I'm finding it honestly amazing how little good mailing list software information is out there.
I want two mailing lists set up for this site. You can see a "subscribe" box for one over on the left – it's the mailing list that gets notified when I make another devlog post, such as this one. The second is the mailing list on www.mandible-games.com which should get notified when I finally make a public release of D-Net (which I am, note, working on.) The mailing list management software should be smart enough to deal with multiple mailing lists properly, so that the user doesn't have to do the whole verify-that-this-is-actually-your-email dance twice. It should also have an interface that doesn't look like it came out of the 1990s. And, finally – and what's giving me the most trouble lately – it shouldn't get flagged by gmail as spam.
Seriously. About 2/3 of the people who have signed up with gmail accounts haven't verified their addresses. From my testing, the "authorization" mail goes straight into Ye Olde Spam Bucket. Why? I haven't been able to figure that one out, and trust me, I've been trying to. And before you say "screw gmail", I should point out that the gmail readers outnumber all my other readers, put together, by a factor of three. And one of the "others" is my lone Hotmail user who hasn't authorized either. I haven't tested to see if Hotmail tosses it into Ye Olde Spam Bucket also.
If 1/3 of the people who have expressed interest are actually able to receive emails, that is not a good ratio. It is a very, very bad ratio.
I feel like kind of a dick trying to evade gmail's spam filter, but the fact is that I want my emails to actually be received. I mean call me crazy here, but these people have signed up, explicitly, by typing their email into a form on my website – I think they might be interested in getting the newsletter. And yet, they are not.
Options that I've come up with:
- Try another software package, and see if that one bypasses the gmail spam filtering. I suspect it won't – the exact same message content sent from my personal email account goes right through to the Inbox with no issues.
- Use a paid provider. Problem: which one? There are dozens if not hundreds and I can't find any real information on them.
- Deal with most of my messages vanishing. I don't like this one.
- Figure out some way to bounce messages through the same mail servers that I use for personal mail. Eww.
I don't really like any of these, for various reasons. But I'll have to choose one. Time to start mucking with Option 4.
The advantage to all this work is that I'm getting a really, really good idea of what actually goes into a functional large-scale website – I just feel like I'm neglecting D-Net itself. Back to work though – it's almost finished, I think.