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.
"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."
"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 email@example.com Subject "AOL User". Let's perform our own test and see what happens.