Beyond the spam filter

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While providing an invitation to someone about a web-service (such as a Gmail invitation) most of the times, that e-mail is marked as spam and one has to log in to the spam folder and fish out the message. There isn’t a solution to this problem. So far, I didn’t experience the problem with Zoho Writer – for there are more files shared by and with me rather than stand alone documents, which goes on to say how people are making full use of the Online Word-processing potential. But this article points out that a similar problem was encountered while sharing a document with Zoho Writer.

The solutions that the article suggests aren’t perfect (as pointed out in the article itself.) The article suggests

(a) Using the sender’s e-mail and make the invitation more personal

(b) Sending out an e-mail first explaining what this is all about first.

The text of Gmail invitation is customizable, making it more personal than a generic text, yet it gets marked as spam. However it is always helpful to have a more personal invitation. The text of the invitation would be a lot better if it was in the following format:

“You have been invited by [sender's name/e-mail] to view/edit (as the case may be – read only/read write) the document created using Zoho Writer. Zoho Writer is an Online Wordprocessor that you can use to create, edit, share and publish documents. To know more about Zoho Writer click here (supplemented by a link to blog posts about Zoho Writer)”

For someone who isn’t used to the idea of Online Word-processors, Office 2.0 and Sharing, it can all be very confusing. While I send out invitations, I send a separate e-mail first, explaining the process before sending out an e-mail invitation. The simplest solution will be to have a customizable message field within Zoho Writer itself, where a user can type in the text about what sharing is, prior to sharing it with a technically disinclined friend.

Then again, the problem of the e-mail getting marked as spam isn’t solved by merely personalizing the invitation text. (I get lot of personalized Spam, so to speak :) ) This calls for an understanding of how spam filters work so that this issue can be fixed at least partially. This also calls for intelligent spam filters (and not merely “powerful” spam filter), that can distinguish between genuine e-mails from other third party websites and spam.