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E-mail Glossary


 Autoresponders (Mailbots): Automated programs which are established to return a prewritten message upon receipt of e-mail. Program will grab the return address from the "header" of the message. Typically, these programs will send out the canned message within seconds of receipt.

 Aliasing (redirecting): Using a fictitious address with which to send and receive e-mail. Typically done to avoid having people write to long "real" e-mail addresses or if underlying e-mail address is subject to change. Provides a permanent address to the world.

 Attachment: An attachment is a file that is sent along with an email message. The file can be of any type (for example a spread sheet, a word processor document, an image, or an mp3).

 Base64: It is a method of encoding arbitrary binary data as ASCII text. This is necessary for sending files via Internet email, which can only handle 7-bit ASCII text. Since Base64 encoding divides three bytes of the original data into four bytes of ASCII text, the encoded typically is about a thrid bigger.

 Bcc: A Bcc (blind carbon copy) is a copy of an email message sent to a recipient whose email address does not appear in the message. This is in contrast to To and Cc recipients, whose addresses do appear in the respective header lines. Every recipient of the message can see all the To and Cc recipients, but does not know about Bcc recipients.

 Blacklist: A Blacklist collects known sources of spam. Email traffic then can be filtered against a blacklist to remove spam. If an Internet service provider provides this service to a spammer and does not take action after a warning by the blacklist's administrators, all email traffic -- also by legitimate users -- from this provider is blocked. This usually creates anger among the provider's non-offending users, which will force the service provider to take action against the spammer.

 Body: The main part of an email message containing the actual, arbitrary data such as text or images. As opposed to the header, which contains control and meta-information. In the SMTP standard, the body is the full email message. The header here is only information servers need to deliver the message.

 Bounced Message: A returned, can't deliver e-mail message.

Click-Through Rate (CTR): Measures how many people of one hundred clicked on a link in an email on average. The click-through rate does not take into account people who later came to a Web site in response to an email marketing campaign, so it can be used to measure the direct response only.

 Double Opt-In: A user has subscribed for a newsletter or other email marketing messages by explicitly requesting it and confirming the email address to be her own. This is usually done by responding to a confirmation email sent to the email address in question. This eliminates the chance of abuse where somebody submits somebody else's email address without their knowledge and against their will.

 E-mail Address: The address used to reach someone via email. The format of an email address is user@domain. For example, my email address is email.guide@about.com where "email.guide" is the user name and "about.com" is the domain. Typically, you'll get an email address from your Internet Service Provider, company, school, or a Web-based email service such as Hotmail or Yahoo! Mail. Alternate Spellings: Email Address.

 E-mail address Appending: Email address appending merges a database of email addresses with an existing marketer's database to add email as an additional means of contact to the latter database. The database of email addresses usually is from a third party opt-in email marketing service, but it can also be an in-house list of newsletter subscribers. Because the subscribers to the opt-in list have not given explicit permission to the marketer whose database their email addresses are appended to, messages may be conceived as spam.

 E-mail client: A program used to read and send email messages. As opposed to the email server, which transports mail, an email client is what the user interacts with. Typical email clients are Outlook Express or Eudora.

 E-mail server: A program running at Internet Service Providers and large sites constantly connected to the Internet used to transport mail. Users normally do not interact with email servers: email is submited with an email client to an email server, which delivers it to the recipient's email client. The most widely used email server is sendmail. Also Known As: Mail Transport Agent, MTA, Mail Transfer Agent.

 Encoding: A method of sending binary (non-text files) with e-mail messages. Common encoding options include: Mime, BinHex, UUencode, etc. Sender and receiver must both use the same method.

 Eudora: Popular email client by Qualcomm available for Windows and Macintosh. Its name was inspired by the short story "Why I live at the P.O." by Eudora Welty.

 Header: The first part of a received e-mail message which contains information about the routing of the message while traversing the Internet such as the Subject, origin and destination email addresses, the path an email takes, or its priority. Much of this may not be displayed if the e-mail software program keeps it hidden (usually an option).

 IMAP: A protocol that defines an email server and a way to retrieve mail from it. IMAP is a more recent and more advanced standard for mail storage than POP. It allows for messages to be kept in multiple folders, supports folder sharing, and online mail handling where email message need not be stored on the user's computer. The current version is IMAP4. Also Known As: Internet Messaging Access Protocol.

 LDAP: A protocol for accessing directory information. LDAP or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol is used by browsers and email clients to look up email addresses. LDAP is a simple form of DAP, the Directory Access Protocol, which provides access to X.500 directory services. Because DAP is complex and difficult to implement, it has not gained widespread acceptance. LDAP does not provide all the functionality of DAP, but is easier and much cheaper to implement. Also Known As: Lightweight Directory Access Protocol.

 Mailer Daemon: A Unix program used in the management of e-mail messages. Not generally encountered by a user unless the user gets a bounced message.

 Mailing List: A collection of e-mail addresses of people who have asked to receive regular mail discussions on a particular topic, and for which they can sometimes submit messages for disbursement to the entire group.

