Richard Jones' Log: Talk idea for any conference, anywhere...

Wed, 18 Oct 2006

"How to send automated email notifications and not get caught in spam filters"

I'm discovering that a small number of reviewers for OSDC papers never got their initial notification because it's sitting in their spam box (or, in some cases, a spam box upstream from their mail reader).

Comment by Ian Bicking on Wed, 18 Oct 2006

There's no surefire way, sadly. It sucks. You can run spamassassin on an email interactively to get a score, and see what might be causing problems (insofar as SA is similar to other spam detectors). Little issues like bad Date headers can add lots of spam points. Things like SPF and other MTA-level stuff also makes a big difference. If you are on a blacklist that also hurts; it can happen without notification or even reason, so it's worth checking.

Comment by Richard Jones on Wed, 18 Oct 2006

Yes, I'm definitely going to be running any new notification messages through spamassassin to see what sort of score they come up with.

Comment by Ben Finney on Sat, 04 Nov 2006

Things that help:

* Keep it short. A long rambling message should instead be on a web page, with the email containing a brief summary and a URL.

* Keep it plain-text, not HTML or PDF. This continues to be a strong differentiator between "probably good" and "probably spam". If your message depends on structural markup, again, put it on a web page and give a simple text message pointing to it.

* Use matter-of-fact wording. The more excited or effusive the message is, the more it tends to contain language shared with spam.

* Consider GPG-signing the message. This is currently a trait strongly correlated with non-spam, and it happens to be a good idea, anyway.