Verizon: We Know Better than You

Verizon subscribers have had quite the go of it the past few weeks. Three weeks ago their spam filter tripped on a single word in the issue, so the Premium edition was blocked from everyone at Verizon (and their subsidiaries, like GTE.net) — even if you had followed my recommendation and put thisistrue.com and lyris.net aweber.com in your personal “whitelist.”

Naughty Naughty!

Verizon decided that one word was “bad” and bounced every issue. Since there are quite a few Premium subscribers at Verizon, that meant quite a few bounces.

That, in turn, “proved” the issues you paid to get are spam, and thus the next week, they bounced it again. And then the third week, last week, again.

So many of you complained to them that they called me that second week, and promised they’d fix it. (You saw how well they did!) Last week, I jumped through their stupid “Please unblock me, I’m not a spammer” hoops, and this week’s issue will supposedly get through; they insist they’re no longer blocking. We’ll see.

(I’m happy to note: it apparently got through fine. The whole time, there was apparently no interruption with the free edition. Go figure.)

Naturally, all of these subscribers have meanwhile gotten plenty of actual spam, proving just how ineffective the filters can be: you get real spam, but don’t get mail you not only want, but even paid for. How nice.

If you have such problems with your ISP (Internet Service Provider), I suggest you vote with your feet! Dump ISPs who insist they know better than you do what you want. I recommend Google’s gmail: they have the best spam filters in the business (but, if they do make a mistake, you can still find it in the “spam folder” for 30 days).

Extra nice: you can use them even if you can’t dump your ISP (say, Verizon is the only way you can get broadband where you live), and then you don’t have to change your email address if you do change your ISP.

But don’t just quit: tell them why you are dumping them. If they realize they are losing lots of customers because they do a sloppy spam filtering job, they will improve. But it will take a lot of complaints for them to notice it.

Meanwhile, as in any war, there will be casualties among the innocent.

But That Begs the Question!

So after saying that in Monday’s issue, Art in Florida wrote to ask what word tripped their filter? “I can’t be the first premium reader to be on the edge of my seat waiting for the punchline,” he wrote. Surely, he said, it was something about “h u m a n    o r g a n s”, right?!

Well, are you ready?

It’s one of the most shocking words in the English language.

Something that Verizon clearly thinks no one should have to read, see, or think about.

The kind of perversion that corrupts the morals of our youth.

And leads to permanent, raging insanity.

So are you sure you want to know?

OK, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

It was “casino”.

My condolences to your survivors.

44 Comments on “Verizon: We Know Better than You

  1. I won’t be happy with spam “filters” until you can direct them to spell-check headers.

    It would be easy enough for me to tell all of my friends & family not to send me anything with special characters (anything requiring a “shift-something”) and to proofread their headers and not mix numbers and letters (like using C1@LiS or ffarmmacy really makes me want to buy prescription drugs from you!).

    By the way, Randy, I read and followed your spam primer two years ago, and have seen a drastic reduction the amount of spam I get in my accounts — even in my Hotmail account! Just this week, though, I had to direct my local news station to your site. They had a local “expert” on spam reduction encouraging people to opt out of spam my using the email link they provide at the bottom of the letter. I was receiving tons of spam until I quit trusting the hucksters who were just phishing for live email addresses. Now I get only 3-4 a week, over 4 email addresses!

    Thank you!

    Glad it helped you. If only everyone read it, understood it, and practiced what was there, spam would virtually disappear…. -rc

    Reply
  2. I wish I could get Comcast to quit blocking my emails to my family. They have evidently tagged my ISP as a spammer. They’ve been doing it since last summer. Sometimes mail gets through from my main email account and sometimes it doesn’t. When it keeps bouncing I’m forced to use another of my email accounts to send email to my family. I’ve gone round and round with them on this and even my ISP has contacted them. They’ve told my family and my ISP that they aren’t blocking my ISP, but the repeated bounce backs tell a different story.

    Reply
  3. I guess I have been blessed. I’ve been with my local ISP for several years without a hitch. Downtimes are rare and usually last less than an hour. I don’t get spam and unblocking something is pretty easy to do.

    The best part is the customer service. I have called at 3 in the morning and within 5 minutes gotten a real person who stayed on the phone with me until the problem was fixed. Then called the next day just to be sure that everything was still working properly. The longest I have been on hold is less than 5 minutes. I’ve never been passed from person to person and actually have one of the people in my address book because they are now a friend.

