Ever received email with words like FR’EE in them?

If so, it was probably spam am I right?  However I’ve noticed an increasing number of mailing lists that I’m on have started sending me email that looks like spam.  With mangled words in the body like FR’EE, F.REE, FR,EE and so on.

This is crazy as well as annoying, because even though I’m opted in to receive those mailings, when I receive them they look like spam.  In fact I accidentally deleted one the other day while quickly going through an account.

They also hurt readability as it causes me to stop part way through a sentence even if only for a fraction of a second, but it halts the flow of the text.

So why have the authors started to do it?

Well, they want to use the magic words (now overused in my opinion) that trigger attention.  Words like "free" and "sex", and my personal favourite phrase "free sex".


Anyway, if they use those in their emails, what do you think happens?  They trigger a spam filter and the email either gets marked as spam or put in the spam folder or deleted or any combination of those things.

The reasoning is, they break up the spammy words by putting punctuation in them.  D’oh!  Talk about shooting yourself in the foot!

So now, even though the email is a legitimate opted-in newsletter, it looks like spam.  Because guess what?  Putting punctuation in words is exactly what the spammers do to get them past spam filters.  And admins running those spam filters know this, so they get an even higher spam rating.

Isn’t that just daft?  I read a bit of advice a couple of years ago about working on the web, and it simply said "keep it real".

That’s good advice.  Just ignore what’s going on with spam and deliverability, and do what you do best.  Ultimately your message will get across.

This has been a topic on my mind for a while now, but this piece was finally prompted after I read an article by Tom Kulzer of Aweber called Punctuation Reputation.  Go and have a read. 

Posted by Frank Haywood