Running an email service provider is a rough business:
a) Emails hitting inboxes are basically indistinguishable from cash at scale, and therefore you have all the fraud problems of a payments business but without a lot of the built-in fraud resolution systems
b) There exists an oligopoly of inbox providers who have a Nuke Your Business From Orbit button available to them, and that button can and will be pushed by a cron job if you do not keep your customers squeaky clean
c) The customer population is frequently low-sophistication, like the owners of flower shops or virtually anyone in the cryptocurrency economy (my apologies to professional journalists like, err, Two Bit Idiot)
d) Per-account values are, at the low end, really, really low by the standards of B2B SaaS, and as a result your customer service has to get operated in a very scalable fashion, and that implies some tradeoffs where not everybody is going to be happy with it 100% of the time.
This is the same idea as making your system work across availability zones/datacenters/cloud providers. At a certain scale it becomes a good idea.
The basic problem seems to me MailChimp's assumption that people only upload address lists from users they have consent from, when in reality everyone just uploads their LinkedIn address books and hopes not too many will press the "report" button. I am seriously fed up with Mailchimp not taking any actual action against these users after I already told them that I don't consent to receiving any messages about any topic from anybody via their platform. MailChimp should add a feature IMO where if somebody uploads an email address of people opting out that this person will be blacklisted from further using MailChimp.
It's not an assumption, it's a core of e-mail marketing business. They can't really ask for consent to receive marketing e-mails, because they can't get much consent for this. So the whole thing relies on people being tricked into giving away e-mail addresses, unknowingly consenting to e-mail marketing, being lazy to fight unsubscribing bureaucracy, etc.
I have friends in sales in other businesses to who look at their entire job as being "buy Google ads, buy Facebook ads, buy email lists". The idea such a thing might not be ethical is absolutely foreign to them.
It doesn't take tech expertise to understand this, nor an especially advanced or specialized worldview to understand that breaking things for other people might be ethically questionable.
As both a marketer and a developer, I can say that buying an email dump is NEVER something that I would do, but not its for the ethics of it (we all know marketers have no ethics). I wouldn't buy a list to spam because THAT list isn't MY list.
The hit/conversion rate on a list of random emails, or even semi-qualified emails, that you don't have a relationship with is so incredibly low, that it isn't worth it to spam their inbox, risking my reputation (opens & clicks to spam ratio).
A one percent uptick in spam reports is enough to downgrade my sending IP enough that my real customers would start missing my emails.
Real marketers aren't going to send a automated marketing email to a list of people they don't have a relationship with.
This is such a crappy practice for bootstrapping a new email marketing list, few things infuriate me as much as this. If nothing else, it instantly makes me never want to even look at your new product or service regardless of how good it might be.
I have my own domain name, so I've started using address aliases for different things. There's no way that they can get around that.
unless you use high entropy aliases, there's nothing preventing someone from filtering out all the emails with "uncommon" domains for secondary examination. at that point, you can manually ascertain whether the email address is an alias or not.
email@example.com probably a legit address
firstname.lastname@example.org probably an alias
That would be the easiest way to eliminate spam from MailChimp's platform. Also probably the quickest way to eliminate a vast majority of their paying customers.
I'm pretty sure these mail services already monitor unsubscribe rates and spam flags. But there will always be false positives, i. e. legitimate recipients flagging a newsletter because they no longer want to receive it, or because they forgot they agreed.
Spam recipients, on the other hand, may not report these messages often enough. Some just don't bother, others rely on their mail client or company's filters.
That could make it difficult to find a reliable cut-off separating legitimate and spam mail.
The only real solution to this would be for the mail services to handle opt-in procedures. That, however, would effectively lock you in to a single provider, because it'd be suicide to change providers and ask for confirmation from every recipient again.
I found your response very lacking. Why should everyone abandon care? Obviously some speed and others don't.
I feel your pain, but it's worth noting that email, by its very design, is intended to be open to receiving unsolicited messages. So frankly, by using email at all you have actually consented to receive unwanted emails from time to time.
I think it's unreasonable to expect MailChimp to maintain a ruthless approach to prevent people from doing something that can be done with any email client, sendmail, or any number of tools that use the open protocol of email.
