There are times (many times) I hate Google.
There. I said it. I hate Google. They are the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and they don’t mind stepping on people. People like me.
You can’t reason with the gorilla—you can’t even talk with the gorilla. The gorilla postures and grunts and expects you to figure out what it wants. If you don’t give the gorilla what it wants, you get stepped on. Period.
This has happened with me three separate times over the past year, and many times in years previous. This week is another example of the gorilla stomping on me, and it gets frustrating.
Frustration doesn’t matter, though. I have no recourse. None. It is is an 800-pound gorilla, after all.
The lifeblood of my business is e-mail. I’ve been publishing an e-mail newsletter for over 25 years. That is longer than Google has even been around. I correspond with people all day long, receiving questions and responding. Lots of e-mail. All. Day. Long. Over 25 years.
So, this week, I start getting bounces when I send messages to people using Gmail addresses. Here’s one from this morning:
email@example.com host gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com [220.127.116.11] SMTP error from remote mail server after end of data: 550-5.7.1 [18.104.22.168 12] Our system has detected that this message is 550-5.7.1 likely unsolicited mail. To reduce the amount of spam sent to Gmail, 550-5.7.1 this message has been blocked. Please visit 550-5.7.1 https://support.google.com/mail/?p=UnsolicitedMessageError 550 5.7.1 for more information. s75si26335ybc.342 - gsmtp Reporting-MTA: dns; s8.sharonparq.com
So, Google is blocking messages I send. In my daily routine of interacting with people, I send a good chunk of messages to people using Gmail. And now they never get through. So people think I am ignoring their messages because it appears, to them, that I’m not responding.
But I am. And Google is blocking my messages. With regular “block lists,” you can appeal to a real person and say “hey, I’m not a spammer,” and eventually you’ll be removed from the list.
Not so with Google. They are the 800-pound gorilla. They are grunting and posturing and you are expected to read their mind. And you get stepped on.
Oh, wait… There’s a presumably helpful URL in the bounce message:
Nope. Not helpful. It suggests I use Gmail Postmaster Tools, which I started doing four days ago. I added my domain. Trying to follow their grunting, I added the verification string to my DNS that they. (DKIM isn’t good enough. Industry standards aren’t good enough. The 800-pound gorilla wants its own, special, non-standard verification string added. Just for them. Because 800-pound gorillas are special. Yep, special.)
The presumably helpful URL tells me that Gmail Postmaster Tools can give me “metrics on parameters such as reputation, spam rate, feedback loop, etc. It can help you prevent your emails from being blocked or sent to spam by Gmail.” Nope. More grunting. More posturing. It just isn’t there. “No data to display.” Just not there; more grunting.
The presumably helpful URL says that not all of my e-mail is being blocked. Yet, it doesn’t explain why EVERY message I send to a Gmail address is bounced. No spammy content. Most of the time, I’m simply replying to someone who sent me a message.
Replies apparently aren’t allowed. The 800-pound gorilla doesn’t like them. Even with the special DNS text string required by the special 800-pound gorilla.
So, if you have a Gmail address and you send me a message, don’t expect a response from me. I may have actually sent you a response, but the 800-pound gorilla won’t let you know that. Instead, I look like a non-responsive dolt to anyone using a Gmail account.
You cannot get the attention of the 800-pound gorilla. Gorillas don’t talk. They don’t want to talk. You can’t send them e-mails. You can’t call them on the phone. You can’t send them overnight letters. (I know. I’ve tried.) You can’t send them smoke signals. There are no real humans available, only an 800-pound gorilla. And grunting. And stomping.
Since I cannot communicate with the gorilla, I’m left with the conclusion that the only thing I can do is to change the IP address used by my mail server. Lots of work there, but perhaps the 800-pound gorilla will be placated. (Who knows?! I don’t, because the gorilla doesn’t communicate.) Or, I guess, I need to start using an e-mail hosting service and spending the bucks that such a service entails. Perhaps that will placate the 800-pound gorilla. But, again, who knows?!
[Technical side note: Block lists (including those maintained by Google) rely on IP addresses, not on e-mail addresses. Thus, I send out my newsletters using a return e-mail address of firstname.lastname@example.org through a sending service. That uses one set of servers using one set of IP addresses. I send out my personal e-mail using the same return address through my own server. That server necessarily uses an IP address separate from the servers through which the newsletters are sent. The block lists are tied to IP addresses, not to e-mail addresses. That is why someone with Gmail may receive my newsletters, but they won’t receive my personal responses to messages they may send me—it is MY mail server that is blocked by the 800-pound gorilla, not the mail servers through which the newsletters are sent.]
I really don’t like gorillas. They don’t play nice. They are mean. They aren’t reasonable. They are capricious. They don’t care. They don’t communicate.
I hate Google. Especially this week.