Don’t e-mail the ‘m’ word

By Steve Outing

Spam filters are both blessing and curse. Don’t get me wrong; I’m thankful that my filters pick up the majority of junk e-mail that’s aimed at my in-box. But there’s a dark side to spam filters, which I was reminded of when reading Randy Cassingham’s This Is True newsletter last night.

The weekly humorous-news e-newsletter (free version) contains four items, with full text. But here’s the third item this week:

THE STORY IN THIS SPACE cannot be e-mailed due to its “adult” nature (a particular word in it will trip many spam filters). To read it see http://thisistrue.com/smothering_skills_government_division_9296.html. You are of course welcome to send the URL around to others.

The dark side of spam filtering is the effect it has on legitimate publishers in curbing what they write. No naughty words; no commonly used words that trip spam filters. Rafat Ali with his PaidContent.org e-newsletter goes so far as to purposely misspell words like “free,” because correct spelling will prevent delivery to his opt-in subscribers.

This is not a new problem. But I wonder if the filters will ever get enough intelligence to permit a non-porn use of the word “masturbation,” as Cassingham attempted, without blocking legitimate e-mail delivery. I’m not hopeful — and meanwhile, this item may get blocked from some subscribers’ in-boxes. Sigh.

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!