One of my pet peeves is why companies who have been around a long time are still unable to get the basics right. A great example is Yahoo! mail that, even after 11 years of being in existence, can’t distinguish between legitimate emails and spam. It’s annoying enough when tons of junk mail gets routed to your inbox but the last straw is when legitimate emails get sent to your spam folder.
This interview with Mark Risher, anti-abuse product manager for Yahoo Mail in Network World on introduction of DomainKeys Internet Mail, as the standard for authentication, back in February makes it sound like the greatest invention since sliced bread. I found that there’s more truth in the comments than in the interview itself.
This technology is something we felt would be very helpful for receivers so we can confer special privileges to a message. For this other message that lacks a signature, we can penalize it. We can treat it with more suspicion and run it through additional filters.
Yes, authentication of emails sound great in theory, the assumption being that Yahoo! system can identify the authentified piece of mail. But when their own mail system can’t distinguish between authentified mail and spam, what’s the point?
The incident that inspired my post today was an email I received from another Yahoo! mail user, a friend of mine who was responding to my previous email, and guess what?! His email was DomainKeys authentified and yet, it ended up in the spam folder. If I hadn’t checked my spam folder I would have missed the email with his flight details and would have left him stranded at the airport.
That’s why theory doesn’t always add up to reality and that’s where Gmail atleast has its basics right. Gmail system is smart enough to identify and compile emails in the same thread so subsequent emails in the same thread don’t get blocked. I mean, the fact that I’ve responded to a given email address multiple times should render it kosher.
That being said, how much can one expect from a free mail service but wait a minute…Gmail’s free and it’s not even out of Beta yet (which is curious, why is it still in Beta?). From what I’ve heard, the paid business mail hosted by Yahoo! has even worse spam filters, resulting in more spam than the free account, so much for paying for better service.
And as if it couldn’t get any worse, for the last few months, it’s been nearly impossible to log in to the mail account. You keep trying and trying, and you can see your emails in the tiny box on My Yahoo page but you can’t get to them. Yahoo! mail is supposed to be the third-most popular site according to Hitwise, a number which is no doubt helped by frustrated users who have to keep visiting the site multiple times because it’s so friggin darn impossible to get in.