Tuesday, September 26, 2017

A Brief Explanation of my Seeming Absence


I've been busy list-cleaning.

In 2010, I started building a list of newspapers worldwide for the Center for a Stateless Society. That was a loooooong process of working through a paid subscription to a directory and resulted in, IIRC, email addresses for about 1,500 US newspapers and another 1,000 foreign newspapers.

I tried to make time to keep that list updated (removing defunct publications, correcting changing editor addresses -- you might be surprised at how many papers want op-eds sent to a particular editor who may leave and be replaced rather than to an address that remains stable -- adding the occasional newly detected publication, etc.), but that can be a pretty intensive process and over time the list began generating a lot of bounced emails.

When I started the Garrison Center, I left the existing list with them ... and retained a copy for myself. Since then, I've slowly continued the process. But recent developments add urgency to it.

A couple of weeks ago, I sent out a bunch of emails from several addresses (I do that because Gmail has daily sending limits). I got the usual bounces ("the address does not exist"), but I also got a number of blocks. One of my addresses had made it onto a spam list, even though I don't send commercial email and even though I promptly and politely remove newspapers from my list on request.

So, it became time to start using a paid service. I've been using Sendgrid's free version for quite some time, always sending to the same subset of my list and trying to keep that portion fairly clean. Now I'm paying them about $10 a month to handle all of my op-ed submissions.

Advantage: When Sendgrid gets spam blocks that aren't true, they actually contact the spam list maintainers and work it out.

Disadvantage: Sendgrid has a "reputation" system based on how many bounces/unsubscribe requests/blocks/invalid domains (e.g. the publication closed or changed its web site URL) your mails generate. If your "reputation" falls below 80%, they want to know why, and if it falls below 70% you're likely to get the ax.

So, each time I send out a Garrison column, I'm going through the bounces/invalid domains (haven't seen any blocks or spam complaints yet) and either finding new, working addresses or deleting the publications from my list.

It takes time, but it's necessary. And at the end of the process, I will have a clean list of working addresses. And that list will be a different enough product far from both the paid directory I started from and the C4SS list circa 2015 that I see no ownership/IP problems with sharing it with others who want to do mass submissions of op-eds.

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