The Magic NumberWritten by Bob Osgoodby
Having published a Newsletter for over 6 years we've learned a few "tricks". Probably most important one is that people want to get their information as quickly as possible. They are not willing to wade through tomes of information, no matter how well written, to get ideas presented in article.
If two identical newsletters are published, except one has a rather long article, and other has a condensed version of same article, there will be a disproportionate number of "unsubscribes" from first, and few, if any, from second. This has got to tell us all something.
The magic number, we have found, is 750 words or less.
Personally, I try to keep all articles I write (and publish in our Newsletters) under that magic number. If I let my fingers get away from me, and have exceeded that magic number, I take a long hard look at article. Nine times out of ten, it can either be shortened or made into two articles.
Most modern word processors have a word count feature. As you are developing your article, if you check this on a regular basis, you can achieve desired size without having to go back and rewrite it.
The second, and equally important "trick" is to word wrap at 65 characters per line. If you don't, people may receive your article in a format that is very difficult to read. Many mail packages default to 65 characters per line, while others default to a higher number.
The Poop PatrolWritten by Bob Osgoodby
If you live in a closed community, such as a condo or residential community, you know what term "Poop Patrol" means. These are your self appointed protectors, who are constantly on alert for any infraction of rules of their community. Hang a towel on your railing - bang - you're busted. If you own a pet, you can be sure that "Poop Patrol" is watching you.
Well, Internet has its' own version of "Poop Patrol", and anyone who actively sends email over Internet, has probably run into them at least once. This is a fact of life. I had my service canceled for an infraction I didn't even commit. Another Newsletter had published my "Internet Tip of Week" column, and a "Patroller" sent a barrage of emails to every ISP he could find in Newsletter - my email address was at end of article, and he sent numerous complaints to my ISP. I was cancelled, and although account was ultimately reinstated, I learned a big lesson.
There are some people whose "holy grail" is reporting people as spammers, and I guess only kick they get out of life, is to get service of one of their "targets" discontinued. They seem to get pleasure out of hurting other people. I call these people "Poop Patrol" of Internet.
Face it - professional spammers do not use their local ISP. They rent a virtual server for about a hundred bucks a month, forge return address, and spam to their hearts content. Only rank amateurs spam using their ISP. You know them - they are ones who send you an email and show you address of everyone they sent it to.
So how do you protect yourself if you do send out bulk email such as a Newsletter? While there is no magic formula, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.
First - never, ever (and that is a very long time) send out bulk email from your primary ISP, especially if you have web pages on their server. If they cancel your service, you will also lose all your web pages.
Second - provide a way to easily allow people to remove themselves from your mailing list. This is where a List Server comes in very handy. If you notify people who are on your list how to unsubscribe, this more or less takes you off hook.