Beware the TINS Army


When consulting with clients, I spend a lot of time trying to help them better understand the concept of sender reputation. Spam reports, feedback loops, and other data that comes from a collection of positive and negative reputational feedback about a company sending email.
Certainly, the “This is not spam” action – moving an email from the spam folder to the inbox, or clicking the “not spam” button in a web mail’s interface, is a strong positive reputational action. Some webmail providers use this data to decide which bulked senders deserve being let out of the penalty box – which should have their mail once again delivered to the inbox.
A client recently theorized that a great solution to their delivery problems would be to do this “en masse.” Sign up for hundreds or thousands of webmail accounts, send my mail to them, and click on the “not spam” button for each of my own emails. That’ll greatly improve my sending reputation, right?
NO! ISPs have already thought of this. They watch for this. They’re really good at picking up on things like this. I know for a fact that Yahoo and Hotmail and AOL notice stuff like this, and I strongly suspect other webmail providers notice it as well.
What happens when Yahoo or Hotmail pick up on this type of unwanted activity? Well, if it’s at Yahoo, they’re likely to block all mail from you, 100%, forever. I’ve seen it happen more than once. Yahoo might even identify all of your netblocks, ones beyond the ones sending today’s mail or originating today’s activity. And good luck trying to convince them that you’re not a spammer – you have a better chance of winning the lottery two weeks in a row.
As for Hotmail – what would Hotmail do? Ask Boris Mizhen. Microsoft is currently suing him, alleging that he and/or his agents or associates engaged in this very practice.

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  • We’ve been spending a lot of time educating clients lately about the positive and negative aspects of user interaction with email, including the TINS action. How it’s important, but how it can be misused and that ISPs are quick to pick up on that nowadays. Thanks for this; it fits right in with that message!

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