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INside Scoop January, 2008

eBook Writer

AOL... Delete!
If you're not on AOL, be thankful
By  Rowdy Rhodes

"If an email fails a content test, that mail is deleted and you will not get it."
If you are an AOL user please read everything below. If you're not on AOL thank your lucky stars and learn about what's happening.

It started two years ago. I was having trouble getting email through to AOL users who are double opt-in members of the Freelance Writing Organization - International. Double opt-in means that you want to be a system member and receive our email about writing news, 'how-to' books, etc.

It ended with a nasty email from me to AOL's legal and technical support department threatening that I would delete all existing AOL users and ban all future AOL users from our system if they didn't resolve the mail delivery issue.

Our next email went through without a single AOL email bouncing back at our system. So have subsequent mailings. I thought that was that. But, my site operator's instinct told me that it all went just a little too smoothly.

A month later I met a wonderful couple by the name of Peter Brown and Linda Caroll. They specialize in publishing, author promotions, internet marketing, global publicity and all of the services that an organization like ours (and you) can use to advance your market position. They operate Indie Book Source and TikiBooks and TikiPublishing.

During the course of our meeting AOL came up. Peter and Linda believed my threat had fallen on deaf corporate ears and that AOL had merely set their system to delete all our mail upon arrival. After all, who was to know?

As a system operator, if mail bounces back a report is generated informing me which accounts have not received our email. However, if all of the mail was simply being deleted by AOL, how would I know that? Since it didn't bounce back, I assumed AOL users received their email.

It goes further than this, though. How would the AOL user know that I had sent them email if it was being received and deleted before it reached them? They wouldn't. It would disappear. Everyone is none the wiser.

Now I'm not one to believe easily in unethical corporate practices nor internet rumours. I take stories and information at face value until I'm inclined to prove otherwise. Today I was so inclined.

Linda invited me to read two articles posted on her site. You can take a look and judge for yourself: and

That got me researching in an attempt to confirm the information. Personally, I'm convinced. If AOL has a system overload or problems with web site operators, they simply delete your mail.

Here are some examples:

Quoted from The Guardian

"But AOL has been criticized for its in-house filtering. In 2002, it angered US publisher ZDnet because it was filtering out ZDnet's email newsletters. More recently, it has got involved in a legal dispute with US web hosting company C I Host, which claims its customers are being unfairly filtered by AOL. AOL maintains it is only filtering out bulk mail that its subscribers have rejected."

"If an email fails a content test, that mail is deleted and you will not get it."

An ordering system disclaimer from a needle work maker: (see their item #3)

Consider this from a Consumer Reports email filtering research paper:

"Filtering comes free with AOL, Earthlink, or MSN. AOL and MSN both filtered effectively, but AOL blocked sites such as NewsMax, a conservative political site, and Operation Truth, an advocacy site for Iraq War veterans." You can unblock it, but did you know that?

Or Google using the words [ AOL deleting losing blocking email ]. I found over 100,000 pages and, no, I didn't read them all and, yes, I know they will not all pertain to this subject. But some do.

So how many offers, orders, contracts, messages and writing newsletters are you losing at AOL? If you are a writer, in my personal opinion, based upon the research I found, get the heck off AOL, because you have no idea who is truly trying to contact you.

My question now becomes: Is our mail getting through? Do I delete all of our AOL users who are unknowingly breaching our TOS? How am I going to find out if AOL members are receiving our Writers Site News (WSN) mailings?

I can't, on my own, so drop me a line if you are an AOL user and let me know by copying a piece of WSN and sending it to Subject "AOL User". Let's perform our own test and see what happens.
IN Icon

Rowdy Rhodes
General Manager
Inkwell Newswatch (IN)

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Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

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A quiet rhyme upon a page
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Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

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It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

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The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

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To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

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Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

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Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

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Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

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Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

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At last my poem’s through;
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I rewrote twenty-two!

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