    I think a lot of the big companies could learn something from some of these smaller ISP’s. I know I wouldn’t trade mine for anything.

    No doubt about it: you’ve been blessed. -rc

    Reply
  4. I run my own ISP for my email so I don’t have the junky filters verizon uses (I use mail filtering software that works) but when it goes down I have to call my self to complain. :/

    You’re not an ISP. You run your own server, which is different. It’s who you pay for your connection that’s your service provider. -rc

    Reply
  5. Verizon is my ISP, but I do not use their email program.

    One resaon is the dumb spam filter. It’s so dumb, it blocks the user newsletter from Verizon! Can you imagine? Their own spam filter thinks their newsletter is spam!

    In this case, it may be an indication of its true value…. -rc

    Reply
  6. These kinds of stories convince me of the wisdom of my decision to not authorize anyone to filter my email. I run the spam filter that is part of the Mac mail client, and I have it set up to move ALL spam to the spam folder, which I periodically review to make sure nothing landed in there that I wanted. I’m still finding good emails in there after several years of the program “learning”.

    Verizon also supposedly does that — let you/your mail client filter mail, and anything they think is spam goes in the “spam folder” for you to review. They allow users to “whitelist” certain mail to get through. Yet they still intercepted the Premium issues they paid to get. That’s “evil” — they gave users a sense of control that was not really there. And it’s “stupid” — they allowed ONE WORD in proper context to stop delivery of “whitelisted” mail. I hope your provider is “good” and “smart”. -rc

    Reply
  7. Spam is a pain in the butt, but not receiving important or desired emails is infinitely worse. Any spam filter that does not allow you to examine the filtered emails and choose ones to be released is to be avoided if at all possible. Last time I checked, my delete key still worked.

    One extreme example was a friend whose employer’s spam filter would allow all advertising for products to increase the size of his reproductive organ, but would block emails that mentioned the President of the United States by name.

    Reply
  8. I had Insightbb, recently they were bought out by Comcast and the transition has SUCKED. I can receive but not send email. Also, I can’t connect to any https secure site like my BANK. Yeah, that sucks.

    Reply
  9. Re: Gilah’s experience.

    After getting inexplicably blacklisted & blocked at Cornell U. or Ithaca College (I’m a pastor, & communicate with parishioners in both institutions), an IT guy at CU identified my problem.

    My Broadband service with Verizon uses “dynamic IP” – meaning, every time my modem goes off and on again (I switch it, or we have a power outage) it gets a new IP address assigned to it from the pool of them that Verizon possesses (versus “static IP” – which is forever assigned to that piece of equipment).

    If one is assigned to me that someone else had been using to spam people (purposefully or inadvertently), and it had been blacklisted by institutional supporters (I forget the name – it’s a subscription base for institutions that identifies spammers, notes the IP address of origin, and uploads a list to the institution whose mail servers automatically reject anything from that source), then my mail doesn’t go through.

    Only quick solution I’ve found on this one is to reboot my modem – get a new IP assigned, and skip merrily along.

    Comcast may also be a subscriber to one of those blacklisting systems. Reboot the modem and see if it improves your luck. Once you are going through, if at all possible, don’t ever then shut it off & lose the functioning address.

    There are quite a few such blacklisting services, some better than others. But yes, I use a static IP in part for the reasons you describe. -rc

    Reply
  10. There is something to be said for Free email: good and bad. I’ve had pretty good luck with GMail so far. Only one or two messages a week make it past the spam block. Hotmail on the other hand, while better in recent years, seems to always allow one particular spammer in. University of Phoenix to be specific; Usually two messages at a time (another clue that it might be spam).

    Hotmail and Yahoo both have either rejected TRUE in the past or, much worse, discarded it without putting it in the user’s spam folder OR sending a bounce message. It got so bad that I warned Premium subscribers away from it. I have never seen that at gmail, though, and that’s why it’s my top choice. That, and its ads don’t flash in my face, demanding attention away from why I’m there. -rc

    Reply
  11. All you need to do to avoid spam is to use gmail. It has not given me a “false positive” in months, literally. And if it ever did, you could find it easily and put it right. I turned off my isp’s spam filter altogether.

    And since mail is not downloaded, viruses etc can’t pass either.