Things are bad enough as it is with closed and segmented communications methods on the rise. I'm pretty happy that email exists the way that it does, and MailChimp strikes me as a company that really works hard to strike a balance between the competing needs of being useful for sending mass emails while being mindful of spam.
The filters are so good, that many people find that they can't even reach people that have asked them to subscribe to their mails, because they are still filtered out as spam. Enter MailChimp, the trusted mass mailer provider that help companies bypass the spam filters by giving their mail a respectable envelope. If they allow spammers their envelope shouldn't be respected. Actually, that's clearly the theme of the OP.
And no, by using email I consented nothing. Where I live that's actually the law - I can sue whoever sends me commercial unsolicited email, unless given explicit permission (opt-in), spammer can be liable for compensation for each and every incident.
If it was open you would probably be receiving hundreds of them a minute. The filters means many don't even try, but if the required effort was zero we would be flooded with them.
The situation was so bad before the filtering products were invented that Bill Gates tried to push small fees (stamps) as a requirement for sending emails (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/fee-based-e-mail-way-to-can-spa...).
I signed up there with crypterium.io@mydomain. Some time after, I start getting blockchain-related spam to that address. I wonder how that happened!
When I pointed out on their Telegram channel that one of two things had happened, a) they sold me, b) they got hacked, I was threatened with a ban. Their fans thought I was a raving lunatic.
I now have a support ticket open. Surprisingly it isn't really going anywhere.
I no longer accept email at crypterium.io@mydomain...
that being said - MC and other reputable ESPs have for awhile been much more concerned about consent for deliverability reasons
They are paid on a lead basis. Average lead price is $5-$10. I don’t know many campaigns they run at a time, but I glanced at her laptop and it looked like at least 100 active campaigns.
There is big money in this as such people will pay to get investors.
I asked about her reason for travels. She was actually going to a conference for others in her field.
I'm sorry you've had issues with them. I hope you got a bad rep and they haven't become evil. When I used to do business with them I genuinely felt they wanted to do the right thing.
The practices these people are using are scummy as fuck.
I have different rules for different addresses. Public e-mail adresses and e-mail adresses that are meant for online services. Public ones are permanent and filtered and mailchimp and similar don't get to send mail there. The other type of address is whitelisted and disposable. Everything ends in the same mailbox. Works like a charm.
What collateral damage is being done? It seems to me the opposite of collateral damage is being done: Mailchimp has banned cryptocurrency-related email lists, and those writing cryptocurrency-related emails have lost that ability.
Beyond the absurdity of the title, email has always been decentralized. Anyone with a server can send or receive email with whatever technology stack they so wish. Of course, because there is no trust framework, there's no guarantee that your email will get delivered… Which is why Mailchimp validated the opposite of the article's conclusion: there is lots of value in centralizing the management of email. They can act as a trusted authority to negotiate with various email hosts and guarantee(-ish) to customers that the emails will get delivered.
The damage is that if you're writing about cryptocurrency as a topic, the same way any media publication would (rather than trying to scam anyone or sell anything) you're still getting shut down.
I think this is way too broad and leads to absurd conclusions. For instance there's an MIT research group whose mailing list I subscribe to (not mailchimp) and which would fall under marketing by your criteria. Papers with specific cryptocurrency names occasionally appear in top CS conferences.
It is very difficult to find non-marketing content in modern times. Especially in America.
Like, if you want to have an erudite discussion of the technical and mathematical underpinnings of zk-SNARKs, there must be a substantial number of people in that discussion who are capable of setting up a Mailman server.
Here's a response from MailChimp to a nonprofit educational org that suggests they are willing to make distinctions and not just class everyone who writes blockchain-related content as shady: https://twitter.com/MailChimp/status/981554164626010112
It seems you're saying that MailChimp should be entirely neutral and should let you promote anything you want, and they disagree. MailChimp does not want to allow cryptocurrency promotions. Cryptocurrency promotions have negative externalities. That's not collateral damage, it's the entire point of their decision.
Whether they are "equivalent to ICO scammers" doesn't enter into it.
I own small amounts of Bitcoin and Monero, I've been following the technology with interest for quite some time, and yet the whole "crypto" craze still seems like another alien world.
