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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarianism in the News

February 1, 2010 -- Vegparadise News Bureau

Vegetarians in Paradise Encounters Spam Blockade

Hello, Cyberworld. Vegetarians in Paradise has no intentions of flooding the email world with spam!

During our eleven years of publication we have amassed a list of over 1200 people whom we contact at the beginning of each month to remind them that we have updated our web magazine with new stories and features. We have become increasingly aware in the last two years of the difficulty in contacting a group of that size.

Some large email providers began to block us from reaching their members. We were labeled as spammers and felt discouraged that we could not reach our subscribers with our monthly message. Any attempts to run the blockade received the dreaded 550 message " Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable."

Spam In reaction to this prohibition, we divided our list into more than 30 smaller groups that seemed to be the answer for a short time. Then our own internet service provider put us on a spam list for sending out more than 1000 emails in one day. Once an email address is on such a list, it becomes almost impossible to contact a person or organization in order to be removed from the list.

When we contacted our email provider, we were advised by their representative in an overseas location to divide our list into two groups to avoid being blocked. What we weren't told led to our next mishap. We are not clairvoyant! It's impossible to obey the rules if you don't know them.

A dark opening to the new year
On New Year's Day we sent out our monthly message telling 500 of our readers that we were celebrating our 12th birthday and described the new information we were adding that month. The remaining people on our email list never received our communication because we were blocked for four days. During those four days we could receive emails but could not even send out a single message.

What was our newest transgression? What rule had we violated now? No one had told us that we could not send out more than 99 messages in one hour. Alas, the intricacies of this wonderful cyberworld continue to surprise us. Meanwhile, we were informed by one of the companies hired by large email providers that our internet address was sending out over 2000 messages a day.

If we were in a mood to laugh, we would have become hysterical. Those 2000 messages a day were being sent out on the days we were blocked from sending out any emails. Someone had hijacked our address to send out spam.

Trying to figure out this dilemma, we began throwing questions at our techie friends. No, we didn't have a virus on our computer. Yes, we did have a dynamic address, not a static address. Yes, we do have a wireless network, but what crazy spammer would want to come to our neighborhood in the suburbs of Los Angeles to access our network and flood the world with spam?

Making the big decision
During the next few days we were in a funk and feeling very distressed. We considered the option of not contacting our readers at all. We mulled the idea of telling our subscribers we would communicate through Twitter and Facebook to send our messages. We also explored the possibility of hiring a mailing list provider to send out our communications to subscribers. For a monthly fee these providers handle bulk emails and are able to deliver them without being blocked.

Since we have no income from Vegetarians in Paradise, any money we spend comes out of our own pockets. We have taken pride in our effort to provide reliable resources for our vegetarian community as a public service. For example, none of our meals in restaurants we review are free. We insist on paying for everything and do not identify ourselves in order to avoid special treatment.

After a few days of agonizing over our email problem, our giant staff of two decided to bite the bullet and hire an email provider to help us navigate through the raging email waters.

We are indebted to our very dear friend Eric Brent from Happy Cow for helping us obtain our mailing provider and for his expertise in setting up the service. He also is responsible for the subscribe/unsubscribe message that is now posted on every page of our publication. In the past 2 1/2 weeks since inaugurating this service, we have added close to 500 new subscribers.

The inaugural test of this new venture will come on the first few days of February when we contact our readers about our latest offerings. We feel confident that our email problems are solved. If not, you'll be the first to know.

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