Poor Website Email Practices

I got a few emails in the past 24 hours that need to be addressed. I’ve seen both of these issues before, but never has it become so common that I see two almost back to back.

Character Encoding

VideoSurf sent me an invitation to check out their product. Unfortunately I’m a somewhat busy person and just haven’t gotten around to it. They noticed this and sent me a reminder, which I thought was kind of nice. Unfortunately like many companies these days, their mail software doesn’t set a character encoding, meaning their email looks like garbage. If I change the character encoding in my mail client to UTF-8 all looks great. What’s the lesson here?

Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

That’s all it takes to make sure I see every character in your email. It’s not hard.

Unnecessary Backscatter

Yahoo’s Flickr service sent me an email that my “upload has failed”. I know that’s not true since I don’t use Flickr to host my images. Viewing the email it’s obvious a spammer trying to abuse their service forged the From: header with my email address. This failed for the spammer, and the fail notification went to me. I host SPF records so that recipients mail servers can verify if an email originated from a system that’s authorized to send emails from my domain. Why doesn’t Yahoo check to see if this email they received forged headers? This would obviously be a good way to tell if someone is trying to spam their system, and would stop other innocent victims from getting backscatter.

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