It’s sad that we’ve arrived at a place where it needs to be said. Unfortunately, 3rd-party email services such as Yahoo, Hotmail, Gmail, and so forth have to deal with tons and tons of spam. So they tend to use very aggressive spam-filtering rules. Overly aggressive, in many cases.
In my 20 years working online, I’ve sent and received many thousands of emails. Over the years, I’ve seen an increase in the number of false positives when it comes to Gmail et al blocking spam. In some cases, such 3rd-party services even block replies to your own messages. So for example:
- You write an email to someone
- The recipient gets your email and replies
- Gmail blocks the reply, sending it to spam folder
That first happened to me several years ago. Since then, I am seeing it happen much more frequently, as email services obviously are getting increasingly desperate to fight spam. Too desperate, apparently. When you have to dig around in the spam or trash folder to find the replies from your own recipients, well. That’s pretty pathetic.
So this post is to help spread the word. For anyone using 3rd-party email services:
Check Your Spam Folder
Check it frequently — as frequently as you check your inbox. Thanks to overly aggressive email filtering, it’s important do this as part of your daily routine. If you haven’t done so already. Personally, I stopped using 3rd-party email services for serious correspondence around seven years ago, for a wide variety of reasons.
Domain-based email FTW
These days I stick with domain-based email for all important communication. Domain-based email is handled by your own server, so you have complete control over every aspect of filtering, handling spam, bounces, relays, and everything in between. Using my own domain-based account for email works incredibly well and is very private and secure. I would never go back to 3rd-party shenanigans.
For those not familiar, a domain-based email address looks like this:
Compare with typical addresses from various 3rd-party services:
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
..and so forth. Here you can see another benefit to domain-based email: you get the username you want, rather than compromising by adding some number or random characters to find a name that isn’t already taken. In other words
firstname.lastname@example.org rocks a lot harder than
you_ItsTheRealMe2024@gmail.com or whatever shady looking name you manage to scrounge up at the bottom of the Gmail bargain bin.
Domain-based email is handled by your own server, provided by a web host. So if you’ve already got a host for your website or whatever, you’re more than halfway there. In most cases setting up domain-based email is a breeze. Any decent web host will be more than happy to help you get set up in a jiffy.
60 second summary
So let’s sum up:
|3rd-party email services||Domain-based email|
|Cost no money, but you sacrifice privacy||Pay per month or year, prices range from free to expensive, better privacy|
|Provides a user-interface and lots of options||May provide a user-interface, and/or you can use any mail app with many options|
|Uses aggressive email-filtering which frequently sends legitimate email to the spam bin or blocks entirely||Gives you control over spam filters, very low rates of false positives, so legit email never is blocked|
|Email address usually looks cheap, spammy||You choose the exact email address you want, looks professional and reputable|
There are other pros and cons, but you get the idea.
Bottom line: if you use Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, or any free 3rd-party service, make it a habit to check your spam folder. You might be surprised at what you’re missing.