    It’s brilliant…

    Yep: I’ve been recommending it for years. I think it’s THE best free email solution out there. -rc

    Reply
  12. I’m having real difficulty deciding whether this is in fact the most trouble-making filter criterion I’ve ever heard of. Some time ago there was an HR department that noticed a significant decline in the academic qualifications of its applicants. It took them months to identify the cause: their spam filter was rejecting every application or resume that contained the word “cum” (as in “cum laude” for example).

    Reply
  13. Before suggesting gmail, you might want to check out: gmail-is-too-creepy.com

    It is a good idea to use an email address which is separate from your ISP so that you can change providers and keep your email address. There are free and pay services for such things, but the most important thing is that you have complete control over what is considered spam.

    I removed the link (but left the domain) because the site is gone. I guess it’s not “creepy” anymore. -rc

    Reply
  14. I use Google Apps for my domain.

    My 30 day window for spam messages received to my domain is as of right now is 973,545. Yes, almost ONE MILLION spam messages received in the last 30 days.

    And I used to check it for real messages, but I have had virtually no false positives. They do let through about 100 messages per day, but the overall percentage is pretty low and it is easy to mark as SPAM. =)

    There isn’t a “whitelist” per se, but adding an email address to your contact list seems to work as one.

    But if I do tell it something is not spam, it is good about letting it through the next time. Someone at Verizon just screwed up their priority of whitelist over spam filters.

    It was nice of you to go to the trouble of fighting them to get it fixed. When someone goes up against you, the odds that they are going to lose are better than any casino.

    (Yeah, I just wanted to use THE word.) =)

    Reply
  15. My personal email address that I get True at I’ve had for almost a decade. It is hosted by a small ISP in Seattle called Puget Sound Network. They offer spam filtering, but I very easily had it turned off so I don’t have to worry about my email not making it to me. I’ll filter my own spam, thanks.

    However, that’s not the end of it. My ISP is Cox. They recently decided to filter my OUTGOING email. If their spam filters think the email I’m sending out is spam, they’ll reject it out of hand. Since they block port 25, you have to use their SMTP (outgoing for those who don’t know) email server. I ran into this recently and became very upset about it.

    So, I called up PSNI and asked them if there was anything they could do. They reconfigured their SMTP server to allow connections on a non-standard port. Now I can use their server and not have to worry about Cox passing judgment on the email I want to send out. That’s customer service! 🙂

    Reply
  16. I’m sorry but I disagree with your glowing endorsement of gmail spam filters. That’s the most frustrating part of my gmail experience! The trouble is that they are constantly marking good email as spam, and I get so much spam that it’s very time consuming to have to scan through all the junk to find the one or two good emails that get trapped. What good is a filter if I have to do all my own filtering anyway?!?

    I would rather use POP so I could filter everything myself using my own client. Problem is gmail filters it before I can retrieve it with POP and there’s no way to turn gmail spam filtering off, so I’m forced to use the web interface anyway.

    That being said, there are many advantages to gmail which is why I use it, and like Gerry (one of the other comment posters) I use Google Apps for my domain. But there’s always room for improvement!

    I do agree there’s always room for improvement, but I don’t recall ever seeing one false positive on my gmail account. That’s not bad! -rc

    Reply
  17. Having lived outside the U.S. for many years, I’ve never had the “opportunity” to use any of the services mentioned by name — I left the U.S. before there was a [public] Internet!

    Unfortunately for me, I get tons of spam. I have a website, and for years I didn’t know robot programs could (and did) harvest my email address from there, where it’s all over the place. Even doing a global replace of my “username@XXX.com” with “username [at] XXX.com” didn’t help, nor did advising my hosting service do much good.

    I also use Yahoo!, and in the past had a Hotmail account. Last year I got a Gmail account, though Yahoo! remains my main account, as I import emails to my own website into it.

    In Yahoo, not counting the emails I import, I get well over a hundred spam emails per day. On the other hand, once in awhile — though hot often, to be fair — emails such as “This Is True” get shunted to the junk folder, even the free edition. I was always puzzled as to why, but now that I know “casino” is a word that can end human life on Earth, I guess I understand. (Writing the “C” word thrills me with the same excitement I felt when I was 11 or 12 and dared utter the “F” word!!!)

    Though I use Gmail on a far more limited basis, my experience with it has been excellent in the year or so I’ve had it. I haven’t migrated everyone over to that address simply because there are so *many* people in my address book.

