Data Doctor: Anti-spam devices block some legitimate e-mail - East Valley Tribune: Business

Data Doctor: Anti-spam devices block some legitimate e-mail

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Posted: Saturday, December 22, 2007 10:46 pm | Updated: 6:44 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

Q. I have not received (your) weekly newsletter since July 2007. I have checked online and (it says) I am a member, and it is checked that I should get your weekly letters. Why am I not getting them?

— Glena

A. The sheer volume of junk e-mail messages that are in circulation has created a problem that is bigger than the nuisance of unwanted messages: the automated filtering of wanted messages.

It’s not a surprise that more and more of our desired messages are being blocked or filtered as the spam problem increases. A recent check of our corporate mail server showed that 94 percent of the messages coming in were marked as spam, 2 percent were marked as potential spam (but let through) and only 4 percent was perceived to be legitimate e-mail (which is consistent with what many others are reporting).

Those of us who send newsletters only to those who are requesting it follow all of the guidelines to reduce the chances of being labeled as spam. But despite our best efforts, it’s an uphill battle.

When you sign up for a legitimate newsletter, you must generally input your e-mail address into a form and then validate an e-mail message that confirms that you want to be added. This is often referred to as a “double opt-in” procedure.

Despite all of this, your email program, or more commonly your e-mail service provider, will automatically mark certain “bulk” messages as spam and keep them from ever hitting your e-mail account at all. Any message that is sent to more than a handful of users on any given system is generally marked as a bulk message, which is also a common sign of spam messages.

Depending on the policies of the e-mail provider, this could result in everything from a redirected message (look in your spam and bulk mail folders) to a message never getting past this first unsophisticated filtering method.

If you find that the newsletter is getting through to your account but it is being placed in the spam or bulk folder, you should be able to add the newsletter’s address to your address book or the safe sender list.

Unfortunately, e-mail service providers have to deal with such a large volume of junk, it’s is easier for them to summarily kill as much of the stuff before the user is brought into the picture. This means in many cases you will never get the chance to mark the sender as being safe because you are never given the chance to receive the message. In other words, your service provider has decided to kill all messages coming from whoever is sending out the newsletter without asking you if you want it.

In some cases you can send a request to allow the newsletter through, but most will deny that they are doing anything to filter the newsletters because they can’t deal with the sheer volume of these types of requests.

If you can’t find the newsletters in any of the junk or bulk folders and your service provider is not willing to ensure that the message will be let through, you best option is to sign up for a free-mail account and subscribe from that address.

My favorite is G-mail from Google because it’s easy to combine your existing mail with the new G-mail address into one interface.

The other big advantage to using a Gmail account for all your newsletters as well as other less critical messages is that when the account starts to get overrun with junk, you can simply stop using it and create a new account to start over without having an impact on your primary account.

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