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04 Dec 2009

Just Make It Stop Email

In a recent discussion among mail system managers, we learned that one of the large spam filter providers now has an option to reject all mail from ESPs (e-mail service providers, outsourced bulk mailers) regardless of opt-in, opt-out, spam complaints, or anything else, just block it all. Some of the ESPs wondered what would drive people to do that.

We are bombarded by ads from the moment we get up until the moment we go to sleep. There's ads on the radio, ads on TV, ads in the newspaper, ads on billboards, ads on the bus, ads on the fricking steps in the NYC subway. In my physical mailbox, where I used to throw away about one worthless little newspaper full of ads a week, now it's one or two a day.

The reality is that recipients do not care if they get the vast majority of what ESPs send. Even if we might have at one point checked the box to get Valuable Offers for More Fabulous Products Like This, now it's just more stuff in the gusher of ads. If there's a button to push to make their inboxes an ad-free zone, it really shouldn't come as a surprise that people push it.

For the minority of stuff that people do want, like the daily headlines from newspapers, or perhaps the weekly roundup of cheap plane fares, there's better ways to get them than e-mail. An RSS or Twitter feed is entirely under the recipient's control, meaning that no sleazy marketing manager can try to shove his messages to the top of My Yahoo, or to insert his feed if I didn't ask for it. If I lose interest and unsubscribe, it is gone instantly, permanently, and reliably. If I were a mail manager, I would be delighted to push the no-ESP button, then show a few of my users how to set up feeds for the trickle of stuff they really want, because now the management burden is on them, not on me.

For ESPs, if there is any argument whatsoever about whether recipients want your mail, you lose. Yes, it's hard to read their minds and only send them what they want, but thats how competent ESPs make the big bucks.

(Several mail managers at very large ISPs wrote privately to thank me for my note and wish they had that button, but they asked me not to name them since ESPs are so excitable.)


posted at: 16:47 :: permanent link to this entry :: 4 comments
posted at: 16:47 ::
permanent link to this entry :: 4 comments

comments...        (Jump to the end to add your own comment)

Stopping it at the inbox
Nice post. Google does a wonderful job of blocking spam before it lands in my imap inbox. However, I still get tons of Constant Contact newsletters and other stuff related to products I bought a long time ago. I don't have the time to unsubscribe, so I set a script to find anything that says "unsubscribe" in the body of the email and sweep it into the trash. Not a systemwide solution, but a good one for individuals.

(by Christopher Edwards 07 Dec 2009 22:39)



Heh. My sock puppets support me in email!

(by Al 10 Dec 2009 17:07)



can you confirm the name of the spam filtering appliance in question?

It would be interesting to look at.

(by Charlie 12 Dec 2009 09:47)


required reading
i want everyone to read this, so i'm engaging an ESP to blast out a link.

(by adam brower 23 Dec 2009 14:02)


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