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Let's play e-mail basketball and get bounced

Editor David C. Harper informs e-mailers about how they can best deal with the latest "improvement" by the Information Technology department.

I am not the Maytag repairman, but I am the loneliest guy in town at the moment. When I signed on this morning, I had two e-mails from outside my firm. The rest were internal. That is not the way it should be. I should have anywhere from 20-40 e-mails to start my day and then continue to receive more as the day progresses.


This isn?t the fault of my readers. It isn?t the fault of my contributors. It also isn?t the fault of those hardworking public relations people who want to clue me in on new products, new hires or other business-related activities. They are all busily doing what they always do. Unfortunately, I don?t know it for the most part.

I don?t like being lonely. I can?t do my job being lonely. I contacted our Information Technology department over the course of the past week because my e-mail quantities have been steadily diminishing. They are tweaking the corporate anti-spam defenses. This happens periodically. It is an understandable function, but what they don?t seem to understand right this minute is that my lack of e-mail is a bad thing.

They declare it a triumph against spam. That part is true. I am safe from solicitations from 25-year-old women who have seen my name online and wonder if I want to have fun with them. Anything with an attachment or link is blocked.

My regular contributors tell me they cannot get their e-mails to me. They bounce back. They call me. I am grateful that they do, or I wouldn?t know the extent of my difficulties. IT says, no problem, just enter their e-mails on a white list. Problem solved.

Ah, but what IT doesn?t understand is the news business. Most of my e-mails are unsolicited. I don?t know when or whether they will come. A club secretary might thoughtfully send me a photo or two about a successful August picnic. It might be a new secretary with whom I have never dealt. It might be a veteran secretary who contacts me once or twice a year.

Unfortunately, contacts that infrequent don?t get cleared by our new spam defenses.
An auction firm might send me a heads up about lots in an upcoming sale. The major ones can be white listed, but that takes some time and the aggravation of the bounce back. It doesn?t impress them that I apologize for the inconvenience.

A reader might send me an image of a new discovery, or an item for which he or she needs help in identification. It gets bounced back because our computer system doesn?t recognize it. It can?t. More than likely, these e-mails come from people who have never tried to contact me or the paper before.

Help me out. If you have something to send, e-mail it without an attachment. Send it to I will hit Reply and write: ?Go for it.? Then you can Reply and send the attachment with that e-mail.

I would like to write more. I would like to thank each and every person who is trying to keep me informed, but with so many persons blocked, there simply is not enough time to write a personal note to each and every e-mailer.

At some point, I assume IT will get this situation sorted out and we will be back to normal. If not, I guess I will have to call the IGA grocery store in town and ask them if they want me to publish their weekly specials, because I won?t have anything numismatic to put into the paper.

I cannot begin to tell you how important e-mail has become. I cannot do my job without it. Much of the information comes here via e-mail. Most letters to the editor are by e-mail. Most images arrive by e-mail.

Please help me out. When you get the bounced message, try again with a short inquiry without an attachment. That is the work-around.

To each and every one of you who will do this, I say thank you in advance. In a perfect world it wouldn?t be this way, but we don?t live in a perfect world.

While the Maytag spokesman gets paid to pretend to be the loneliest guy in town, I don?t. I like the commercial, but not as something to illustrate my life.