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Oh the conclusions you'll jump to...

Thursday, July 26, 2007


Having done the right thing reacting to a series of abuse complaints, a number of people - some of whom really ought to know better - have blogged about how the person involved was hawking pills, or worse, and that they'd evaded all our anti-spam techniques such as the captcha we use on all interactive subscriptions.

Fascinating stuff. Completely wrong of course, but not that it stopped them from drawing gripping conclusions or heaving out advice left and right. All without a any facts at their command. And these are the experts?

Good grief.

How exciting for these people, making things up as they go along! But these writers are, each and every one of them, wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. No pills, no sex, no financial scams, no organized crime. Not even close. How disappointing for them. Ahh, assumptions. Much more fun than getting the facts. Ooooohh, now I get the bloggers as citizen journalists debate.

Here are the facts, folks.

As a responsible email provider we use a number of techniques, including third party deliverability monitoring, RBL monitoring and feedback loops. One of these techinques belatedly picked up someone whose complaint rate was simply and consistently excessive and was at risk of jeopardizing delivery for everyone. Some have suggested that there was criminality involved (ain't guessing grand?), based on the assumption that what was being emailed was Nasty Stuff, or at least splogs (spam blogs) with nefarious mob masterminds behind the scenes, and we should therefore Alert The Authorities Forthwith.

Nope. Wrong again.

The publisher was simply sneaky - several accounts for the same content - and had complaint rates that indicated they were violating our terms of service. The sneakiness indicated that they pretty much came in knowing that there would be trouble, and the metrics proved it. And so they were duly dumped as we investigated the problem. It's that simple - A TOS violation. Nothing more exciting or dramatic than that.

For the record and for what it's worth, the oldest account that was closed was on the system for no more than eight weeks. Would I have preferred we caught it earlier? Of course. There are interesting reasons why they eluded us until now, and none of which relate to the captchas or dual opt in or automated notifications and all the other things that we require to ensure, maintain and monitor list and delivery quality. The processes we have in place worked in the end, albeit too slowly.

What we are figuring out here is how to close gaps in our knowledge that may apparently arise based on subscribers being in different regions of the world. We will make changes to identify more subtle, risky behavior in order to find these issues earlier. Some of these changes will end up being technical, others economic.

Meanwhile, however, a few final facts. Here are the monthly circulation figures for May and June with the affected accounts removed.

May-07: 2,161,774 (up 16% on April)
Jun-07: 2,330,144 (up 8% on May)

Now those are some cold hard facts to sink your teeth into. Growth that's right in line with our historic trends.



Blogger Ramon Ray said...

Why I love Feedblitz...


3:35 AM, July 27, 2007  
Blogger bristol411 said...

Following the link in the previous comment I eventually came across this;

"Of course Google recently bought Feedburner, which owns Feedblitz so I'm now using yet another Google tool!"

Is this correct?

3:42 AM, August 23, 2007  
Blogger Phil Hollows said...

No, that's incorrect.

FeedBurner was acquired by Google.
FeedBlitz is independent and not owned by FeedBurner, Google or anyone else.
FeedBlitz partners with FeedBurner and was the first email service offered by FeedBurner to their users.

8:07 AM, August 23, 2007  

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