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AOL Blocking 95% of all Newsletters?

   
6:35 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



Been on a mailing list for people that run newsletters. Of the 15 newsletters sent out over the last week, only 1 out of the 14 made it through the aol filters.

Other tests concured, that email from sites such as SlashDot, WebmasterWorld, and most vbulletin based forums, were not making it through the filters either.

<added>clarified the email statement there</added>

[edited by: Brett_Tabke at 9:04 pm (utc) on Feb. 13, 2004]

6:48 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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That doesn't surprise me. Our company constantly receives emails from AOL users wondering why they do not get our opt-in monthly newsletter.
6:52 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator webwork is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



Expect to pay the post office for the privilege of delivery.
6:56 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Are they being bounced or deleted? Any idea why? Being as it is based on php, can the mail headers be customized/hacked (remove x-mailer, add multipart/alternative with a text/x-aol version of the msg.)?
7:09 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member whoisgregg is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



This is probably just a check for messages with duplicate content? AOL notices that over n messages have the same exact body and it marks it as spam?

Do newsletters that include customized content in the body get blocked? For example, "Hello <Firstname>, here's your November newsletter"

7:19 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Also, don't forget that if a couple of AOL users (AKA KinderNet) will click "this is SPAM" because they don't understand the "unsubscribe" process and that's all she wrote.
7:19 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Other tests concured, that sites such as SlashDot, WebmasterWorld, and most vbulleting based forums, were not making it through the filters either.

You mean websites? AOL is filtering websites?

7:23 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



This is exactly why I use a third party to mail. If AOL is not getting through, and they will call and see why.

Have you tried sending a test through a third party to see if it is an ip issue or a content issue? With spam filters being so touchy these days, you could have something unwittingly in the code/text of all the newsletters that's tripping it.

7:29 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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We've had a similar problem with AOL. A couple of opted in customers didn't want to receive emails any longer so hit the 'this is spam' button. AOL then just bounced the rest back. A word with AOL to explain that they were all opted in clients, and we were back on the white list.
7:42 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Yep we had the same thing, a friend was using squirrelmail on the server and he received a "been used to send spam, will be blocked for an unspecified amount of time... blah, blah"

Makes me wonder whether it's worth running an opt-in list anymore?

f

<edited to add footnote>

p.s. yep we customise the body of all messages with name and other info so they would all be diff.

[edited by: fasteddie_uk2001 at 7:44 pm (utc) on Feb. 13, 2004]

7:42 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Good point Hanna. If your content is compelling enough, your users will find ways to place you on their "white lists."

Regarding renegade users tagging you as spammers .. I hope the gatekeepers recognize this as a significant loophole in the whole antispam/one-size-fits-all approach.

Frustrating? Yeah!

7:43 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As far as newsletters from people that do affiliate marketing and have affiliate links in them, AOL will let through CJ, Performics, LS, but not BeFree links. Someone brought this up in the past and was tested to be true. Of course if you link back to your site first, you don't have these problems.
8:07 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I can't send emails from my email system at work to AOL addresses. Many businesses in the UK suffer from the same problem, as AOL have blocked emails from a wide range of BT Broadband users. We have never sent spam emails, and have tried to contact AOL to ask why our emails have been blocked, but they have never had the decency to reply. Our BT Boradband reseller speculates that AOL block emails from whole blocks of IP addresses when one user in that block sends spam. But that is just speculation.

I am glad that this problem has been raised on the frontpage of Webmasterworld. Maybe collectively, we can get an answer from AOL.

Ironically, I use AOL to access my personal email at home (because I have had my AOL email address for many years). However, I have now decided to cancel my AOL account because I cannot be sure whether or not I will recieve emails sent by my friends. I feel that AOL should either give users more control over their spam filters or indicate the severe limitations of their service to prospective clients.

8:09 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)



Check your reverse IP address. They're picky about that.

For example, mail.webmasterworld.com does not reverse resolve to webmasterworld.com .. be surprised if they made it through.

8:13 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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On a side note, we run into the IP block issue when sending to RogueRunner accounts, and it is due to lack of reverse DNS on our mail server (running on a residential account IP...), but when we send using our ISP's SMTP server it's all good.
8:16 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Our BT Boradband reseller speculates that AOL block emails from whole blocks of IP addresses when one user in that block sends spam.

Obviously that is not true - BTOpenWorld/BTInternet/BTBroadband were/are notorious for totally ignoring egregious spamming campaigns carried out from their networks - they've paid the price by becoming a standard on most blacklists.

8:34 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Given that BT Broadband provide the backbone for pretty much all the broadband services in the UK, blocking email from them is not a very sensible option. If you don't want to do business with ABCs from what is still one of the World's largest economies, block our emails by all means. People based in the UK don't have a lot of choice when it comes to broadband.

With such a cheap currency, I would have thought Americans would be happy to recieve emails from us Brits anxious to secure bargains with our shiny Pounds.

9:05 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator brett_tabke is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month



>You mean websites?

Any auto generated email that might look like spam volatilegx. New post notifications, signup notifications, and click back email verification on registration.

9:21 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Fought around AOL with this... our VP was having all of his company email forwarded to his aol. So, he started clicking spam for the spam and bam! We were black listed. Found out we didn't have a RDNS. Had the ISP add one, and we were just fine.
9:26 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)



AOL Spam Cops lol
They spam uk tv, they spam every mag on sale, they send me unsoliceted junk snail mail.

