Double opt-in, it's not what you think it is


Bill McCloskey has a post over on ClickZ about single opt-in vs. double opt-in. The post itself is generating a lot of buzz in the industry and has pages and pages of comments. I’m not going to really comment on the post, as I think much of what I would say has been covered in the comments, in posts here and in every email marketing discussion that has happened in the last 5 years.
I do want to comment on one of the comment’s however. This comment makes the assertion that “double opt-in was a term designed by spammers to make confirmed opt-in look too troublesome and problematic to use.”  This is a bit of lore that is deeply, deeply established in the minds of many anti-spammers. There is a core group of activists that are completely convinced that anyone who ever uses the term double opt-in to refer to a confirmation practice is not only a spammer, but a lying scammer. They cannot imagine a world where someone might use this term while actually supporting the practice.
The problem with this belief is that it’s not true. Double opt-in was mostly used by PostmasterDirect (now part of ReturnPath) as a way to market their email addresses. PostmasterDirect actually patented a process for confirming addresses and used double opt-in as a way to distinguish themselves in the market place. It wasn’t that double opt-in was twice as hard as opt-in, it’s that their email address lists were twice as good as those other lists that you might be thinking of buying.
So, no, double opt-in is not spammer speak. It is, in fact, often the speech of a sender who is attempting to do the right thing. The fact that the sender does not know a made up history of a term does not turn them into a lying spammer. Asserting that it does says a lot more about the person making the assertion.

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  • The only ISP that requires this is Outblaze. That’s because their whitelist is tied to their FBL and they only offer whitelisting to senders who verify the identity and permission of their recipients.

  • Bravo! I come across this confusion often. The senders are doing their best, and then are classified as spammers for using the wrong terminology for the right behavior. Let’s get beyond the name to the act and applaud those that are working to send email to only those who want it.

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