    I don’t know if what I’m about to say is technically possible, but if it is, I’ve long wondered if the government here sometimes blocks stuff. A number of times friends here have asked why I haven’t answered some email they sent; the short answer is “I never got it.” (I almost always do wade through my junk folder.) Ditto, though far more rarely, with emails coming from outside Thailand. I know the government blocks certain websites, most (in)famously when the previous military government blocked YouTube.com completely over a single video deemed (correctly) to be offensive to the King of Thailand.

    If they can keep me from getting out, I suppose they can keep emails from getting in — even before they reach my Bangkok-based ISP. I suppose that because though there are a number of ISP’s here, they all have to use government-run gateways for both domestic and international connections.

    Adding fuel to the fire is that I *used* to subscribe to the premium edition of “This Is True,” but when it was time to renew last year, I was unable to do so, even after corresponding privately with Randy about it. And that’s not criticism of Randy, not at all. Hell, I’m just darned glad to be able to receive at least the free edition. (I also wish he made so much money he could multiply his staff many-fold so as to make his various publications *daily* ones!!!)

    The Internet. I love it. Can’t live without it. The Internet. I hate it. Can’t keep my sanity using it….

    Reply
  18. Verizon is our ISP, supplying it with their version of DSL. As a result we have email accounts with Verizon, though we do not use them (I maintain a mail server here). However, I monitor the two accounts, since this arm of Verizon seems to think that we should only receive communications from them through their own email system, and not an address of our choosing.

    No one, other than ourselves and Verizon, know that these accounts exist. The only mail we get through these accounts is spam and notifications from Verizon. I can understand how we get those mails, but they should be blocked by Verizon’s filtering since they are generally the same exact email advertising help for erectile dysfunction, and, about 90% of those emails are sent through open proxies, with many of the rest failing other common tests for spam. Repeated requests to Verizon have fallen on deaf ears, and the spam still comes through. So much of it that I suspect Verizon is getting a cut of any profits made by the spammers.

    The fact that this mail gets trapped by a relatively simple mail filter using Bayesian technology, that did not even have to be trained to recognize this as spam, makes me doubt the ability of their software effectively blocking spam.

    FWIW, I just checked the webmail version of Verizon’s service and there is no spam folder containing suspected spam email, until I cleaned out the Inbox myself, and deleted all the email there as spam.

    Reply
  19. Jeff, from Redmond WA, grouses about gmail’s spam filter, recommended by Randy. Well, I use gmail *and* its spam filter, which is better than my university webmail provider’s filter by a long shot. But — sorry, Randy — it’s not perfect. I don’t remember their having tagged any of Randy’s mails as spam, but they do tag the occasional good mail as spam, which they allow you to send back easily to the Inbox, which, as someone commented, usually suffices to ‘whitelist’ that address, at least for that user.

    Now, Jeff, while my comment implies that you are right, it is not such a drastic thing to get a few false positives. You *do* have to check your spam folder, but it is fast. Every few days, or at most a week, or so, I check my spam folder. Often, it has hundreds of messages by then. Even so, the checking is pretty easy: each page it gives you has 100 supposedly spam messages. Just go down the list of senders, and when you see one you want, mark it and hit the ‘not spam’ button, and it goes to the Inbox. In checking, use the ‘Page Down’ key, when your eye gets to the bottom of the display, keep your eye there, and then read up, reverse, etc. If you don’t find any useful messages (most are viagra, cialis, penis lengtheners, etc., &/or with obvious Asian characters and can be scanned rapidly), then click on ‘All’ and then on ‘delete forever’. The next page pops up, and you repeat the process, which can also be done from the bottom up by hitting ‘Page up’ instead of ‘Page Down’. With about 500 spams, this actually takes me only a couple of minutes. Of course I would rather not waste time with doing it, but I’d also rather have a million dollars in the bank. Take your pick: risk losing the occasional email or take, say, 5 minutes per week to check your spams.

    By the way, the spams they occasionally let through (and I’m mystified by them, since they appear to be nearly identical to many of the hundreds that they catch) can usually be ‘cured’ (ie, they won’t get through again) by marking them and clicking on the ‘mark as spam’ button.

    *My* complaints with gmail are (1) that the supposedly automatic mail filters don’t work for me as advertised and (2) they refuse to put a ‘forward’ button at the *top*, so I have to scroll down often long messages to do so. But that’s for a different discussion.

