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January 5, 2004

The Great Wall of America (Online)

Posted by Mike on January 5, 2004 4:56 PM

I've suspected for a while now that AOL's spam filters have a screw loose. Communicating with one professor, for instance, has always depended on making sure I fire up a mail client that uses my ISP's SMTP relay (instead of the one I maintain on the server anyhow). Today I got a bounce message from a scoop post that said a URL in the message being bounced had been the subject of complaints. Easy enough to consult the archive and check messages against the logged bounce. The URLs in the message AOL was so troubled by? An add for MSN appended by Hotmail (the host from which the user sent the offending message) and a link to a USA Today article.

<Cue wild generalization based on one experience>

Maybe it's just time for AOL to go back behind the wall it used to maintain when it was nothing more than an ambitious BBS for consumers with brand new 2400 baud modems. Then it'll never have to worry about spam ever again (except when its user population turns on itself), and the rest of us will be free of wondering why our AOL-imprisoned correspondents are randomly unable to receive our mail.



This happened to my last company all the time. It was like an ongoing ritual, fighting AOL to get off the spam list. The basic mechanism seems to be that AOL users treat the "this is spam" reporting button as if it were a "delete" key, and AOL believes them.

I'm not sure who's stupider.

Posted by: Ed at January 5, 2004 5:30 PM