Delivering an e-newsletter via e-mail is becoming a very frustrating experience these days. Three years ago I could send lengthy e-mails containing the newsletters, and 99.9% of them would be delivered to the addressees. Sadly, that is no longer true today. The reason is simple: spam.
Three years ago, spam mail was simply an occasional annoyance. Since then, spam mail has mushroomed into a huge problem for people who maintain e-mail servers. I have seen estimates now that 80% or more of all e-mail sent is spam, or "unsolicited commercial e-mail" (UCE). Thousands of mail servers around the world have crashed because of the unplanned load that spam mail placed upon them.
Out of self-defense, almost all mail server administrators have installed some sort of filtering software in an attempt to identify and delete unwanted junk mail. Unfortunately, many of these mail filters also delete wanted e-mails, such as this newsletter. Several genealogy e-newsletters plus Harvard University, the New York Times, several stock market newsletters, the Disney Corporation, Yahoo, Macromedia, Amazon, and many others have reported similar difficulties with their e-publications. The spam filters mistakenly think these e-mail messages are spam and therefore delete them instead of delivering them to the addressees.
In one controlled experiment, e-mail expert Fred Langa sent 10,000 e-newsletters to subscribers who had volunteered to participate in the test. Langa wrote a lengthy newsletter and used several "sensitive words" and phrases. The result? About 40% of the newsletter messages were never delivered. You can read more about this experiment at http://www.eogn.com/archives/news0403.htm#UnreliableMailing.
So how can this problem be corrected? Luckily, there are two possible solutions.
First of all, it is easy to move the newsletter to the Web. In fact, I did that several years ago. The Standard Edition of this newsletter has long been available online at http://www.eogn.com, and a few months ago I started placing the Plus Edition online as well. Publishing on a Web page avoids the spam filter problems; however, it is less convenient for many readers. Instead of having each newsletter arrive automatically in e-mail, the subscriber has to remember to go online and read the newsletter on the Web site. I find that it is easy to forget such things.
The second solution is one that I like better: to publish the newsletter simultaneously on a web page and as a blog formatted as RSS. With this solution, anyone can read the newsletter by using either a regular Web browser or an RSS newsreader program. Anyone who is willing to take a few minutes to install a newsreader will find that reading a blog is as easy and convenient as reading e-mail: the newsletter articles will arrive automatically as long as the reader is running. In other words, it works much like e-mail. Even better, a blog is not subject to spam filters since it does not use any mail servers.
Anyone can read this newsletter with any Web browser, such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, Netscape, Opera, or Safari. Anyone can also read it with any RSS-compatible newsreader, which gives them the advantages of speed and convenience described earlier. Most people who try RSS newsreaders find that they like them. Reading this newsletter and other publications in newsreaders is easier and faster than having to visit web sites with a web browser. I find that using an RSS newsreader allows me to visit more sites and read more information in a shorter period of time, compared to using a standard web browser. RSS newsreaders are also great for people using dial-up connections; information appears on the screen much more rapidly in a newsreader than in a web browser. Again, the reader is never bothered with spam; the only thing that appears in a blog (RSS) newsreader is the information that the reader wishes to read.
RSS newsreaders are available for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. Many of them are available free of charge. Yahoo users can also use Yahoo's built-in newsreader. For a list of my favorite RSS newsreaders, look at http://www.eogn.com/rss-newsreaders.htm
If you are not receiving the newsletter in e-mail, check with your e-mail provider. All mail servers have spam filters these days. They have to. Otherwise, the load of spam mail would often crash the mail servers . However, the spam filters in the mail server may be deleting the newsletter.
Also remember that you have two other methods of receiving the newsletter:
1. Use a web browser to visit http://www.eogn.com and read it there.
2. Use an RSS newsreader, and have the newsletter articles fed to you automatically as they appear, faster and more conveniently than visiting a web site. Point the RSS newsreader to http://eogn.typepad.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/index.rdf.
Either way you choose, you do not need to wait for the once-a-week mailing.