 Mailing List Manager: An automated program to handle the administrative functions of adding/removing subscribers, disseminating the message postings, sending topic related and help files, etc. for the entire Mailing List. Example MLMs include Majordomo, Listserv, ListProc, Mailbase, etc.

 Mailto: A HTML tag that allows visitors to a site click on a link that creates a new message in their default email client. The message is automatically addressed to an address specified in the tag. Additionally, the Subject, Body and even arbitrary header lines of the message can be specified.

 MIME: A method to send content other than ASCII text via email. Arbitrary data is encoded as ASCII text for MIME. Currently, most email clients support MIME and can send and receive files of arbitrary type. Also Known As: Multipurpose Internet Mail Extensions.

 Open Relay: When the Internet was young, people trusted each other (or there simply weren't too many of them) and everybody was allowed to use everybody else's SMTP server. The server would take the email message and forward it to the intended recipient. Spammers exploited that openness. They sent their unsolicited messages through somebody else's mail server, thereby masking their real identity to the recipient. This is why most mail servers will not accept messages for relaying today. Servers that will accept such messages are known as open relays.

 Opt-In: Opt-in email marketing means sending marketing messages only to people who explicitly requested them. If a customer asks for a specific piece of information, you have the permission to send that information and nothing more. To continue sending marketing emails you need the explicit permission to do so ("Please send me announcements and special offers via email", for example). Also note the difference between single opt-in and double opt-in. Also Known As: Permission-based marketing).

 Opt-out: Opt-out email marketing assumes a general permission to send marketing messages to everyone who has not explicitly stated that they do not want to receive such information. Spammers operate on this highly problematic premis. Opt-in email marketing, where messages are only sent to those who request them, is much more effective. Think of opt-out marketing as a never-ending chain of mailing list that you are automatically subscribed to. While you can unsubscribe ("opt out of") each list individually, it won't be long before a new list emerges, and of course you're automatically subscribed. Also Known As: Spam.

 POP: A protocol that defines an email server and a way to retrieve mail from it. Incoming messages are stored at a POP server until the user logs in and downloads the messages to their computer. The current version is POP3. While SMTP is used to transfer email messages from server to server, POP is used to collect mail with an email client from a server. Also Known As: POP3, Post Office Protocol.

 Postmaster: The person to contact at a particular server/site to get help, or information about that server/site. Also the person to contact to register a complaint about a user's behavior.

 Public Key Cryptography: Public key cryptography uses a key with two parts. The public key part is used for encryption exclusively for the recipient, whose private key part is applied for decryption. For public key cryptography to be save it is important that only the intended recipient knows the private part of the key. A security package in widespread use with email that uses public key cryptography is PGP. Also Known As: Public Key Encryption, Public/Private Key Cryptography.

 RFC: Request For Comments (RFC) is the format Internet standards are published in. RFCs relevant for email are published by the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) and include RFC 821 for SMTP, RFC 822, which specifies the format of Internet email messages, or RFC 1939, which lays down the PO protocol. Also Known As: Request For Comments.

 Signature Line: A set of 4 - 8 lines of text placed at the end of a mail message to provide the reader with the author's contact information, favorite quote, special of the month, autoresponder/web site address, etc. The signature line is composed and placed into the e-mail software's signature file for automatic appending. Also Known As: sig

 Single Opt-In: A user has subscribed for a newsletter or other email marketing messages by explicitly requesting it. This may happen via email by filling a form on the Web, for example. Contrary to double opt-in, email addresses submitted to the list are not verified. This makes it possible to sign up somebody without their knowledge and consent.

 SMTP: The protocol used for email on the Internet. It defines a message format and a procedure to route messages through the Internet from source to destination via email servers. Also Known As: Simple Mail Transfer Protocol.

 SPAM: Spam is unsolicited email. Not all unsolicited email is spam, however. Most spam is sent in bulk to a large number of email addresses and advertises some product or -- far less often -- political viewpoint. Spam is an email message that you did not ask for and do not want from somebody you do not know, who wants to sell you something. Also Known As: UBE, UCE, unsolicited bulk email, unsolicited commercial email.

 Spammer: Someone who sends spam.

 Spamvertise: Something is spamvertised when it is promoted (or merely appears) in spam. The term is commonly used with Web sites or email addresses that are part of the body of an unsolicited commercial email. Alternate Spellings: Spamvertize.

 Subject: The Subject of an email message should be a short summary of its contents. Email clients usually display it in a mailbox display together with the sender. Just like the sender, the date of the message and other meta-information, the Subject belongs to the email header.

 Web-based Email: An email account that is accessed through a Web browser. The interface is implemented as a Web site that provides access to the various functions like reading, sending or organizing messages. Emails are typically not downloaded to the user's computer but stored on the Web-based email service provider's servers. Popular examples of Web-based email services include Hotmail and Yahoo Mail. Also Known As: Webmail, Web-Email, Webbased Email. Alternate Spellings: Web-based E-mail.

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