Email Etiquette and Whitelisting

This week I received an email from someone suggesting that we get together to network and learn about each other's businesses. Like me, she lives in Seattle.

I enthusiastically emailed my reply. Then I received this response:

"I apologize for this automatic reply to your email.

"To control spam, I now allow incoming messages only from senders I have approved beforehand.

"If you would like to be added to my list of approved senders, please fill out the short request form (see link below). Once I approve you, I will receive your original message in my inbox. You do not need to resend your message. I apologize for this one-time inconvenience."

The link below the message took me to a screen in which I had to verify my name and email address and type the wavy letters I saw in a box.

It took me only a minute to read the message and take the action. The one-time inconvenience was brief. But why inconvenience others at all, especially if we are reaching out to them? 

I suggest that people who use such spam-control methods add people to their whitelist (their list of people whose email will be accepted) before they send them email. If they do so, replying will be hassle-free for those they want to correspond with.

What do you suggest?

Syntax Training


  1. I totally agree with you, Lynn! The sender could have at least given recipients a heads-up:

    “After you send your reply, please don’t be alarmed if you receive an automated anti-spam security message. It’s quick and painless–promise!”

  2. Great topic to cover Lynn! It is not only a matter of inconvenience for the recipient, but one risks the other side not following through even though such minimal effort is required.

    I have a couple articles on my Business E-mail Etiquette site that you might find helpful with this topic, including links to how to whitelist and not look spammy (the number one reason e-mails are blocked).

    HTH! Looking forward to more of you posts!

    At your service,

  3. I definitely agree with you Lynn, and Judith. As I was reading this post, I was thinking to myself that I would never follow that link for fear that it was a phishing scam. Unless I know the person or service emailing me I am just as wary as they were.

    I think whitelisting before sending out an email is a must – if you want to solicit my help, business, or just opinions, I don’t want to be inconvenienced.

  4. I hate these spam control tools to begin with. They essentially shift the burden of spam control from the receiver to the sender, which I think is bad practice. Most e-mail programs come with a way for the user to designate that an e-mail is spam and from that time on will block the e-mail address. The receiver should do this, rather than force the sender through extra steps. More than once I’ve decided not to bother with this process. I can’t imagine I’m the only one.

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