Steven Hodson Hates Email and So Do I

Why is email stuck in the 80’s? | WinExtra Steven Hodson is out with a post today where he says that email is screwed up.

“The real problem is that our email software is basically nothing more than a dumping ground that we pretend we have a handle on it all when in reality we are willing to declare email bankruptcy faster than a stripper sheds her g-string. In the 20 plus years that email has been the backbone of our information flow the software used to jokingly manage it hasn’t progressed beyond being anything more than the pony express of our cyber lives.”

Amen!

I wrote a blog post a while back about how much I hate email called Email, 1961-2007 RIP.. Thank God! and nothing much has changed in my opinion.

Sure there are aggressive filtering programs, but these are just as bad as no filtering. Having to sift through a junk mail folder for the false positives is no better than having to sift through the junk email in the first place.

My last 10 emails?

10. ¶W¬ü¤kÀu ¶V¬v¹L®üºë¿ï.·m¥ý±À¥X ¿N¿S¿S ¦h¤H.¤º®g.°§´÷¦Ü·¥5197039851

Now WTF is that supposed to be about? Pure gibberish. These are emails that made it into my inbox, by the way, despite having trained my Apple mail many times as to what is junk and what is not. Here’s an idea Apple, why not let me make a rule that anything that is not in English or requires some language pack that I don’t have installed automatically goes into junk. How could I possibly want the email above and how can you possibly not tell that it’s junk?

9. Supernova 2008 Early Registration. I don’t want to go to Supernova. I don’t want to early register. I’d tell them to unsubscribe but even when I aggressively do this so many of these sort of unsolicited emails still show up. I don’t want to join Kevin Werbach. I don’t want to join the Wharton School of Business. I want Kevin Werbach and the Wharton School of Business to stop sending me email like this.

8. We Media Miami – It’s Time To Register. Andrew Nachison and Dale Peskin I do NOT want to go to “We the Media” in Miami. How come all these conference invites always cost money and never involve photowalking?

7. Message-ID: <65e27ed96eb9$11ae332c$173753c0@hlhaaaaaaaaaaad>
From: Integrate Shipping Ltd / Tank Wen. How about this one. No sender. No subject. No nothing. Why can’t Apple’s mail program be smart enough to catch on that if someone is not disclosing a sender name or a subject, yep, the dreaded blank email, it’s probably spam.

6. »È¦æ¥ø·~©ñ´Ú±M·~¨ó§U¿ì²z. Yep, another gibberish email. Crazy thing is I’ve got 50 of these in my junk mail folder for every one that makes it through.

5. NOTIFICATION OF PAYMENT VIA ATM CARD PAYMENT (ATM-822). Pure spam.

4. Fii un profesionist si castiga. Another email in another language that I don’t want.

3. $10 FREE – NO Gimmicks, NO survey, NO minimum purchase, NO joke. Some guy by the name of Ken Jackson thinks I might be interested.

2. Closes. Some email from some fake person named Mike Solomon who wants to sell me leads. WTF? Leads for what? I don’t want them.

1. LiveAuctions: It’s about PEOPLE! Now why in the world would I want to go to the National Western Stock Show – Wednesday, January 23?

So there you go. The honest to God last 10 emails I’ve received with junk mail filtering turned on with my Apple Mail.

I do get some legitimate email as well. Kristopher Tate who I work on Zooomr with sent me an email asking for a Fed Ex tracking number. Charlie Owen over at Microsoft has been helping me with my Media Center PC and sent me an email. Squid Vicious, a photo pal who is going on our Portland photowalk shot me an email that some photos on my blog weren’t showing.

So I do see the value of email. It’s just that I hate it when legitimate emails show up in my junk mail folder and I miss them and so much crap shows up in my inbox with mail filtering. And I hate getting so much quasi legit Kevin Werbach type marketing email that I wish I could just make go away.

What about punishing these spammers? Surely they catch a few every now and again. Why not throw the book at them. Send them to jail for 20 years. Yeah, yeah, I know, a lot of them are Russian or Chinese and we can’t touch them etc. etc. But when we catch an American or a Canadian or a British Spammer, why not throw the book at them? What about this guy Alan Ralsky for instance. How much time do you think he’ll actually spend in jail. What about putting him away for 30 years. Send a message to other spammers that you get real jail time for polluting the internet.

