Seven Words You Can’t Say In E-mail

My guess is there are a lot more than “seven words”: that will get your e-mail newsletter sent to the penalty box and one of them has to be “porn”.

Stefan Eyram wrote an article this week provocatively titled “Porn, The Best Practices Industry”. I was just about to send our weekly summary e-mail newsletter to the list (expect it at 11:45AM folks) but on my final check before hitting send I paused and thought “Hmmm, good article, but if I put that title in there no one is going to see it because it will get caught by every spam filter worth its download.”

So I took it out and added this line at the top of the newsletter:

(We are not providing a link to one of our posts this week because we thought it might trigger filters — you’ll have to come to the site to get the link)

This raises a few questions:

  1. What *are* the terms that will get you sidelined by most spam filters? (Consider generally accepted offensive language as a given — no need for potty mouth in the comments folks!)
  2. Is there a list somewhere?
  3. How much should we change our content to satisfy overly aggressive filters? I remember at one time used “phree” instead of “free” in the e-mail versions of their articles. Confused the hell out of me.
  4. Should we “bleep out” dangerous words? I was going to rename the article “P**n, The Best Practices Industry” or “Pron, The Best Practices Industry” but it seems to me that filters must be looking for that kind of stuff by now anyway.

Bonus Question: Is anyone filtering feeds for content? I.e. might posts in our feed with the word Porn trip some corporate filter? Your insights are welcome.

Originally published at on November 23, 2005.