Email templating failure

Some day people will give up on the currently existing mass emailing systems. I've worked on one before, and I've tried to use one a couple of times. The biggest problems of those systems is that they are just easy to make mistakes... And there are two main types of mistakes (that don't happen on a normal email):

  1. Typo that causes your "personalization" to not work
  2. Formatting that doesn't work on all email readers.

The second one is actually more due to email readers not being the most standards-based application. Their support for things like HTML formatting is not very consistent. But what I've seen as being the most tricky thing about formatting on emails is related to text encoding. Some email clients expect different types of annotations for encoding, which causes you to not see what the other is expecting. Fonts are also tricky, as some email clients allow you to write your email on any font that exists on your computer, but when it gets to the recipient's computer, that font might not exist.

What triggered this post? The following email that I've received:

Transient

It shows all those issues in one!

There are other challenges with emails: the fact that you can't authenticate senders (technically the email protocol allows you to send an email claiming to be anybody that you want), you can't ensure that the email reached the recipient, and, mostly due to the first problem, everybody has spam filters that don't work 100% of the time to only remove spam. This is a bigger problem for people doing mailing lists or mass mailing, as they are on that boundary of fuzziness of what is Spam, so they very often are kicked to the Spam folder.

People have been talking about replacing emails for some time. Google claimed that they were going to do it through Google Wave, which died a horrible death. Other people claim that Facebook will kill email this time. And I do know some people that moved most of their communication there. But I still don't think that's the full answer. And if you don't have a full answer on a single service, I don't know if that's something that people will actually use. Anyway, I've deviated too much from the topic here. I'll approach the future of email on a future post.