And what about building tools that allow us to reject *all* email coming from say China or Russia? I’d happily cut myself off from the very few legitimate contacts from those countries in exchange for cutting off the spam. Heck, if people from Russia or China need to contact me, why not just do it by Facebook?

It’s sad that for so many, a great communication medium that worked so well years ago is so polluted and hard to use today.

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11 Comments

  1. publicenergy says:

    You get what you pay for really. There are companies like Fastmail who do nothing but email, very well.

    They do it correctly, so it’s possible.

  2. redslime says:

    all I can say is thank god for my gmail. BTW, you can have your domain’s e-mail hosted on gmail.

  3. Todd says:

    Gmail has the best spam protection. And I never even get spams forwarded to my Blackberry using it. And I freely use my email all over the web. I’d hate email, too, if I had to look at spam all day.

    I hear that it works well with iPhone, too.

  4. Greg Furry says:

    Thomas I agree with redslime. Let google handle it. They do it for free.

    I tried contacting you on facebook, pownce and twitter. In the past you have been responsive via those and other avenues. I am not sure email is the problem. Maybe you are just overloaded. With popularity comes other problems…

  5. the marquise de sade says:

    No, GMAIL is not a panacea for this! Especially for someone like Thomas who is starting a viable online property that Google might actually want to “scoop up”.

    Not to sound too paranoid, but I’ve worked in IT for many years and many small/startup businesses don’t think enough about the security of their communications and how vulnerable they are to someone at a large corporation being able to hack into their information. This is critical when you’re dealing with intellectual property or online innovations/acquisitions that add value and you don’t want your competitors to know about. Why do you think Gmail is giving this stuff up for free?

    Being a cynic and a realist, a corporation like that is only going to give away something if they get something in return. Would I put it past them to harvest knowledge out of their users seemingly “private” email? Hell no! Just look at the ads they serve you in gmail and you’ll know they know more about you than most people do! Now imagine if your Zooomr emails about company and technology strategy were filtered through this engine. Fodder for sabotage or at least knowledge you don’t want a whale like Google or Yahoo to have. Not a pretty thought for a start up venture, is it?

    Take a look at Hushmail, I use it and its a really good solution if you want privacy and good spam filtering. They can also do domain/corporate accounts.

  6. It sounds like your problem is Apple Mail. I’ve only used it briefly, but it is the single most unimpressive, useless piece of software I’ve ever seen come out of Cupertino. The Mail app on the iPhone seems to mirror this as well.

    I’ve used Microsoft Outlook 2007 with great success – especially with Vista. They update the spam filter definitions continuously and it learns quickly and I had absolutely no false positives. I now run all my mail through google mail for domains, and have had the most effortlessly spam-free existence since. It really is the best option out there, and now with IMAP support, GMail is the full solution for all my mail needs.

    Since you may not want to try GMail for domains, I suggest checking out the new Entourage in Office 2008. If it works anything like Outlook 2007, it will blow Mail away.

  7. Jeremy says:

    I feel your pain. Using email is a must for me in my business, but keeping your email “secret” enough is difficult. Somehow, whether through a virus on one of your contacts computers, or if your email is publicly posted online, you will get on spam lists.

    I have found currently that Gmail combined with setting my email client (Outlook) to only accept in to my inbox emails that are on my white or client lists works best. I still have to check that spam box in the client and server periodically, but these days that rarely happens. The server catches 99% of the spam, and the Outlook is now trained well enough that anyone I care about gets through.

  8. kurt says:

    thomas some neighbors of yours, http://www.clearcontext.com/ offers are really great plugin for outlook based email. I like it’s ability to categorize and organize, email, tasks, etc..

    your right the email protocols and clients are venerable junkyards, clear context allows me to organize ‘incoming’ content the way i want.

  9. Anonymous says:

    For Apple Mail try Spamsieve – http://c-command.com/spamsieve/ – i only had to train it for a very short time and it works like 99% of the time. i have it run on my home computer where it places everything into the spam folder and since my email is set up as IMAP i don’t get any spam on my iphone. you can run their demo for 30 days to see how it works for you.

  10. At no.4 the language is romanian.
    It means “Be professional and win”.

    Romanian spam, you have to love it:)

    Cheers friend.

  11. If you control your domain name and more specifically the MX records, it might be worth looking into mail proxy services such as this:
    http://www.mailfoundry.com/anti-spam/hosted_anti-spam/

    This would work with any mail provider so long as you can move your MX record to mail foundry. They are not the only provider, but my favorite at this time.