Escort and dating services
Work from home, make money online, and lead generation opportunities
Gambling services or products
Credit repair and get out of debt opportunities
List brokers or list rental services
Selling “Likes” or followers for a social media platform
Cryptocurrencies are just the latest. You can read the whole list and more clarifications here (it's very clear and readable for legal documentation): https://mailchimp.com/legal/acceptable_use/
Why does this harms users who follow the guidelines to show origin/identity (SPF, DKIM, dedicated IP, etc.)? We also use SendGrid for transactional emails and it's the same: some hosts (like Office 365) have told us that they weight all messages coming from sendgrid.net to their users as SPAM because they've seen so many issues there.
I pointed out that they should be able to distinguish between spammers and those who, like us, are positively identifiable and have not engaged in SPAM. No avail.
Are they being lazy, or am I missing something?
It does lock you to using EIPs though, which makes it a bit harder to scale up.
So, seems like they are doing everything reasonable to prevent spamming through their service. Not sure what else an ESP can do.
But, maybe they've just managed to make it more difficult for legit users than spammers.
Sendgrid charge you to use a dedicated IP address for sending your mail. If you don't set this up -- and configure your SPF record to specify this IP, against the explicit instructions Sendgrid gives you -- anyone else can sign up with Sendgrid and send email as you. Their configuration guides and tooling actually encourage you to enable impersonation on yourself.
So, maybe they're doing everything they can to prevent spamming, but they're sure doing a lot to encourage phishing.
For instance, if you use it for service delivery (payment receipts, invoices, password resets, etc), there is no separate opt-in process beyond the fact that recipients are your users who signed up for your service.
I'm not sure how any ESP could enforce the notion of opting in under these circumstances.
That's not a fact that the recipients are users that signed up for it. As someone with a first letter + last name @ gmail account, I can't tell you how many transactional emails I get for things I never signed up for. Try getting a bank to take your email address off of someone else's account—damn near impossible.
It is if you use an email verification step as part of your sign-up flow, which we do. At most, someone could sign up with someone else's address and generate a confirmation email, but it'd only be once per address and that's the price of an open Web.
Anyway, I'm aware that not everyone does this, but at a certain point there's not much an ESP can do, beyond which there's essentially trust and monitoring.
There's always the possibility that your dedicated IP isn't as clean as you would hope. You can check here: https://mxtoolbox.com/blacklists.aspx
And this kind of gets to the nub of it. Centralization brings massive economies of scale, and allows you to free ride off the deliverability of other newsletters that don't come anywhere near talking about potentially fraudulent activity. But you have to play by their rules and you're at the mercy of one day being no longer welcome, even if you've paid them thousands of dollars before.
Of course, you're welcome to go off and run your own server / roll your own email protocol / used a 'decentralized' platform or Gab or Voat or whatever, but often a) these things end up being a lot less decentralized than you think, and b) good luck getting anyone to know, care about, or trust you.
1) Design decentralized service, with low barriers to entry
2) Jerks start using the service for bad things that make life miserable for the rest of the users.
3) To combat the spam, some service providers start creating whitelists of which other service providers they will talk to
4) People flock to those service providers, because they are the only ones that aren't flooded with spam.
5) Holdouts end up HAVING to switch to one of those providers because they are the only ones anyone talks to.
6) The service is no longer decentralized in practice
I don't know how we get around this problem. These people complaining about not being able to send cryptocurrency emails through mailchimp are complaining about the centralization of the service, but most end users are thinking, "I am really glad I dont have to deal with the spam they are trying to send me."
Most people WANT some barriers to entry for services, because without them, spammers will always win.
Charge $0.001 to deliver an email. Maybe in crypto or some kind of PoW. Legitimate senders won't care about $0.001.
So your solution to crypto people poisoning the well is something that will be incredibly inconvenient for everyone but crypto people?
What fraction of e-mails receive from new devices are spam? (Genuine question, if someone has a source or the data.)
great, might as well go to my local astrologer to consult about deliverability issues.
I think Mailchimp should have done this more tactfully, with a promise to deliver every legit coin newsletter email if the coin is actually in use for something other than speculation, a real use case, adopted and helping the world go round.
