Email Notes: Two Good Ways to Fuck Things Up


It’s funny: I don’t both to write much about email these days. For the most part, that’s because most of the email that I see these days falls into the great undifferentiated pool of average…neither particularly good nor particularly bad.

But then we have times like this weekend, when examples just jump right up and wave at me, saying “Hi there! the organization that sent me hasn’t given any actual thought to email since early 2000!”

Exhibit One: Content
SiteMeter has started sending out an email newsletter good for them. Good for them, also, that they had the good sense to send multi-part emails. Less good, however, that no one at SiteMeter appears to have heard the phrase “images blocked by default,” nor that it’s absurd and irritating to use as the from address. Are you really that opposed to hearing from your customers?

So I’m sure that the creative was attractive and engaging, but—alas—the entire HTML creative was images, which are blocked by default in my email reader. All that I saw of the newsletter was the unsubscribe link, which I then used:


Exhibit Two: Reputation
Apparently much of the email sent to AOL and MSN/Hotmail subscribers by is not getting through. On their Web site, truthout notes that “the Microsoft-Hotmail administrators inform us that they are blocking our communications to Truthout subscribers on their systems due to what they describe as our ‘reputation.'”

While it’s not entirely clear,’s communications on the issue suggests to me that they believe that the “reputation” in question is their political reputation, and the idea that they might have a reputation as an email sender is entirely new and strange to the organization.

It’s possible that I’m misreading the situation, but since the org’s first response was to call for subscribers to put pressure on the ISPs involved, it appears that truthout may only now be learning the ins and outs of sending email in the modern world. And for an organization that depends heavily on email, that’s a very, very big issue to have overlooked.