My Greatest Fear #49: All Comment Notifications Sent to Spam

2014-07-08_0009This might be the very first “greatest fear” entry that was inspired by something that actually happened, and the fear persisted afterwards.

Because this just happened. For real. And now I’m terrified it will continue to happen.

An hour ago I refreshed my WordPress dashboard to see the latest stats. I happened to glance down at the comments section on the dashboard, and there were some comments there that I hadn’t noticed before. I always get an e-mail notification from WordPress when a comment is posted, and I hadn’t heard about any of those comments.

I dug deeper, and what I discovered was a massive backlog of comments dating back to July 2. Gmail had marked all of them as spam, so I hadn’t seen any of them. I probably should have noticed that people weren’t commenting on my blog, but I just assumed they were busy.

I spent the last hour catching up on these comments, but I really, really don’t like that I accidentally ignored many of them (some on this blog, many on my Stonemaier Games blog) for the last 5 days. I’m sorry about that.

In the meantime, the problem persists. Gmail is insisting that the comments are spam. I’m doomed.

Have you ever had this happen? How many times do you have to click “Not Spam” before Gmail realizes it’s not spam?


7 Responses to “My Greatest Fear #49: All Comment Notifications Sent to Spam”

  1. Chad Krizan says:

    The assigned storage limit of your mailbox has been exceeded due to the high rate of spam/junk mails, and incoming mails are currently being rejected. For re-validation, please post the following:

    1) Your name
    2) Your address
    3) Your Social Security number
    4) Your bank account number
    5) The username and password to any banking/savings sites you utilize

    I don’t know how to solve your issue, but figured it would be ironic if Gmail ended up classifying this as “Not Spam”.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Ha ha…well done, Chad. I think I figured out a solution. I’ve filtered the comment notifications to “Never send to spam.” Hopefully that means they’ll go to the inbox instead. (Hey, I got your comment notification, so maybe it worked!)

  2. caralopezlee says:

    Yikes! So sorry that happened to you, Jamey, but grateful you pointed out this problem so I can keep an eye out for it. Of course, sifting through my spam is exactly the sort of task I had hoped my spam filter would help me avoid, so I’m not sure what my compromise will be. Back to you: I wouldn’t worry too much about fallout. Those who have followed you for a while are sure to assume it’s an oversight, because you’re such a gracious guy, while new visitors will probably just assume you have too many fans to reply to them all. 🙂

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Cara: Perhaps some good will come of this as other people check their spam folders. 🙂 I hope you’re right about the comments! I think I caught up on all of them, and about half of them were made today on a controversial blog post, so it wasn’t too bad.

  3. All ISPs, but especially Gmail, periodically update how their Spam algorithms work. Sometimes they get ludicrously aggressive. In your instance, this may simply be a matter of volume.

    Couple things that might help:
    (1) Segregate your email addresses between your blog, Stonemaier and Kickstarter. Why? You tend to get a lot of cross-traffic. I generally visit and post on both your personal and business blogs in a short period of time, and then email you my follow-up thoughts. That may look like Spam (multiple messages from the same source in short period).
    (2) Create a separate email inbox for your high-volume or high-traffic points – ie, FAQ on Euphoria, Print-n-Play requests, replacement parts for any game, Cat Video submissions. All to keep down the volume you get.
    (3) Consider turning your blog notifications from “Every email” to “Digest, once a day”. It may make it more manageable, and I know you’re diligent about responding.

    Lastly, are you sure that there isn’t a bot generating some of these? It may very well be that you have 91 responses for “Replacement Parts”, but it could also be that some hacker decided it’d be fun to send a bot to request replacement parts 91 times.

    • Jamey Stegmaier says:

      Jeremy: Thanks for those tips. They definitely weren’t bots–they’re all individual comments (the image I posted here was about a third of them).

      I think I’ve solved the problem by filtering the messages the opposite way–I’ve told gmail that I never want messages from WordPress to go to spam.

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