Email Best Practices Testing – Part 1


Hi Denizens High Atop The Thing!

I decided today, as a little tech side project, that I was going to start establishing a email footprint and testing it out.  As some of you may know, I work for software company that develops and deploys a content management system for non-profits and schools.  Said CMS requires its users and support personnel to know a little something about email.  Having worked as a network engineer and a support specialist for 15 years, I decided it was time for me to get some real world experience to add to the knowledge that I’ve amassed from reading articles, white papers and best practices from email providers and ISPs.

The first thing that I did was sign-up for a MailChimp account.  This was easy enough.  It took me all of 5 minutes to spin up an account.  Using it may be completely different, but I guess I’ll see soon enough.  When I tried to sign-up for Constant Contact though, I used the first name of “Website” and a last name of “Highatopthething”.  I could understand if they wouldn’t allow this, but the page told me that my last name needed to be more than 2 characters.  FAIL!  They also want my mobile number for “security purposes”.  More on that below.  You don’t need my mobile number, CC.

I’ll be working with some friends and WHATT denizens so that I can get a real experience with this, but I also decided that I needed to have some accounts with major email providers that I could be in control of.

Hotmail:  Now branded as Outlook.com, Microsoft has attempted to make this as friendly an experience as possible.  In 3 minutes, I created an account, logged into it and added it as a box in Mozilla Thunderbird.  Top notch, Microsoft.  I guess this is why I let you host my email services for eliirvin.com.  OH WAIT…  You’re discontinuing free email hosting.  This makes you slightly an ass bag.

AOL:  Yes, believe it or not, there are still lunatics out there that are using AOL as their email provider.  To AOLs credit though, the account was easy enough to setup, much like Outlook.com, but they have a reputation of having a swiss cheese security infrastructure. Working with company I work with, AOL is presenting some fairly unique challenges to users of bulk email systems such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Blackbaud NetCommunity and others.  I’m trying not to enter into this testing with a bias, so I’ll save the DMARC discussion for later.  AOL should be a valid test since mostly holdovers from the 56k dial-up days are using these age-old accounts.

Yahoo: Here’s where I hit a snag.  I attempted to sign-up for an account and they asked me to supply my mobile phone number.  This is allegedly done for “security purposes”.  I tweeted Yahoo (@yahoo) to find out why they thought they needed this.  @YahooCare replied to me toot sweet with “…this is a security feature to protect accounts. You can learn more here: http://yhoo.it/1lKkdWn”  I replied to them with “Sure, but what’s in place to make sure that my number isn’t lifted from your system (Target, Nieman Markus, P.F. Changs)?”  No reply as yet.  Since I don’t want to connect any of this testing to my live accounts in anyway, I’m holding off on creating this account for a bit whilst I think about how to address this.  I want the full experience ya know…

Google (Gmail): This one was easy too.  It let me skip supplying a mobile phone.  I was however forced to pick a profile picture.  I picked a tasteful picture of Roy Scheider from Jaws.  The next screen put me through to a “Thank you” and my dashboard.  One thing that I noticed though was that the little alert bell in the upper left had an alert in it.  I figured it was just a welcome email.  Nope!  As it turns out, I’ve also been signed up for a Google+ account.  What the actual hell?! I didn’t want friggin Google+.  I guess we’ll see how this plays into testing.

iCloud: One doesn’t just walk into Apple, it seems.  I’m required to have a Mac…  or an iPhone…  or an iPad…  I have all three, but my iPhone has a live account, as does my iPad.  My Mac…  well…  I’m on it right now, but since it’s old (MacBook 1,1), I wiped out OS X 10.6.8 and installed Ubuntu 12.04 sometime back.  I guess I’ll go dig out my iPad 1st Gen, resurrect it and sign-up for an iCloud account later.

Since I have a relationship with AT&T, I was able to setup a sub account with them.  One of the worst providers out there is Comcast.  I wasn’t able to setup an account with them though.  Maybe a kind WHATT denizen will gift me a sub-account to test them out.

While writing this post, I noticed that my Gmail account already had 4 new messages!  Who the hell would be emailing an account which is only 30 minutes old?  OH!  Google of course.  They have the following subject lines:

  • Getting started on Google+
  • Stay more organized with Gmail’s inbox
  • The best of Gmail, wherever you are
  • Three tips to get the most out of Gmail

No Google.  I really didn’t want Google+.  The rest of it is marketing junk.  Why market to me?  I just signed up for the damn account?  Would you like my first born too?!  Jeezie Pete!

I’ll send a message to some of the WHATT denizens.  If you want to participate in testing and interact with me, let me know.  You can reach me by:

Here ends part one.  🙂

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