Keeping On Top Of E-Mail Is Tough, Please Don't Make It Tougher

I get lots of e-mail. And I don’t mean SPAM (which I get even more of). I mean real e-mail, stuff that I need to read and lots that I need to reply to. This includes mail from co-workers, product teams, sales folks, customers, partners, readers of my books, and lots of end-users. And mailing lists is a whole separate discussion.
I do read each and every message, eventually. And I do reply to every message that needs a reply, even if it does take some time to do so (the rate at which I work through my inbox is directly proportional to the number and length of flights in my schedule).
And I don’t mind doing so. Really. It’s a lot of work, and very time consuming, but it’s an important part of what I do. I could not do what I do without e-mail.
But what I do mind is being forced to jump through hoops to reply to e-mails. I am talking about Spam Arrest and similar mail verification schemes. I used to run into these infrequently, but not anymore. I received 8 yesterday and 2 today (and only 2 were from the same person)! Those are annoying, especially when you reply to lots of mail offline (as I do) and end up getting the verification requests long after the message was written.
I understand wanting to control spam, I really do, but this is just a hassle. If I initiate a thread, ok, then I can see perhaps having to go to a registration page and doing whatever is requested. But if you use one of these systems, and are going to send e-mail messages to others (messages that expect a response), the least you can do is to pre-add the recipients to your filter. Really.
As for me, I just did something I have never done before. I deleted those verification requests instead of registering. Enough is enough.

12 responses to “Keeping On Top Of E-Mail Is Tough, Please Don't Make It Tougher”

  1. James Edmunds Avatar
    James Edmunds

    Reasonable enough — if someone installs some sort of program to control mail, then that person should bear the burden of any actions necessary for his recipients to reply to mail that he sends.

  2. Dan G. Switzer, II Avatar
    Dan G. Switzer, II

    This type of software needs hooks into the e-mail client so that if you generate an e-mail request to an address, it automatically becomes a trusted source. That’s the one thing that’s kept me from moving to Spam Arrest–but trust me, I’m extremely tempted.
    On average, I get about 2000 spam messages a week. I’m sure there are people how get more. Fortunately, most of them find their way to my Junk folder, but it’s still a huge hassle to content with and one I’d like to see go away altogether (although that’s unlikely to happen.)

  3. John Wilker Avatar
    John Wilker

    Hate those. I don’t reply to messages that have that in place. too much effort. Spam sucks, we all gotta deal with it. I agree, jumping through hoops is not the answer.

  4. Sean Corfield Avatar
    Sean Corfield

    Totally agree – I’ve long had a policy of *never* clicking through on SpamArrest. If anyone sends me an email that they want a reply to and they don’t pre-add me to SpamArrest then that’s their dumb fault as far as I’m concerned. What *really* ticks me off is when these folks join a mailing list and don’t whitelist the mailing list itself – causing *everyone* to get stupid verification emails every time they post to the list!
    There are plenty of spam management options – I recently moved to SpamCop (my wife’s had a SpamCop account for several years) and it’s an absolute joy to no longer get an inbox full of spam!

  5. Tjarko Avatar

    Hear hear!!

  6. David Avatar

    God bless ya Ben – I don’t know how you do it! I don’t think i’ve ever seen an industry expert as involved in the community as you and the rest of the "MacroMedia" (yeah, I know, Adobe now, but I can’t speak for their staff, you understand) crew.

  7. Casey Dougall Avatar
    Casey Dougall

    I just love SpamArrest type systems. Seriously, there was a time where I manually setup filters and this was getting time consuming, now I just let a third party service ready my mail for me. They get to read my mail before I do, see if it’s from someone who has gone though the process of being approved and if all is well I might even get the message if their service isn’t broken for some reason…
    I’m just joking of course, I don’t need something as private as an e-mail message being read by more people then needed. Who’s to say these services don’t sell e-mail addresses themselves or steel that insider trading secret I was sending to my friend.

  8. Dave Werden Avatar
    Dave Werden

    AMEN!! This has gotten in the way of my communications many times, and I totally agree that a sender should add you to their white list to save you the hassle.
    Perhaps we programmers need to adjust some of our pages in light of these anti-spam services. For example, I have a contact form and several other user-interaction processes that send email to the site user (on When I have a chance, I think I’d better add some language on those pages (or the response pages) to instruct people what email address(es) to add to their white lists.

  9. Tom Kitta Avatar
    Tom Kitta

    I agree with you Ben, these things are very annoying. I also sometimes just quit. I guess spam arrest also makes sure your legitimate mail volume is low 🙂

  10. Ali Halac Avatar
    Ali Halac

    Concerning the spam part of your message, I just started to use Blue Frog from Blue Security as anti-spam solution. It uses a fight back mechanism, using mails reported as spam by users. It aims to cut off spam just from the source by "convincing" the spammer to remove Blue Frog user from his list. I think it deserves a try:

  11. Stacy Young Avatar
    Stacy Young

    OMG those drive me crazy. Particularly on mailing lists so I get them almost every time I post…so I have to junk mail the person.

  12. Nathan Dintenfass Avatar
    Nathan Dintenfass


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