    To be sure, I never said gmail’s spam filters were “perfect”. Rather, I said “there’s always room for improvement”. Still, their filters are the best I’ve seen, and I definitely stand by that, even though they’re not “perfect”. -rc

    Reply
  20. What’s a person do to who actually worked on these spam products. I spent 18 at Eli Lilly supporting their software to create documents for drug submissions to the FDA. The drug going through at the time I was there: Cialis. If I state this in an email, I’m a spammer.

    Reply
  21. This is for “Jim — Puebla, Mexico”. There is a forward option at the top of an email message in gmail. Use the arrow next to the reply button and you get a whole list of options, among them is forward.

    Reply
  22. Verizon? Ah yes, a name I remember well. Not the first time it’s done its customers a great disservice. You may well have covered the 2004/5 Verizon Incident at the time (I wasn’t subscribing to This is True then so I don’t know) but here is what I wrote then about Verizon in a small-circulation trade newsletter that I edited for many years:

    Shrinking the world
    A number of jokes have been circulated which revolve around the idea that Americans (the misleading term by which we refer to US citizens) don’t know what the phrase “the rest of the world” really means. Particularly for the benefit of those who consider such jokes an injustice, here is a sad but true story (which you can easily verify) about an attempt to shrink the world by denying the existence of Europe.

    The US Internet Service Provider Verizon is facing “class action” legal proceedings for the way in which it has operated its email systems since December 2004. Essentially, Verizon blocked all email messages coming from Europe to its email subscribers, without bothering to mention that it was doing so. People who complained about missing messages were given a variety of excuses by Verizon staff, and some were persuaded to upgrade to more expensive Internet packages – only to find that this did not solve the problem.

    Verizon’s official excuse is that it was doing this as a spam-blocking exercise – but that in any case, it could not see why US citizens would have any need to engage in email correspondence with people in Europe, and anyway, if the matter was really important, they could use the phone. Coincidentally, Verizon is one of the largest telephone service providers in the USA.

    Domestic users may have been pretty irritated by this, but business users have lost money, and Verizon made the serious tactical error of blocking services to at least two legal companies – hence the legal proceedings.

    Although these commenced in January, as late as mid-June people are known to be still having problems in sending emails from Europe to Verizon’s customers. Some, of course, have taken their business to ISPs that do know that the rest of the world exists.

    If you think the Editor is making this story up, put ‘Verizon email blocking’ into Google. You will get thousands of hits.

    (info from various sources, via Google)
    ***
    My partner and I both run international Web-based businesses, and were doing so at the time; it’s maybe fortunate for us that UK service providers can’t afford to adopt this kind of attitude!

    Reply
  23. Google “Verizon Math”.

    Enough said.

    Ah yes, that’s when the Verizon cellular folks were sure that .002 dollars and .002 cents was the same thing, when the former is 100 times the amount of the latter. Classic. -rc

    Reply
  24. > I recommend Google’s gmail: they have the best spam filters in the business (but, if they do make a mistake, you can still find it in the “spam folder” for 30 days).

    I disagree with your recommendation. Your bias as a mass emailer likely keeps you from seeing the another side of the spam issue.

    I signed up for my Gmail account about two years ago, used it one time testing it from my AOL account to the Gmail account and decided to stick with my 10+ year old AOL ID.

    In that time of non-use, I find that Gmail dumps *ALL* spam into my spam list (I.E. apparently they don’t delete any spam!).

    I write articles on my hobby and get an occasion email regarding what I’ve written about, obviously from someone I don’t know. I don’t want to lose those amongst the bunch of spam that Gmail leaves me.

    With the high number (~15-20) of daily Gmail spam, it’s easy to miss the occasional genuine email from a stranger. Currently (Mar 3), I have 734 spams since Feb 1 in that list. There are 2 junk emails in my non-spam list right now (I have only my own ID in the contact list).

    I just wonder how many more spams I’d be getting if I’d ever used gmail and spread my ID around as I have with my AOL ID?

    AOL, like Verizon, deletes the obvious spams leaving me with about 4-6 junk emails daily. Quite a difference. For myself – I prefer they dump the trash.

