Email contact addresses

Recently seven years ago, someone asked what the options are. They’ve changed since then, but so you know what the answer was then..

Until 2019, you had two main ones:

1. Just put any email address as the contact email.

+ Easy to do

+ Could possibly avoid clients getting asked why they’re getting email from an escort site

+ You may have one already and quite possibly have a preference for Gmail / Protonmail / Yahoo* / Hotmail** / etc etc

– Possibly not quite as impressive or memorable as…

2. Have a ‘Name@YourDomain’-style email as the contact email. What it will actually do is just send mail onto a second email address which you tell us about.

+ Looks a bit more impressive and may be easier to remember

+ It’s possible to have anything @YourDomain sent to you, including misspellings of your name

+ If you have a Gmail account, it is possible to have that real address send as name@domain as well as receive mail for it..

– ..otherwise you will be getting emails to one address and replying to them from another

– It’s more work for us to set up

+/- You should know that email to your domain will be ‘greylisted‘*** to reduce spam. This involves delaying mail from addresses that you’ve not heard from before – including new potential clients – for about five minutes. Some other email services do this, some don’t

+/- You should also know that, as with almost any other email service, we could see the contents of mail to and from your domain if we wanted to. We don’t and won’t****, but if you don’t want to take the chance that we’re lying, it’s not for you!

Conclusion

Hardly anyone used the second option and everyone who did had switched to using Gmail or Protonmail when the imaginary PC***** that ran the mail server that handled their mail (and that for the IUSW) needed a big update.

At that point, it was much easier to say ‘Enough, we’re not running a full mail server for clients any more’, so use Gmail / Protonmail instead.

* Gmail is not perfect, but we’re not sure why anyone would have a preference for Yahoo…

** … or Hotmail / Outlook Live, whose main feature is that it’s not Yahoo.

*** Email involves having the computer sending it and the computer receiving it having a little conversation. It’s not literally ‘Hello, is there an email server there?’, ‘Yes, I’m an email server, who are you?’, ‘I’m…’ etc, but it’s not far off.

Greylisting is a brilliantly simple and effective method of reducing spam involving a fib in that conversation. When dealing with mail from addresses that it’s not had real email from before, the receiving computer says that it’s not ready to receive new email at the moment.

The idea is that proper email sending computers will remember that and try again in a few minutes, at which point the mail will be accepted. Spammers, on the other hand, use programs that are designed to send out many millions of emails as quickly as possible, so they don’t bother with repeating first time failures. If everyone did greylisting, it wouldn’t work, but they don’t and it does – just doing this stops over 99% of incoming spam!

**** Not just because we’re nice and wouldn’t do such a thing: we also know reading lots of “I’m a special snowflake – will you give me a discount / do what your website says you don’t offer / meet me in five minutes / take cheques etc” emails is very boring :)

***** What a ‘virtual private server’ actually is. One big powerful PC pretends to be several smaller ones. They don’t actually exist anywhere but software can behave as though they did and they’ve made having an internet server a lot cheaper than it used to be.

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