Where is the blockchain solution for spam, anyways? I have heard about some land registry in Africa that has moved onto the blockchain and I am ready to get my Kodak coins, fully bought in, expecting my Lamborghini to moon soon. But really, I am stumped when it comes to practical application for blockchain coin things. If I owned Mailchimp and was the benevolent dictator chimp in chief then I would freely deliver every legit coin email three times over if it could be proven to be legit rather than barely believable if you are on the Koolaid.
While I assume that what is described in the article might have happened with other verticals, I would be curious to see how this will play out in the larger emailing ecosystem given the current hype & aggressiveness of the commercial practices of at least some of the players in the cryptocurrency field (as attested by others here).
E-mail is already decentralized. Anyone can send and receive an e-mail with only having network access as a barrier, and you only need a typical modern computer to send millions of them.
Mailchimp's value proposition is that by becoming an authority over a chunk of distribution using their brand, anything they send carries a badge of trust since they promise it isn't malicious. Their e-mail templates are a nice bonus, but I don't think that's the only reason some people use them. That mailchimp origin server is a keycard through a bunch of gatekeepers propped up as sentries against spam.
In essence e-mail is totally decentralized and trust is exchanged amongst members of ad-hoc federation of parties with a vested interest of having non-spam email get through the internet on both receiving and sending ends.
Is there a way a blockchain would make this market-based emergent system more efficient?
I figured it was just spam similar to what this thread refers to because I only ever get crypto-related emails from it. If it wasn't for the more-premium-than-most domain I'd have already auto-spammed it
Edit: Naturally seconds after asking I find an email from Angel List saying 21.co rebranded to earn.com.
As it turns out I'd been added or at some point had added myself to an "Airdrop" list, which is a list of people interested in cryptocoins. Removed myself from that and unchecked "Receive emails for tasks below your contact price?" should finally stop getting emails about dodgy new cryptocoins. Successful rubber duck debugging
I don't know who's to blame - whether Mailchimp has tracking up the wazoo enabled by default and people need to be knowledgeable to turn it off, or if businesses just can't help themselves when offered analytic features, but it's pretty crazy how Mailchimp hosts enough of the email's content in cross-site tracking domains that sanitizing them leaves the mailouts empty.
When an advertising push looks like this you know they're using Mailchimp: https://i.imgur.com/Yv2QCv2.png
That "view this email in your browser" link even brings up a similarly blank webpage! That link is already tracked, by clicking on it they already know I've looked at the email and care enough to want to see it properly, but the web version is still woven whole out of cross-site tracking shenanigans that it's filtered out (e.g. https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/Firefox/Privacy/Tracking...).
So was our past. How does cryptocurrency upset the balance of power that has caused centralisation to occur?
There have been scam after scam with cryptocurrencies, and despite every player experimenting with the blockchain concept, few results.
Cryptocurrencies have a very real cultural problem they need to overcome. This is a response to that cultural problem.
If Facebook works because we spend the most valuable asset we have to offer which is our finite human life, then what does that have to do with bitcoin? We spend our life and we spend our money, so if one platform is based on ad revenue from our attention and the other platform is based on revenue from our trading of goods, then there may be a parallel where everything has a value even if it is not as tangible as heavy, cold, dirty gold.
Whether a "social" network or a "store of value" network, both of these examples exist because we are obsessed with being connected to one another. One could say that a big difference is that Bitcoin nodes don't usually share baby pics and Facebook posts don't usually parody wire transfers, but really both could easily do both.
At their guts, Facebook and Bitcoin are based on normal computers that have the knowledge and power to create streams of data from me to you. So, do we need a third party or can we handle it ourselves?
Disclaimer: I have some of my ETH in cryptokitties https://www.cryptokitties.co/ which is a crypto platform for trading kitten pics on the Ethereum network with an exact fiat currency equivalent. I can wire transfer you my kitten within minutes, value and all, but I won't. She's too cute.
"the other crypto bans (Facebook ads [...] etc.) remind me of [...] old regimes afraid of [...] competition that aims to remove/replace them"
Cryptocurrencies will not replace social networks.