Sunday, December 1, 2002

One reader’s opinion on HTML mailing


We've been experimenting with sending out our DominoPower tips in HTML format. Editor-in-Chief David Gewirtz asked for reader feedback, and this month in Letters to the Editor you can see one example.

Smells like spam

You asked us to let you know if we encounter any problems reading your mailing.

First of all, I nearly dumped it due to the unfamiliar sender, your personal email address instead of DominoPower.

Being very careful about spam, I next examined headers and contents using document properties in Notes (i.e., without actually opening the message).

That didn't comfort me very much. The received header showed <header> Received: from ([]) by (Lotus Domino Release 5.0.5) with SMTP id 2002112202553041:5086 ; Fri, 22 Nov 2002 02:55:30 +0100 </header>. This is typical of spam, where the delivering mail server is trying to disguise its address!

The body showed that it was an HTML -message, and I definitely do not like HTML messages. They are often several times bigger than plain text, and they often contain links to image resources that will be fetched automatically when I open the message. This technique is known to be used by spammers to have an automatic confirmation that the mail was opened and sometimes even by whom!

Please, next time you plan to send peculiar mailings give us a warning first.

I'm a happy reader of DominoPower tips-I even supplied one myself some time ago--and I hope that you will continue supplying the plain text version!

If you feel that fancy formatting will be crucial, what about posting the HTML version on your Web site (where HTML belongs) and include a link in the mailing?

Best regards
Bjarne Sloth
Holstebro, Denmark

Editor-in-Chief David Gewirtz responds

Yeah, we're doing this mondo upgrade and not everything is working correctly. I definitely didn't want to use my name as the sender. The list processing software seemed to like the idea. That's going to be changed soon, back to the address everyone's come to love.

As for HTML format, we are going to do both HTML and text format and let you choose. But for now the new mailer seems to hate the idea of text mailings. It wraps everything and makes it look crappy. That will hopefully be resolved shortly. I definitely appreciate your comments and will factor them in as we get our new systems online.

Bjarne responds to David's response

Thank you very much for your explanation.

These things can be hard to tame!

I'm using the Notes client R5. The message itself looked just fine once I dared to open it.

David has the last word

Cool, thanks! Yeah, tell me about it. Verizon's a month behind in hooking up service we were "guaranteed," and the servers and I are going toe-to-toe in seven rounds. I love technology, but some weeks (ok, months) it can be a definite challenge!