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Christopher Knight

Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) Trend Watch: Universal Unsub Coming To An ESP Near You
By Christopher Knight

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Big ISPs such as AOL, Yahoo and others have created a "this is spam" abuse reporting tool that is often mis-used by their technologically-illiterate userbase. This may cause your ezine to be blocked unfairly. What is really needed is a universal "UNSUBSCRIBE" button so that anyone can get off your email list without reporting you as a spammer regardless if they are competent enough to figure out how to get off your list or not. In addition, end-users should be able to offer a range of feedback from a simple UNSUB request to a "This is really spam" complaint.

The problem with the "This is Spam" button:

1) Users don't know that they are reporting you as a spammer and they are just looking for a lazy or easy way off your list. 2) You usually don't know that you've been reported for spamming unless your email list hosting service provider notifies you. 3) There is no universal procedure between email service providers and their clients as to who qualifies for being notified when their users report them as spam. 4) The big ISPs know that their users are not really reporting everyone as spam, so they have created a lie or at least a tool that is not efficient or credible for the original reason it was created.

The solution to this problem is currently code named: "Abuse Reporting Format (ARF)"

It's all about standardizing the feedback loop between end users, the ISP, the ESP and the ezine or email publisher. I decided to dig in deeper on this issue to give you a preview of what the top techies in the Email Service Provider (ESP) industry is doing to address this issue. ARF has (3) intent goals:
  1. To inform ISPs about email abuse originating from or related to their networks
  2. To provide feedback about abuse complaints to email service providers and relevant third parties (such as reputation providers)
  3. To inform email service provides about opt-out requests -Source
The new ARF protocols allows multiple explanations during feedback reporting from end users of your ezine instead of a flat out single spam rejection reason via the current 'this is spam' button. Currently, the ARF project is only in beta-testing with several ISPs, so expect it to take 4-12+ months before it gets rolled out with the major providers. Related Additional Reading:

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for November 17, 2005

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