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SPAM FILTERS ARE CRIPPLING EZINES By Bob McElwain
The growing use of software to filter incoming email to an ISP has added an unanswerable question: How many subscribers receive your ezine? For several years now, I've ignored subscriber list totals. The data is fuzzy when you look at numbers held, numbers not delivered, and so forth. I track only number of successful deliveries. However, this number is now much less meaningful.
Many (most?) ISPs have installed email filters to block spam and that other stuff I can't mention for fear of being blocked. If those filters bounced back to mailing service, addresses could be eliminated. Most are only trashed into big black hole of cyberspace. So there's no telling how many don't get through.
Some are bounced back to me personally. Unfortunately, no email address is provided, so I can't remove it from my list. I get a particular hoot out of this, when they've blocked my newsletter, calling it spam. I wonder what they're calling stuff they send to me.
Moral Irresponsibility In Action
Such software is a great example of irresponsibility in action. And lack of ethics and morality of which we see far too much. The 'gods' (programmers?) have decreed we're at mercy of computer algorithms which are primitive at best.
Analyzing meaning of a statement in English with a computer is still in its infancy, even though many powerful minds have been working at it for many years. Current software assumes related problems have been resolved, which is absurd.
Here's What Has Happened To Me
Beginning in November in 2001, I began to notice a fall off in responses to "STAT News." Both to ads, and comments emailed to me. I didn't pay much attention at first, for things like this fluctuate.
But I did check seriously in December. Definitely down in both areas. During January and February, I was pretty much out of things due to some heavy surgery. I didn't really get back up to speed until March. By then, downtrend in response rate over November last year was very noticeable. Certainly in excess of 15% by any measure.
Blocking Software To The Rescue?
By March, it was also clear spam blocking software was current rage. I believe this accounts for drop in response I have seen. Here's why.
Email response to newsletter dropped by same percentage as ad response. I track ad response accurately with software. So only place for error in making this statement is in misjudging email response. My answer to that was to check trash and count. The percentages were almost identical, although there's not enough data to be certain.
If only ad response had dropped off, I'd have decided I needed new ads. But when both dropped by same percentage, I had to charge it off to spam filters.