Note: This is long-since solved, but leaving the page up for context, since many sites linked to it. -rc
I’ve given up trying to work with Yahoo, which represents the largest domain subscribed to True. There are more than 20,000 addresses within the Yahoo.com domain on True‘s distribution (plus a couple thousand more on variants such as yahoo.co.uk, yahoo.ca, etc.)
But most of them are not getting True anymore: Yahoo has blocked us. Why? Because of idiots (dare I call them “yahoos”? Filo and Yang chose “yahoo” as their name because it meant “rude, unsophisticated, uncouth” — and it fits).
These are yahoos who ask to be put on True’s distribution, then confirm that request, and …then click the “This is Spam” button when they don’t recognize the mailing or simply don’t want it anymore. Yes, those yahoos have screwed thousands upon thousands of others who really do want my newsletter. Too bad: Yahoo is listening to the yahoos instead: they’re blocking it. To them, we’re “spammers” — and of course, no protestations from “spammers” count.
Clicking “Not Spam” Helps
As far as I can tell, there’s only one group of people with Yahoo addresses who are still getting their issues: those who have at one time found True in the “spam folder” and clicked the “Not Spam” button. But for the rest it’s too late: we’re now blocked, and you will not find issues there so you can hit that button.
As of now, about 70 percent of the Yahoo addresses are blocked. That’s more than 15,000 folks. That’s more than 10 percent of my entire distribution. And that’s catastrophic: it has the potential to kill True‘s newsletter. Nearly 15 percent of my audience, as of this week, which means 15 percent of my revenue, including 15 percent of my ad revenue, has suddenly stopped.
It’s the biggest crisis in True‘s more than 14 years online. And it’s (sigh) right in the middle of a worldwide economic slowdown. What lovely timing.
Yahoo is over-represented in my distribution because True is so old: it’s been publishing since 1994, when Yahoo was a little collection of links. They didn’t get their millionth page view until late 1994 (according to Wikipedia), well after I had over 100,000 online readers every week, some of whom had to go through a lot of effort to get their issues (through BBS gateways, UUCP bang addresses, and other now-archaic means).
True: Older than Yahoo Mail
Yahoo mail opened to the public in 1997 (when it acquired Rocketmail). That was after I first editorialized on what a problem spam could become — what’s now the Spam Primer.
I take no solace in the fact that I was right about spam; it has grown so much that the world’s first for-profit entertainment email publication is having massive delivery problems because its shiny little jewel can’t stand out among the garbage.
Yeah, I’m mad: it’s my own readers who have done this. Addled idiots can’t click “unsubscribe” after they asked to get these issues, lumping the white hat guy who warned them about spam in with the criminals who send spam. But they’re gone now: they don’t see the carnage they caused, even if they liked, even loved, True. It’s like shooting a gun into a crowd of people, then walking away before seeing what happened.
I’ve had occasional problems with other big mail sites too, like AOL, Hotmail/MSN, and more, usually because of those same false “this is spam” complaints. Currently, I think all those other problems are cleared up, but I’m already seeing a revenue slide. It will likely get worse over time.
Can I reverse it and keep True going? I’m not sure. It’s possible True will become Premium-only (plus the few newspapers who carry it), which would certify you all as victims of the spam war.
Can You Help?
Yes. Complain to your provider every time you miss an issue. Tell them you asked to get True and responded to a verification request, and that no one can get on the distribution without both of those steps. Spammers don’t do that: they add you whether you want their mail or not. (And when was the last time you wanted spam?!)
If you complain, maybe they’ll get the message that their customers really want True and other legitimate email publications. But if they don’t listen, give your business to someone else!
Next, help me replace those tens of thousands of lost readers. I’ve asked you again (and again and again!) to help “spread the word.” Few have bothered. If you really can’t be bothered, you may lose True forever. Please tell at least 50 friends now! I need them more than ever. Please promote True on your web site or blog. Reporters: I need articles in print publications. I can help you with pretty much any angle you want.
And if you have a few bucks to spare, help prove that True is worthy of your support: upgrade to a Premium subscription (I just hope you have a non-Yahoo address for it). Or sign up for two years and get the second year for a discount. (And yes, sales of “Get Out of Hell Free” cards and related products help too, not to mention True book collections.) If you’ve done any of these things, Thank You: you helped.
If you have more than that to spare, consider sponsoring issues, either with ads or replacing the ads with a sponsorship message (contact me with your offer). You can also sponsor True’s online archive or this blog — again, contact me with your offer.
It is possible to turn this disaster into a new start, but only with help. If you care about True, I need your help right now. Just close this page and True may go away, or do something yourself, rather than hope someone else does. Really; it’s that simple. Do you care?
Update: Bloggers Take Up the Cause
I’ll post just some of the links to bloggers around the world who are working to increase awareness:
- Allen Williams in Japan, who also posted a “Digg” (links removed: no longer online)
- Andrew Hackard on LiveJournal
- Kelson in California, who demonstrates how customizable the True-a-Day widget is!
- Kelson (I assume the same one) at K2
- Shawn Collins at AffiliateTip
- Danni Matzk in the U.K. (link removed: no longer online)
- Janet’s Soapbox
- Leo Notenboom of Ask-Leo.com
- Jeff Carneal at Beechtalk (link removed: no longer online)
- Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow! (link removed: no longer online)
- Wyldraven at Insane Journal
- A complaint has been lodged at My Biggest Complaint (link removed: no longer online)
- Blogging Vermont Style
- Intern News Service (in German; link removed: no longer online)
- The local newspaper in Ridgway, Colorado (population 750) did a great job explaining the issue (link removed: no longer online).
- And a brief on Slashdot brought in a fair amount of traffic.
I heard from a senior tech at Yahoo at the end of the day on August 5: “Your IP [address] should have no issues delivering now.”
Short, sweet, to the point. Now the work begins to restore all the “held” subscribers, and with luck we’ll have all 15,000 back by Friday’s issue. [Accomplished! See full update.]