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Checking Your Email (“The Invitation Was in the Spam Folder!”)

About This Document

This document highlights the risks of important email messages being treating as ‘spam’ and potentially never being seen – and provides suggestions for how to address this issue.

Are Important Email Messages Stored In Your Spam Folder?

Your side has been invited to a festival – but you haven’t received confirmation or details of the programme. Yes this happens, as can be seen from a recent discussion on Facebook: important email messages can be treated as spam and held in a spam folder – and then, after a short period, will probably be deleted.

Figure 1: The Importance of Checking Spam Folders

As well as messages from folk festivals other important messages which you could miss may include messages from:

  • Potential new recruits, who may be interested in joining your side.
  • The venue you use for practices, perhaps letting you know that the venue may be unavailable.
  • The Morris Federation, providing updates of interest to your side.
  • Your Internet service providers, letting you know that your website will be removed unless the annual payment is received.

As these example illustrate, missing emails can have a significant impact on the running of your side! (When writing this document one person commented on the dangers of missing paid bookings: “It was only when someone phoned me to ask why I hadn’t replied to her email inviting us to perform at a fete, that I realised I had a really bad spam filter problem.“)

Minimising Risks

Checking Your Spam Folder

The first think to do is to open your email application and go to your spam folder (which may be labelled Junk email, as shown below).

Figure 2: Checking Your Spam/Junk Email Folder

You may find obvious spam messages, such as the top two and last message shown above. But there may also be legitimate messages, which you would not wish to be treating as spam, such as the message on “[MDDL] lecture “Naming the Green man of the medieval church”” in the screenshot. If this happens you should flag such messages as ‘Not junk‘. In the Microsoft Outlook email client this can be done by right-clicking the message and selecting the Junk and then Not junk option as shown below.

Figure 3: Managing Messages in Spam/Junk Email Folder

Note: other email programs (e.g. Gmail) and email programs on mobile devices will have different ways of retrieving messages in spam folders.

Specifying ‘Safe’ Senders

Note the technique described in this “Specifying Safe Senders” section describes the technique available on Microsoft Outlook on MS Windows. If you use a different email program similar functionality may be available, but accessed in a different way.

The technique given above will let you move a message from a spam folder to other folders. But if it’s a message from someone you may expect to receive other messages from (e.g. a folk festival organiser) you are advised to add their email address to a list of ‘safe’ senders.

As shown in Figure 3, you can select Never Block Sender so that further messages from the address should arrive in your incoming email folder.

Figure 4: Adding a ‘safe’ domain

Figure 3 also shows the option Never Block Sender's Domain (@example.com) which can be used if you expect to receive email messages from a number of people from the same organisation. A good example of how you might use this would be to select a message from a member of the Morris Federation committee and add the Morris Federation domain (@morrisfed.org.uk) to your Safe Senders list. Messages from all Morris Federation Committee should then arrive in your incoming email folder.

Figure 5: Junk Email Options

The final option shown in Figure 3 is Junk E-Mail Options. You can use this to specify how suspected junk email is treated and to check your list of blocked and safe senders, as shown in Figure 5.

Adding Email Addresses to Your Contacts

Another approach you can use to avoid important messages being treated as spam is to add the contacts to your email program’s contact list. which can be used on all email programs:

Gmail: Hover over the sender’s name for a few seconds until a window pops up and then select “Add to Contacts” to save the sender to your Contacts list.

Apple Mail: Select the From, or Reply-to on the email message and then “Add to Contacts”.

Outlook.com: After opening an email message an alert message should display with, “Parts of this message have been blocked for your safety.” Beneath this, click the link with, “I trust xxx@exampe.com. Always show content

Android devices: Open the email message from and touch the picture of the sender that displays before the message. Tap “Add to Contacts.”

Conclusions

Spam email is a major concern and providers of email programs and related services work hard to minimise the amount of spam which is sent to their users. However sometimes email messages are treated as spam when this isn’t the case – and if you welcome messages such as:

I've a Nigerian prince and would like to give you $39million ...

being flagged as spam you might understand why messages such as the following re treated similarly!

I've a folk festival organiser and would like to invite your side to my festival - free tickets and free camping will be provided!

So in reality there will be a need to recognise that important email messages may be flagged as spam, and those who mange a side’s email account will need to check spam folders regularly and, ideally, ensure that important contacts are added to safe senders lists.


We welcome feedback on this document. In addition we would like to hear from morris, sword and other traditional dance sides who use IT and would be willing to share their experiences. Would you like to contribute a case study?


Status of this Document

Document published: 21 July 2022

Licence for this Document

This document is available with a Creative Commons Sharealike (CC-BY) licence. In brief, this means you can copy and make changes to this document provided you give acknowledgements to the author/publisher. A suggested wording for acknowledgements is:

This document is based on the "Checking Your Email ("The Invitation Was in the Spam Folder!")" document by Brian Kelly, Comms and IT volunteer with the Morris Federation.

#MorrisFedITResources #MFITResources

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