I’m a Spammer?!

Nov 29, 2005 by

I opened my inbox this morning to discover an e-mail from AOL saying that my mail was undeliverable. While I don’t use AOL as my e-mail provider, there are a few AOL users that have subscribed to the site. I thought at first that perhaps their mailboxes were full, or some server issues had arisen. However, after clicking on the link provided in the e-mail I was taken to an AOL page that said,

“The IP address you are sending from has been blocked due to unfavorable e-mail statistics.”

Unfavorable? I was confused, but after reading further it became apparent that some of my subscription e-mails have been marked as spam (most assuredly by mistake I thought). Once enough of them were marked, my e-mail was sent to the AOL spam purgatory, never to be delivered. Thankfully, there was a process to help clear my IP address from the “unfavorable” list, but the entire scenario begs the question; if my e-mail notifications for the site only go out to those individuals who sign up for them, and I always include a link to unsubscribe your e-mail address, has AOL taken a radical new stance declaring e-mails that are sent to more than two recipients spam? Or have people become so accustomed to seeing spam in their inboxes that they are conditioned to mark e-mail they don’t want anymore as spam, rather than read the e-mail to ensure there’s a better way to stop having the unwanted e-mail delivered?

Don’t get my wrong, I’m not complaining about having my e-mail rejected (it’s happened before, and will likely happen many more times in the future). I just thought it an interesting observation that other tech savvy educators might not have thought about, or might want to consider pointing out to their students that use e-mail on a regular basis. Is spam the junk e-mail that you didn’t sign up for, or is it the e-mail that has become junk because you don’t read, or need it, anymore.

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  1. Jake

    How did you resolve this issue with AOL?

  2. Ben

    Well Jake, fortunately there was a link provided in the e-mail that took me to a “report a problem” page dedicated to those individuals whose e-mails has been tagged as spam. After filling out the form and explaining why my e-mail was being used to send out mass communications (a subscription service) I assume a real live person must have seen it, because within a week I stopped receiving “spammer” notices and haven’t had any problems since. While I’m glad that the problem has been apparently solved, it was still a pain to see that AOL had taken extra-precautionary methods to stop spammers, only to have legitimate e-mail blocked. Imagine, with only my 40 or so subscribers, how larger websites must have felt to get hundreds of spam messages back.