    I recommend gmail precisely because they don’t make decisions for you. An email with the word “casino” in it is obviously spam and should be deleted without your having to look at it, right? Then you just lost mail you paid to get. Tonight’s issue has the word “breasts” in it. Again, people paid to get that mail. I’m willing to bet many won’t. If they have gmail, they can recover it easily. Under your proposal, they have no chance. I’d rather control what I get myself, thank you, than let someone who’s incredibly stupid program my spam filter for me, like Verizon did. You’re welcome to your way, but the reason gmail is good is they don’t do that. -rc

    Reply
  25. We have Verizon as an ISP. I use Gmail, my wife uses a Verizon email address, downloading to Pegasus on the PC.

    For about the last 6 months, she can’t receive any emails from my daughter at work, in spite of that address (and that server!) being whitelisted. Of course, my daughter can’t mail anything to her own Comcast account, either…

    Everything comes through to me, as expected, so I forward them to my wife. That apparently doesn’t trigger Verizon’s incompetent spam filter!

    Reply
  26. I have my email redirected through my professional organization (acm.org) so I never, ever put my real address out into the wild. The ACM folks have their own spam service but I quickly discovered that I was losing newsletter subscriptions, both paid and unpaid. At the time, the spam filter was an automatic part of the re-direct service, not an option. I called and insisted that they turn off the filter on my account because (like gmail) I wanted to make the choice myself.

    PS I can see why they targeted “casino”, although the implementation was inexcusably clumsy. Any filter that uses any single word should be outright illegal. My spam is currently roughly equal parts of (1) body part/performance (2) fake watches/purses (3) gambling.

    Reply
  27. I have really liked my gmail account which I have had for a couple of years now. The spam filter allows me to pick and choose which to delete or all at once. It’s easy and fast. I just do it whenever I look at the emails so it does not stack up and I can just give the names a glance and not even look at the potential content. Takes about a second or two.

    Reply
  28. I’ve been extremely happy with my Gmail account because it almost never gets what is spam and what isn’t spam wrong. I do empty my spam box every couple of days so the messages don’t accumulate.

    Reply
  29. “How dare you say that Verizon, Comcast, AOL, etc don’t have our best interests in mind when they decide that there is something that will annoy, upset, or otherwise make us unhappy. Like the government, they only want us to be happy. I don’t want to think about what I don’t like, so let them make that decision for me.”

    Well, obviously the above quote is getting to be the mantra of the ‘politically correct’. BUT, not mine. Nor, I hope, those who can actually use the 3+ lbs of gray matter holding their ears apart.

    Knocking on wood, gmail won’t go the way of the above mentioned ISPs, or others of like no-mind.

    Keep doing what your do, Randy, and I’ll keep enjoying reading it.

    Reply
  30. I agree with Randy on this one. I use SpamCop.net for filtering, and the only emails that get dropped are ones that contain viruses. Nothing else gets deleted unless _I_ tell it to do so.

    Oh, Bob from Portland, I long for the days of 15-20 spams a day, or your “huge” 734 spams in the folder for 31 days. I finally got around to clearing out my spam folder after about 3 weeks, and it had over 65,000 (yes, sixty five thousand!) emails in it.

    While I also have (several) gmail accounts, I rarely use them, and mostly just grabbed them during the “invitation only” phase.

    And, as for just how much brains spammers have, I get spam to my “ThisIsASpamTrap” gmail account, which appears only in my .sig on some emails I send out. Anything that gets sent there (and it gets quite a few) is reported as spam.

    It’s scary to consider that spammers pick up your address from email “signatures”, but I see mail with that has been posted on the web (including at SpamCop), so no wonder. Still, it’s a good reminder that forwarded mail can and will be scanned by scum; we should all use care in forwarding. And now you know why I took me email address out of my sig several years ago. -rc

    Reply
  31. Gmail certainly has some interesting features. But, how many popular mail readers do you know of that can’t parse HTML? Hmmm, just one – GMAIL!!

    Sure they have all kinds of fancy-dancy features but come on – let’s get with the millennium. I am dreading the day when one of my customers actually starts using Gmail, because my beautiful data reports look like absolute crap once Gmail gets a hold of them.

    Reply
  32. I had an experience with Verizon, myself. I frequently email my sister, who lives over 1000 miles from me. A couple of months ago I emailed her to tell her about me winning some money at Creek Nation Casino. A couple of days later, I noticed that she didn’t respond so I emailed her again but with no reply. After a couple of weeks, I called her to ask if every thing was ok since she hadn’t emailed a reply recently. She said that she hadn’t received anything from me for a while.

