsletter list (wants the content), by Yahoo!s definition, the newsletter is still spam and it seems will be treated accordingly!

    Maybe the answer is as suggested in some of the other Google results I scanned - as an UGC site that uses email notifications to aid members, we should ban Yahoo! email accounts for registration.

    And the suggestion for Yahoo! email account users - change to Gmail.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  4. #3
    Site Caretaker Dave A's Avatar
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    After very little trouble for nearly a year, I've had to (hopefully temporarily) stop new registrations from Yahoo! email addresses.

    Site attacks come in various guises, and we've just had a run of Yahoo! based registrations, it seems in an attempt to upset the spam filter gods into blocking emails from TFSA.

    I'm not sure who we've p'd off and why (someone who understands spam filter triggers and how they cascade by the looks of things), but they've left some clean-up work for me to do.

    In the meantime I apologise for any inconvenience.
    The trouble with opportunity is it normally comes dressed up as work.

  5. #4
    Diamond Member wynn's Avatar
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    I have a situation where I am sending priced tender documents to a list of contractors whose email addresses I obtain from a site inspection attendance register.

    8 or 10 (sometimes more) of my emails are regularly returned by 'mailer demon' as undeliverable.
    Funnily enough a lot of them are 'Yahoo' addresses.

    I did ask the one guy why he gives an email address that does not work and it seems that it is because he runs out of data bundles regularly???

    Surely, if this is the case, it is going to prove prejudicial to me if some service provider, like 'Yahoo' decides to react and black list me for sending email to too many undeliverable addresses???

    I could fax them but email is free not like paying for 30 or 40 x 3 to 5 minute minute phone calls???
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