I buy a pc...junk aol sales pitches installed etc etc

Yes I hate aol and have reasons

Broadband...go with telewest if you can, I have had no problems at all the past 18 months.
I suppose some people have?

9:30 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I like Bill Gates' comment about the best way to eliminate SPAM is to charge the senders. If no bulk email was allowed that did not have a cost associated with it, it would cut down on SPAM big time. A user could specify after opening the email (or in advance via double opt-in) that they cancel the charges and then then from then on that sender does not have to pay to send to that person. Kind of like a Pitney Bowes Postal meter. Build this into Outlook and you have a winner. I am sure there are hiccups but the concept makes sense to me. The cost is split between reader and collector - another MS cash grab :)

I do not mind reading SPAM if I earn .20 an email.

Tim

9:36 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator rogerd is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member



I can confirm problems with getting new-user forum passwords to aol users on one of my busy forums. Very frustrating for them & more work for us.

Further AOL aggravation from morons who sign up for post notification and then are too lazy to turn it off; it's easier to flag it as spam. I get bounces on these, and usually take a minute to send a note to the member.

9:58 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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I run an advertising service and all email addresses for my clients are stored in a Mysql Database to reduce the email harvesting and spaming however every contact which is made through our web form which extracts the correct email address from the database is being blocked by AOL.

I have advised all my AOL adertisers to set up a free Yahoo email account. Which they did, and with their new found email address they updated their contact details on other web sites since then they have received a huge increase in business.

I am constantly have emails returned by AOL so if I need to send an email to someone with an AOL account I use my personal ISP email address which has never been published on the net. Only then can I contact an AOL account holder.

With Spam and AOL E-mail will become the worst and untrusted unreliable comunication tool ever.

I like how Yahoo works by splitting the E-mail it believes into two boxes so the customer can decide and quickly sift through the emails just incase something was blocked by mistake.

Shame AOL thinks they know best and everyone has to follow their rules.

Very frightening the thought of how much business has been lost because of AOL's actions.

10:21 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member




This is probably just a check for messages with duplicate content? AOL notices that over n messages have the same exact body and it marks it as spam?

Do newsletters that include customized content in the body get blocked? For example, "Hello <Firstname>, here's your November newsletter"

Good questions, whoisgregg.
Some more facts were nice. I know that msn will deny msgs that have more than 100 recipients.
So for AOL is it really the number of recipients? It could be other parts of the header as well. Anybody here that actually has experience and can shed some more light on the facts. :)

10:53 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



Shame AOL thinks they know best and everyone has to follow their rules.

The spam problem is becoming too nasty for them to ignore. They must do something and they have chosen the easiest solution for their users, which tend to be more, how shall I say this, helpless than most.

Personally, I use spamcop and turn on ALL blacklist filters, then whitelist only what I want to receive. Spamcop is by far a person's best friend to stop spam.

11:02 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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Obviously that is not true - BTOpenWorld/BTInternet/BTBroadband were/are notorious for totally ignoring egregious spamming campaigns carried out from their networks - they've paid the price by becoming a standard on most blacklists.

If AOL uses IP blacklists like spews.org, whole IP ranges will be blocked even if only one IP address in that range has been linked with spamming.

This causes problems if a webhosts IP range is blacklisted because hundreds of businesses are unable to communicate with their customers.

Making it more difficult for spammers to get hold of e-mail addresses in the first place is a better idea. Many of us use "spider traps" to block spambots from crawling our websites looking for e-mail addresses. An early warning system built into operating systems which pulls a list of confirmed spambot IPs to block from a centralised database could be more effective, long term, in cutting down spam.

11:18 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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FWIW -- I know of at least one major list management company that this happened to at least 6 weeks ago. They have a good relationship with AOL so it was fixed pretty quickly, but it was a major problem for 1000's of customers since everyone was blocked. AOL blamed it on a screw up with new filters they are using.
11:27 pm on Feb 13, 2004 (gmt 0)

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As others have mentioned, webmasterworld.com resolves to 64.33.51.156, but 64.33.51.156 doesn't resolve to webmasterworld.com. There is no reverse DNS.

Fix that and you'll fix a ton of garden variety email problems.

4:34 am on Feb 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member



I used to edit newsletter for an AOL partner area, and our newsletters regularly got blocked. The company we were using to mail the newsletters had gotten itself blacklisted, but as I recall (it's been several years) even after they filed a legal challenge and were removed from the blacklist, AOL kept intermittently blocking the newsletters. Despite the fact that we were AOL's legitimate partner, authorized to provide content to AOL members. Phone calls to AOL's postmaster solved nothing.

Later we started mailing our own newsletter, and the same thing happened. In that case, as I recall, we were being blocked because (as someone else mentioned) we were sending "too many" emails at once. It was really hopeless.

This was before AOL allowed its members to access spam folders (blocked email) but if your subscribers are not receiving their email today, you can tell them (maybe a note to new subscribers on your subscription page?) to try going to Keyword: Mail Controls and then clicking the Spam Folder link. I don't know how long AOL retains blocked mail there, but probably a day or two.

8:11 am on Feb 14, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member



> Check your reverse IP address. They're picky about that.

So you think that this is the main reason AOL blocked the mails?

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