    Upon checking, I found that I was being bounced from her account for spam. I didn’t know what I had done to have gotten the bounce. Since you wrote to tell what caused This Is True to be bounced, I now know. I have talked my sister into getting a gmail account to avoid this in the future. THANKS FOR THE HEADS UP, RANDY!

    You never know what you might learn in TRUE. 🙂 -rc

    Reply
  33. Gmail is okay, but I don’t use that account for much other than a secondary spam filter and for bouncing emails to my Yahoo account. If I suspect that my email may be released into the wild, but I still need to get an answer back for that one time, I use it (I have a separate account for sites I don’t trust but need to register to get access to). Gmail rarely forwards spam, but important stuff gets through fine.

    I just don’t like not having folders to sort my emails into like I do with Yahoo. I don’t want to sort through 15 pages of emails to find something I need to reference (I’m not anal, I just have emails from five years ago that I sometimes need… really).

    I’ve noticed something with Yahoo that raises a question: Is the Free edition of True sent from a different address than the Premium edition? I ask because Yahoo sorts the Free edition to my Bulk folder, while the Premium goes to my Inbox every time. (Yeah, I get both 🙂

    Yes, the “From” address between the two issues is different, even though they come from the same server. If TRUE goes into a spam folder, please be sure to click the “Not Spam” button, which helps “train” the filters.

    As for folders, indeed gmail doesn’t have them. Instead, they have “labels” which serves the same function. -rc

    Reply
  34. I’ve been using Hotmail like forever, and never have a problem. Most of the items in the spam folder are spam and most of the items in the inbox are legit, and I can decide what is or is not objectionable.

    Reply
  35. I was listening to Italian radio last week and was surprised to hear a commercial for a “casino.” In Italian, “casino” doesn’t mean “gambling establishment.” It means “brothel.” Maybe Verizon’s spam filter knows Italian. Or maybe not…

    Huh: I had never heard that, but indeed an English-Italian online dictionary I checked agrees -rc

    Reply
  36. I love love love Gmail and its spam filters. VERY very rarely does a good email get into spam, and I tell Gmail, and that’s that. Did I say I love Gmail? I do, and have for years now. It’s perfect for me, even if I’ve never really used all the functions like labels.

    You couldn’t pay me to go back to Hotmail. Or use Yahoo. Blech! I didn’t ever use Yahoo that much, but one time a spammer hit my hotmail and I had over 700 spams from the same address. Some spammer’s bot broke, and all I could do for hours was sit there and delete delete etc. I think finally hotmail did something, but who knows how much GOOD email I lost?

    That being said… all the people talking about all those big companies like Verizon. You don’t know spam. We have a tiny privately owned phone company here, and they provide NO filters at all. It’s gotten so bad that my boyfriend spent a couple days setting up filters with Outlook Express to try to filter at least =some= of it. That literally took him hours, and I can’t figure out why he bothered. I told him to just go back to where he wanted good mail from and subscribe again from something like YEAH his Gmail address.

    But he doesn’t want to… so I told him he could set up filters. Sigh. He’s happy, tho, as it went from 600 per day to a mere 80 out of 1088 today.

    I think he should quit downloading all that spam, leave it on the server until it breaks something and the darned small phone company starts providing filters. I just heard about someone whose ISP =made= her get a Gmail acct! Switched to gmail from your ISP? Will wonders never cease? That’s great imho!

    Did I mention I love Gmail? I never miss an issue of True. 🙂

    Reply
  37. I don’t like ISP’s which limit how much email I can send or receive, nor do I like ISP’s that provide crummy service, which causes me to often switch ISP’s. So a few years ago, I bought my own domain, which would remain constant no matter which ISP I used. Of course, having my own domain is only part of the answer; I also needed a host server for my domain. So imagine my surprise when I found out that several major ISP’s (Comcast, for one) was routinely blocking ALL of my email. And now my own ISP is blocking my email.

    I found a few places called blacklist databases or something like that, and sure enough, my domain is among them. So I contacted them to find out why. Apparently I’m not actually a spammer, but I COULD be a spammer and that’s good enough to block me. I need to contact my own ISP and beg them to reconsider me being a potential spammer, and they, in return, will try to convince everyone else.

    This whole silliness reminds me of the witch trials. Kill everyone, and anyone who survives MUST be a witch who needs to be killed.

    Reply
  38. In German casino is spelled Kasino – and means Officers Mess in the barracks. Maybe Verizon knows German and just is against any form of military presence?

