Yahoo Debacle Update
Last week I announced a major disaster, and asked for your help in getting the word out about True to help reverse the problem. A good number of you listened, and helped. Thank you. While the threat isn't gone, this newsletter will be able to continue.
Weekly Weird News
The previous post has the details, but the brief story is Yahoo blocked our newsletters to the vast majority of the 22,000+ True subscribers there, and I later learned they had been blocked for several weeks. That hit me right in the pocketbook, since that means I lost about 15 percent of my subscribers overnight, when things were already pretty grim for True due to the economy. Ouch.
What did my readers do? Hundreds of you sent personal recommendations to your friends, urging them to subscribe. And hundreds of them have. Dozens of you with blogs wrote about the problem (I linked back to some of the most interesting examples on my Yahoo Alert blog entry.) Hundreds of those blog readers have subscribed too. At least one of you wrote up the situation for Slashdot, and last Sunday that little article made the front page of that site, bringing thousands of site visitors -- and around 1,000 new subscription requests.
All of that, plus hundreds of complaints to Yahoo by angry readers, got Yahoo's attention. One of their top anti-spam gurus wrote me to get information, and then wrote back Tuesday to say they have lifted the block. Thank you, Carlo.
Meanwhile, ironically (and coincidentally), GMail dropped last Friday's issue into subscribers' "spam" folders. Between subscribers clicking the "Not Spam" button and several readers who work at Google who vouched for True, that shouldn't happen anymore. (Big difference between what happened at Yahoo and Google: Yahoo was blocking it, not putting issues in the "spam" folder, so there was no way to retrieve it. You could still find it if you had Gmail, and mark it "Not Spam". Please always do that if you ever find True -- or any other legit newsletter -- in your spam folder.)
There was still one more big step, though, for the 15,000ish subscribers using Yahoo: their subscriptions were "held" by Lyris (which does the e-mail distribution of these issues) due to the weeks-long block. For me on their web interface, "unholding" a subscription is a six-click process -- per address -- with some waiting between some of the clicks. Easy for one, but hardly a reasonable process for 15,000 addresses. The folks at Lyris, though, have direct access to the data base, and were able to "unhold" everyone with one command. Whew! That was completed today, and I thank them for that great help.
If you are at Yahoo and got a message from the server saying your subscription is "on hold", you can ignore it this time: the Lyris folks took care of it for you. (And if you followed the directions and you got a "Huh? You're not on hold!" response, that's why.) But if you ever get such a message in the future, and still want to get True, be sure to carefully follow the instructions given: it's not a "phishing" attempt.
All of this could have been avoided if people simply followed directions -- as you all agreed to do when you got your subscription! It might seem smart to "never use the unsubscribe link" on spam, but that's definitely NOT the case when you've asked for the mail! For anyone to use the "This is Spam" button on mail they asked to get is despicable: such people are lying and accusing responsible e-mailers of a crime. In extreme cases, like what happened to True, they are depriving others of getting the mail they really do want. They cry and whine about how bad it is to get spam ...and then they falsely accuse the good guys of doing it. In my book, falsely accusing someone of spamming is worse than spamming. It's no wonder virtually all of the good e-mail newsletters long ago died off: they were not only not supported by their readers, they were actively interfered with. And what a shame for such good newsletters to have gone away! You say you want e-mailers to act responsibly? That's certainly reasonable -- but only as long as you are responsible too. If you ask to get it, follow the directions when you want to stop. It's not "spam" until you do AND the mailer doesn't honor your request -- and I always do, instantly.
As I said, a lot of you rose to my aid, and I thank you. Some of you even upgraded to Premium subscriptions to show your support. The bottom line for any newsletter is we do desperately need your support: links, blog recommendations, referrals to friends, upgrades, sponsorships or ad sales, book sales, whatever. Without such support -- without the creators being paid for the huge amount of work that goes into such endeavors (and if the newsletter is good, it does take a lot of work) -- the newsletter will stop. If your favorite newsletter died, that's probably why. Thank you for not letting True die, but support -- for True or any other small operation -- isn't a one-time thing. If you value independent voices, you need to support them. If you don't, then all you'll get is corporate droning from the likes of Microsoft, Clear Channel, and News Corp. -- and you'll deserve the resulting boredom.
The bottom line for True: some hundreds of subscriptions that couldn't be recovered, which is a lot better than 15,000-22,000! Meanwhile, about 1,600 new subscribers came in, for a net total as I write this on the afternoon of August 8: down slightly to 108,963 direct subscriptions, which doesn't count pass-alongs (forwards) or people who read it on the web site (you do know that this page always has the latest issue, in case there's an e-mail problem, right?) So I do still need your continuing support. It definitely doesn't have to be an upgrade or other purchase: the most important way True grows is you telling friends about this free, funny (I hope!), yet thought-provoking newsletter from an independent voice. Thanks, again, for helping to save it.