"I did not receive my Column Alert!"

Readers have occasionally said they asked to receive the "Column Alert" e-mail when the new column is posted, but did not receive it.

I moved to the web in 2010 and despite sometimes being in places where an internet connection was difficult, husband Art has managed to post a new column every Friday for the past decade. This is typically done around 9 a.m. Central Standard Time, although it may occur much earlier - which is more common - or later.

After it is posted, he sends an alert to those who have requested a reminder.

While it is possible that string will at some point be broken, if you experience a problem, it is more likely that the problem is elsewhere. If you cannot see the latest column, I suggest reading I cannot see the current column.

But if you did not receive a requested alert, the problem is most likely much less complicated. While it is rare - it has not happened here yet - the address file for the alert mailing could become corrupted. If you do not receive a requested alert, send me an e-mail and we will check.

But the much more likely problem is YOUR e-mail system's SPAM blocking system.

Whether you receive your e-mail through a large system such as GMAIL, a medium sized one such as the one at KSU.EDU or some small provider, SPAM is a problem. They try to assure that legitimate communications get through, but those you did not request in some fashion are blocked. People who operate SPAMMING operations attempt to evade these.

The problem is there is no reliable rule that can separate desired communications from SPAM. So most internet providers use a "scoring" system. A certain number of "points" are assigned if a communications comes from a country that has traditionally supported SPAM mailers. Points are assigned if an e-mail comes from a known SPAM site. Points are assigned if there are many recipients. Sending messages with the BCC choice also earns points. There are many more ways a message can earn points.

Different providers can choose how many points are required before something is flagged as SPAM. Some have three levels: below a certain number, the message is assumed to be legitimate and is sent to the recipient. Some intermediate range allows the message to get through, but with an additional message attached that typically says something like "This may be SPAM." Above this range, the message is blocked.

Yet another way of handling high-scoring messages is to send them to a SPAM folder where the recipient can go through them to see if some of these messages were legitimate.

So why would the alert be blocked by some SPAM detection systems? The alert earns points because it is sent to many people. It earns more because it is sent BCC. Many SPAM senders try to disguise who is really sending a message by passing it through different providers or by using a fake user name. A name appears to be fake when the message comes from a provider whose name does not match the name on the e-mail. But there are many times when this is quite normal - as it is with us. The alert is sent from the kansassnapshots.com address, but that is not the name of the company we rent webspace from. This situation will earn the alert message points.

So what does this mean for you? It means that the alert message may trigger your providers SPAM detection system - something we have no control over. Our only suggestion is to check your SPAM folder OR to conact your provider and alert them to the situation. Some have so-called "white lists" they can add sites to that will allow messages from the site to get through, even though they normally trip the SPAM software.

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