Can I forbid a browser/email interface from putting in those stupid auto-links?
September 28, 2010 12:19 AM   Subscribe

I am planning on sending out a simple email newsletter for a museum composed in Outlook with tables. When I send this to my Yahoo account as a test, it's creating those damn links to pieces of the text that I didn't authorize. Do I have any control over not allowing these?

For instance, it is highlighting "oil painting" and linking it to some Yahoo-based nonsense. This newsletter is representing a museum and people may think that WE are putting in these links and that isn't good. Do I have any control over that sort of thing or is it totally up to the user and their browser/email interface settings?
posted by Foam Pants to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
Sounds like something Yahoo does, which means you have no control. The way to find out if that's the case, open a gmail account and try that as well.
posted by DreamerFi at 12:41 AM on September 28, 2010 [1 favorite]

If yahoo wants to add that kind of stuff to their interface that's their choice and I don't think you really have a say in the matter.

That said, I can think of potential ways that you might try to thwart it, such as inserting comments between characters, e.g. "<!-- foo -->o<!-- foo -->i<!-- foo -->l p<!-- foo -->a<!-- foo -->i<!-- foo -->n<!-- foo -->t<!-- foo -->i<!-- foo -->n<!-- foo -->g" or by rendering the text using hex entites. There are also a whole bunch of unicode characters that are invisible but can be inserted between letters: U+200B (ZERO WIDTH SPACE), U+FEFF (ZERO WIDTH NO BREAK SPACE), U+200C (ZERO WIDTH NON-JOINER), U+200d (ZERO WIDTH JOINER), etc. You could even do something like U+200F + U+200E, i.e. switch to right-to-left and then back to left-to-right. There are all sorts of unicode sequences like this that you could use. It all depends on how Yahoo does filtering before they go looking for keywords.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:21 AM on September 28, 2010

...and I must add that these techniques were probably all used by spammers at least 10 years ago to try to get their viagra ads past filters so doing this might cause your spam score to increase in certain cases. It's something you'd have to research and test.
posted by Rhomboid at 2:24 AM on September 28, 2010

From experience I would not recommend using Yahoo to send newsletters if your list is more than 50 people. You are doubtless going to get sent right to the spam folder in most cases. There are many very inexpensive CRM tools that could be used, such as Democracy in Action.
posted by parmanparman at 3:24 AM on September 28, 2010

parmanparman, If I've understood correctly, the problem is not sending mail from Yahoo accounts. It's sending mail to Yahoo accounts.

I don't use Yahoo Mail, but I assume "those damn links" refers to Yahoo Mail embedding keyword/advertising stuff in incoming email. Without getting into slightly slightly sketchy and doubtless rather fragile solutions like the possibility Rhomboid mentions, I don't think there's anything the sender can do about this.
posted by caek at 3:31 AM on September 28, 2010

Consider also that the people on Yahoo accounts who are receiving these newsletters will presumably be accustomed to Yahoo adding links to all of their incoming email -- I don't think there is any danger of recipients thinking they're your links.
posted by Doofus Magoo at 4:20 AM on September 28, 2010

I just checked my old yahoo account and didnt see any ad links in a couple of recent emails, saw regular links and some shortcuts to yahoo calendar that were denoted by dotted underlines. it's totally possible I do not have the right keywords in these emails, but be sure you dont have some browser bar adding stuff in.
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 7:50 AM on September 28, 2010

I still have a Yahoo! account and I know exactly what you're talking about--Yahoo! takes key words in the received email and puts dashed lines under them. When your mouse hovers over the dashed lines, a box pops up with an image or text ad. They also do it for things like addresses (they show a link to Yahoo! Maps) and emails ( something. The box didn't fill in, but I'm assuming it attempts to launch the form to send a new email).

They call it, btw, Y! Shortcuts, if you'd like to try googling solutions for that term. If you'd like to ask your *users* to turn the feature off, if they hover over a linked image and the Y! shortcuts image appears, they can click options and then decide what they want the darn lines to appear over. You'd just ask Yahoo! users to unclick all those boxes. Clunky, yes.

Consider, though, that not even the New York Times can get them to turn it off (I get the daily NYT headlines sent to my Y! email and those lines appear all over that email). Southwest Airlines and Threadless, btw, get around it by making their entire message an image rather than lines of text (remember that if you go that route, some folks will have text-only email readers or have HTML disabled).

I agree with Doofus Magoo--Yahoo! users for the most part are used to those in-email ads and don't tend to think they're part of your email. If you've got a lot of naive users (a museum? you could have lot of older folks as donors), then you might have an issue. Otherwise, it's just advertising and they're used to it.
posted by librarylis at 2:51 PM on September 28, 2010

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