Thursday, December 13, 2007

Pet Peeve of the Week: Junk Mail That Isn't

A few months ago I sounded off about the increasing level of spam messages I was receiving, and how the "spam filters" were failing to keep some of these emails from my Inbox.

Around the same time, I switched my main email address from Yahoo! to Gmail because so many of my legitimate messages to friends (who all had my address in their address books) were being sent to their spam/bulk/junk folders. I figured it was because my domain name was, and I was worried that if I sent messages to new contacts they would therefore probably not ever get through. Things immediately got better with Gmail and my messages made their way to everyone--old and new friends alike.

But recently, things started to go awry again.

Last week I posted a frantic cry for help on the Feedburner message boards because it appeared that the email delivery function for my blog posts was no longer working. I got no reply.

Two days ago it was brought to my attention by three different people that my emails had gone into their spam/bulk/junk folders, despite the fact that my new email address was in their address book. Around the same time, a friend of mine who has a Hotmail address mentioned that her messages to certain friends seem to have disappeared.

And just fifteen minutes ago, I checked my "base" junk mail folder. Meaning, not the one that's easily accessed from my email program (Entourage on the Mac, which is the equivalent of Outlook or Lotus Notes for PC users), but the one I can only get to if I actually log in to through a web browser. There were 421 messages in THAT spam folder (versus only 15 that still made it through to Entourage's spam folder... so the folder is the initial filter, if you will), and I was shocked to see that about 15 of the messages were totally legit. Some of my blog post emails that I thought had never been sent out were in there (take heed to those of you who have signed up for the service... you might want to check and see if you missed any posts...), as were messages from three of my friends who are in my address book. I have no idea why these messages were treated as spam.

So I thought I would make a Public Service Announcement of sorts and advise everyone to check their "base" junk mail folder if you typically use an email software program (and you should definitely check your easily-accessible junk mail folder often, too). Gmail only keeps spam messages for 30 days, so I'm glad I caught some of the "real" messages before they were deleted. It is totally annoying because checking the spam folder pretty much defeats the entire purpose of having a spam folder, as I was forced to scan all of the message subjects dealing with every prescription medicine known to man, various "enlargement" offers, and pleas for bank account numbers that were "not a joke." However, it was worth it, as otherwise I would have missed my friends' emails and then would have been all bitter about why no one was writing me back.

I don't think The Powers That Be at these various email service companies are ever going to perfect the logic for the coding of the spam filters. By and large, the creation of the spam folder has been a great thing, but it does screw up occasionally. If anyone has NEVER had ANY problems with any of the issues I have mentioned above, please do us all a favor and leave a comment telling us what service you're using!

- e

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