Fight Aging! Newsletter Delivery Issues to Gmail Accounts

Ensuring that the thousands of emails sent out each week for the Fight Aging! newsletter all end up where they should is an ongoing battle with the forces of entropy. Every mail service has its own quirks, and there are dozens of services large enough to require attention. Anti-spam automation is a complex ecosystem, prone to errors and false positive identifications, and one in which small organizations have little influence or recourse to correct such errors. Much of the categorization of spam is completely automated and networked, machines identifying and publishing analyses in real time. Other networks of machines then build their own conclusions based on each layer of processed data. It is like an immune system, and just like the real immune system it can sometimes produce poor outcomes for reasons that are challenging to determine.

A case in point is that in recent weeks Gmail subscribers have been missing out on the Fight Aging! newsletter. At some point Google's internal systems decided that one past newsletter was spam or a promotional email, not a legitimate mail requested by a list subscriber. This could have happened for any number of obscure and complicated causes, but probably has a lot to do with the fact that I have been talking about fundraising of late. Sending a newsletter that discusses longevity science is already sailing close to the wind from the point of view of the global anti-spam ecosystem, given the amount of junk the frauds and marketing departments of the "anti-aging" industry generate. Mix in mentioning money with that, and apparently I'm just asking for it. Spam automation has always had problems distinguishing between real science and fake science relating to aging and longevity, which may be yet another reflection of the fact that most people - a category that includes most people who work on anti-spam automation - still don't think that there is real science there to be discussed.

Google's anti-spam automation is self-reinforcing. If one newsletter ends up in the spam folder or Promotions tab at Gmail, then all similar following emails will as well. Google's systems cheerfully build upon any mistake, and worse, they propagate that mistake out into the broader anti-spam ecosystem to make it more likely that other systems identify Fight Aging! newsletters as spam and blacklist the Fight Aging! mail server. As anyone who has ever had issues with Google's free products know, there is no way to reach an actual human being at Google unless you happen to represent a large business concern, or you have a large audience and can make Google look bad by complaining. Errors don't get fixed, there is no customer service, and you simply have to deal with whatever breakage they create.

So I am doing what I can at my end, but there are really very few ways to influence this course of events beyond moving the mail server, a task that is presently in progress. Even there the actual thread of identification in Google's systems is the email address and the content of the newsletter, not the mail server's location. Moving the server just helps to minimize some of the other damaging consequences resulting from this issue.

The best solution under the circumstances is for Gmail subscribers to find the recent Fight Aging! newsletters in the spam folder or the Promotions tab in their account and then inform Gmail that (a) these emails are are not spam, and (b) that they want to receive future similar emails in the Primary tab. If enough people do this, then it will go some way towards teaching Gmail's automation not to miscategorize these newsletters.

So if you are subscribed to the Fight Aging! newsletter at a Gmail address, please check your spam folder for copies of the Fight Aging! newsletter from the past few weeks. For each, select the mail and click the "Not Spam" button. This will probably move it to the Promotions tab of your inbox. Then please open the Promotions tab of your inbox, find the newsletter emails there and drag them to the Primary tab. You will see a popup asking you whether all future similar emails should be delivered to the Primary tab. Choose that option. I'd greatly appreciate it.


@Hervé Musseau: DKIM is already in place.

Posted by: Reason at July 8th, 2014 4:28 AM

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