Saturday, July 05, 2008

Sittin' In The Gmail Penalty Box

I'm banned from using Gmail for 24 hours. To use a hockey analogy, I'm in the penalty box for a Major infraction! Why?

Well, a few days ago I decided to offer a new service with my computer donation program. The genesis for the idea came about last weekend when we rented a truck and delivered a dozen computers around Vancouver. The systems we're handing out these days are generally 1.5+ GHz Pentium 4's with lots & lots of freeware software loaded. Talking with some of the recipients, it became immediately obvious that most will have great difficulty figuring out the basics. The fact that all this other stuff is loaded, including a ZoneAlarm like utility isn't going to lessen their learning curve, but will likely make it worse.

While we don't have the resources (everyone's a volunteer) to provide telephone support, I thought that it would be interesting to let past recipients send in their questions to Danny. Think of it like "Dear Abby" but totally tech.

So, I exported all the e-mail addresses from our database into a spreadsheet, and proceeded to send a prepared e-mail to 50 people at a time. There were 924 in total. I don't like the webmail app our website provider offers so I decided to use Gmail, which I love, instead. With Gmail, there's an easy way to pretend you're sending e-mail from a different account that you also control. Thus, everyone would think I was actually sending it from my account.

So I proceeded: 50, 100, 150 .... Some bouncebacks started occurring but I thought nothing of them because some of these addresses were 2.5 years old. Undoubtedly some would be defunct. 200, 250, 300 ... 500 ... and then KABOOM!

Gmail informed me that I had reached the 500 per day limit with that many bouncebacks occurring. Their automated system suspected I was a spammer.

So I'm now banned from using it for 24 hours. Lesson learned!

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