Looks like Hotmail / Microsoft is having a rather bad day. Their DNS seems to be intermittent. While they were down a while ago they were returning SERVFAIL for some DNS lookups, including MX lookups.
For senders who have the DNS data in their recursive resolvers, this will have no impact. For senders who either don’t have the data cached or who have the data expire before the servers come back online there may be a transient increase in the number of bounces at Microsoft domains (Hotmail, Outlook, MSN.com, office365.com and the Microsoft corporate domains including microsoft.com and their other domains like xboxone.com).
Yesterday I posted about why the reasons a lot of people give for not unsubscribing from spam are mostly wrong. Unsubscribing from spam doesn’t seem to confirm your address and it doesn’t seem to increase your spam load.
But does that mean you should unsubscribe from spam? I’m not sure about that.
I’ve been working on a project where I am unsubscribing from every message coming into one of my email addresses. Weeks into that process I’m not seeing a huge decrease in the amount of mail that address is receiving. In some cases I’m unsubscribing from the same senders multiple times a day and have been for close to 3 weeks.
While unsubscribing doesn’t increase your spam, I’m also not sure it decreases your spam, either. But I’ll have full data and numbers demonstrating that in a few more weeks.
What can have an effect on the amount of spam you get is complaining about spam, at least according to Brian Krebs.
in Best Practices.
Having been around the email and anti-spam industry for a while, I’ve just about seen and heard it all. In fact, sometimes I’ve been around for the beginning of the myth.
One myth that seems to never actually go away is “unsubscribing just confirms you’re a real address and your address will get sold and your spam load will explode.” This is related but orthogonal to “spammers harvest addresses out of unsubscribe forms.” The reality is that both of these things used to be true. Unsubscribing would confirm your email address and increase your spam load. Spammers would harvest addresses out of unsubscribe forms.
But neither of these things have really been true for the last decade.
I have had clients over the years that are spammers. Some of the are names that you probably would recognize. Some of them are companies we could probably all agree are spammers. Some of them are buying addresses from companies that are spammers. Some of them are companies that have a good mailing program here and then hire snowshoers over there. Sometimes they come to me claiming to be real mailers “with minor delivery problems.” Sometimes they come to me saying that a blocklist has recommended they talk to me about repairing their processes. Sometimes they even actually want to fix things. Sometimes they’re just looking to say that I’ve given them a clean bill of health (which is not something I do).
What that means is that I have lots of addresses on lots of spammer lists. Not just the ones they’ve found, but ones I’ve used to test their systems. I use tagged or disposable addresses for everything. Some of my disposable accounts are only marginally connected to me as I want to see what senders really do for their subscribers rather than what they want me to think they do. The ones I add to their system I use to test their subscription process as well as their unsubscription process.
I have never encountered a situation where unsubscribing one of those addresses caused a “multiplication” (to quote one anti-spammer) of my spam load.
I’ve had cases where my clients have ignored unsubscribes. I’ve had cases where my clients have decided years later to add me to their list again. I’ve had cases where they’ve been bought out and my address has been reactivated by the new owners. I’ve had cases where months or even years of 5xx responses was ignored. I’ve seen just about every bad bit of behavior on behalf of spammers. But I’ve never actually had unsubscribing increase my spam load.
It doesn’t matter how often people demonstrate unsubscribing doesn’t result in more spam in the current email ecosystem. (Ken Magill 2013, NYTimes 2011, dayah.com 2009). It doesn’t matter that many mailers treat “this is spam” button hits the same way they handle unsubscribe requests. The myth still persists.
I’ve told myself I can’t stop working until I post. Sadly, I can’t think anything useful to post. It’s been one of those weeks where I had some tricky and complicated client issues to work through. I can think of a lot of things to say, but I don’t want co compromise any client information. I wouldn’t do it on purpose, but I am very careful not to unintentionally leak.
Thus, the best I can do is point out that the city of Gotham was saved by Batkid today.
What this disclaimer means?
You are receiving this email because you have a customer relationship or have opted-in to an email list managed by the Emailing Entity listed below. This email was not sent to you by the company or website identified in the offer above, for which we have a separate business relationship. We have represented to such company or website that we have the affirmative right to email you with an offer on their behalf.
The best I get out of it, considering I have no customer relationship with the “Emailing Entity listed below” is “hi, we’re spammers but we lie to the people who pay us.”
in Best Practices.
This summer Yahoo shook up the email ecosystem by publicly announcing they were recycling usernames. The shakeup wasn’t so much that they were recycling usernames, but that they did it in a way that compromised user information and account security. Any user that had an account tied to a recycled Yahoo account is at risk for having their PII leaked. Folks are still dealing with the fallout, both Yahoo and the companies who are trying to meet customer needs by sending emails and protect customer emails by not sending emails.
On top of that, Yahoo announced they’re selling off a number of domains that they’ve accumulated over the years. Some of these are pretty high value domains like webserver.com, sandwich.com and other real words.
I don’t think Yahoo used any of these domains for email, and even if they did any addresses should have bounced off years ago. Still, it does bring up some broader policy issues.
Many, many things online, from bank accounts to social media accounts to blog commenting systems treat email addresses as a unique identifier for that account. Many of these databases were developed with the underlying assumption that people wouldn’t change their email addresses and that it was a static value. This wasn’t a true assumption 10 years ago and it’s certainly not true now. This mistaken assumption is a problem, and one that more and more companies are going to have to address moving forward. This isn’t about email and it isn’t about delivery, it’s about simple data accuracy and hygiene.
Companies must start thinking and addressing email address impermanence. These issues are not going away.
Mickey has a great story of what happened when he gave a lead gen company his email address. Over 200 emails in 2 weeks from companies that seem unrelated to the signup company.
It’s this behavior by PayDay senders that causes their mail to be filtered and has caused many, many ESPs just to prohibit that kind of mail on their systems. It’s very much the ugly underbelly of email marketing.
GitHub is a site where developers can share code with one another. It is widely used by open source developers. Their user base is made up of geeks and people who want a lot of control over their mailbox.
Their email signup process reflects the sensibilities of their market, without being difficult to manage or understand.
I’ve had clients over the years who were email marketing agencies selling leads to lenders. Their delivery is horrible, even when they’re doing all the “right things” for email. I’ve come to the conclusion that PayDay lenders are a lot like lawyers: “95% of them give the rest a bad name.”
PayDay loans are the one area where content trumps everything else, and so much of the content out there is bad, it can ruin delivery for everything. The NPR article speaks to why that is.