Howto: Disable your Gmail spam folder

I have a few Gmail accounts set up where I programmatically download all the mail so that I can generate a report showing information about each message. Sometimes, some of the email messages I receive and want to report on go to the spam folder. I could download mail from the spam folder, but instead, I figured it would be easier to just configure my Gmail account so that no mail goes to the spam folder.

It's easy to do that. Here's how:

1. In Gmail, go to Settings.
2. Under Filters and Blocked Addresses, click on "Add new filter."
3. In the To field, type "me" (without quotes).
4. Click on "Create filter with this search."
5. Select "Never send it to Spam."
6. Click on the "Create Filter" button to save and activate your new filter.

This will prevent almost all inbound mail to you from going to the spam folder. A few types of messages, mostly malformed ones, might slip through, but I'm OK with that.

This isn't something you'd want normally, but there are a number of use cases where this can come in handy, so I figured I would share it with all of you.

Note that any mail already in the spam folder is not going to magically get moved to the inbox. This only affects new mail as it comes in.

Best US cell carrier for phone spam protection? T-Mobile.

I'm curious to dig into the methodology here to look for limitations, but so far so good. Money reports on a recent study to compare spam identifying/blocking functionality of the top four US cell carriers. T-Mobile came out on top as far as identifying or blocking Scam/Fraud and Telemarketing/Spam calls.

I had T-Mobile years ago and was generally happy; though when my wife and I were forced to move back to Minnesota to deal with family issues, we would have had reception issues outside of Minneapolis, so we went with Verizon. That chapter is now behind us, and so now that we're basically steady in a big city here in Florida, maybe it's time to change. Spam call blocking matters to me; what do you all think, dear reader?

Ask Al: Group mail is being blocked, what do I do?

Recently, a reader wrote in with the following question:

I host an email group of about 450 people who share a common autoimmune medical condition. I send/receive email through a Gmail account set up in Windows Live Mail on a home PC. My ISP is RCN.  Recently, any emails sent to any group member using an AOL or Verizon.net account are being blocked by AOL. I sent an email to AOL asking to not be blocked and my request was denied with little feedback as to why. I was then pointed to recent changes concerning DMARC and FBL. I generated an AOL account just for those members to get the information they need but this is an awkward way to send emails, using two separate accounts.

Gmail: Filtering mail into folders

Somebody recently asked me how does one set up folders in Gmail, and how does one then filter mail into those filters? Setting up filters and folders (labels) makes Gmail much more usable; makes my very busy email stream much more manageable.

Here's how you do it, courtesy of Wikihow.

Gmail & B2B Spam

A client recently reminded me of Gmail's yellow bar that explains why a message went to spam. I decided to pull up the last few spams out of my spam folder and check the yellow "why" bar.

b2b-leadgen.com: Why is this message in Spam? It's similar to messages that were detected by our spam filters.

verizones.com: Why is this message in Spam? We've found that lots of messages from verizones.com are spam.

mail-leadiro.com: Why is this message in Spam? We've found that lots of messages from mail-leadiro.com are spam.

trainingdoyens.com: Why is this message in Spam? We've found that lots of messages from trainingdoyens.com are spam.

If Gmail says that these three sending domains seem to be spammy, who am I to argue?

(If you recognize your company name there, maybe it's time to reconsider your B2B strategy. I never signed up for your emails. Send a lot of mail to people who didn't sign up for it, and that's what happens.)

AOL/Yahoo Transition Update: AOL DMARC & FBL Reports

AOL Postmaster Lili Crowley posted an update yesterday to the AOL Postmaster Blog regarding the future of DMARC and FBL reports from the AOL platform.

Here's my summary of that information:

For DMARC reports: AOL is saying that the MX records for their domains are in the process of being transitioned from AOL inbound email servers to new email servers. As each domain's MX record is transitioned, AOL will no longer send DMARC reports for that domain. Any DMARC reports for that domain will now come from Yahoo.

(These are reports that you get from other ISPs, when you have a DMARC record in place that specified that reports should be sent providing information about DMARC failures. Most people feed these into a DMARC-specific automation platform for parsing and reporting. Not everybody has this / does this.)

For ISP Feedback Loop reports (spam complaints): AOL is saying that currently, FBL reports for AOL users on AOL domains will continue to come from AOL. But, at some point in the (very?) near future, these AOL users' mailboxes will be transitioned to new infrastructure. When that happens, AOL FBL reports from that user will cease. That user is now covered by Yahoo's Feedback Loop, and if that user reports an email message as spam, it will be handled in accordance with Yahoo's FBL process.

In my estimation, it's very likely that the transitioning of all AOL users' mailboxes to new infrastructure will take some amount of time. It seems quite likely that there will be a period of time when some of those AOL users are on AOL infrastructure (resulting in AOL FBL traffic) while you see some other AOL users sending in complaints via the Yahoo FBL process.

If you sign all mail with DKIM authentication, and you register your domains with Yahoo's FBL system, you should be all set. If not, it's time to get that process going.