    Reply
  39. This comment is directed mostly at Vyx, but also anyone else who uses an email service that does not filter at all.

    There is a great spam filtering program called Popfile, which can be found at popfile.sourceforge.net. Like the Popfile website says, “POPFile is open source software released under the General Public License.”, which basically means this is a free program to use.

    I have been using popfile personally now for about 4 years, and iirc, it was something I had found out about through ThisisTrue.

    You do have to “train” the program, which means a lot of spam will still get through….at first. After a few days the spam count will drop drastically until it’s down to the level I’m at now. 2000 messages incoming but only 10-15 total messages land in my inbox, and in the last 4 years of using the program only 2 good messages mis-flagged as “spam” because they did contain a lot of spam “trigger words”.

    Reply
  40. Here’s a good laugh for you: this morning, I found AT&T’s own newsletter in my AT&T spam folder! It’s nice to know they realize the value of their missives.

    One of my Verizon subscribers said that Verizon’s spam filter also catches their own newsletters. Figures! -rc

    Reply
  41. I’ve been on the internet for years, and get very little spam, with zero filters. Know how? Simple:

    DO NOT PLACE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS in ANY public place. Realize that there are automated search engines scanning the web all the time, looking for any email addresses in public places. Do not allow your address to be found this way. Also, just be smart about lists you sign up for.

    There is one way I get spam, and it’s YOUR FAULT. Well, mostly your fault. You let your computer get infected with a virus, and it scanned your address books (hard drive) and found my email. Usually, it’s the email address I use for Windows Live (MSN) Messenger that is actually found this way, and spammed.

    I AM UNHAPPY WITH MICROSOFT, and I NEED YOUR HELP! Despite Microsoft’s huge fallacy on this matter, their instant messenger tool became one of the most popular over others that were smarter in this regard. The problem? Using your Email address to identify your account in a Messenger program is just stupid. There is no need to expose yourself in this way.

    If you use Windows Live Messenger, PLEASE NOTIFY Microsoft that you would like them to change their credentials system to no longer use email addresses for Messenger identification.

    Lastly, scold those “friends” of yours that don’t know how to use BCC, and effectively pass your email address on to untold numbers of people. Oh, read Randy’s primer on this subject too, of course.

    You can do all of this and still get spam. The primer gives some examples as to how. -rc

    Reply
  42. Poor Darrin, imposed upon by all those Microsoft email clients. I wish to protest my innocence in that regard, though, since I do not and have never used a Microsoft email program. MS Messenger? junk. As Darrin reports, a huge quantity of spam is propagated automatically by these email clients using the address book and auto-forward features.

    Darrin, and others, should be grateful to the growing percentage of computer users who employ Macintosh OS and who have systems which cheerfully ignore those worms & viruses which inhabit MS-land.

    Naturally, as the market share of the Mac OS grows, so will its appeal to hackers & spammers. But for now, there is a level of comfort and reliability only dreamed of by all those Win-XP users.

    So Darrin, you have reason to complain, but leave me and my OS-10 out of it.

    Reply
  43. Sorry Randy, gotta disagree with your assessment of gmail’s spam filters as the best. Just this morning, a number of my newsletters wound up in my spam “folder”. On the other hand, I don’t remember getting false negatives — i.e., spam in my inbox. But I do remember one mail I sent out that they blocked supposedly because it was spam. Man, was I furious! I wrote a strong letter to support calling their spam filter stupid. Nothing. My mail? It had to do with Free Software — as in Richard M. Stallman’s Free Software Foundation. Not the free software you get from warez sites or those offering OEM copies.

    IMHO, the best spam filters belong to Yahoo!Mail — hardly any false negatives or false positives.

    I have a Yahoo mail account. Yahoo is so bad that I abandoned it for anything useful. False positives, false negatives, and incredibly obvious ones at that. Mail that disappears rather than bounce. It goes on and on.

    I didn’t say gmail is perfect, I said it’s the best. As I’ve said again and again, there’s always room for improvement. But it’s heads and shoulders above Yahoo, Hotmail, and others. Let’s hope it stays that way. -rc

    Reply
  44. I use a company called DSLExtreme. Their spam filter doesn’t catch everything, and I get false positives, but by far they give me EXACTLY what I want: a connection to the internet, an email address, and no pushed content. Unless I’ve specifically blocked an address, any suspect messages are moved to the spam folder, where it sits for my review.

    Reply

Leave a Comment