Gmail Team – Please Fix These First

I know the new additions to Gmail are just tweaks, and mainly created in Google “20% time” but these little problems cause me no end of frustration.

Gmail Spam False Positives

I have to read my spam folder daily, because it gets sometimes 200 spam email messages, and within that may be as many as 5% false positives.

These are emails I want to receive, which I have signed up to receive, I have confirmed a subscription with a full “double opt-in” process, and are from senders I previously had no problems receiving email from.

Some examples are occasional emails from list owners with Aweber – Aweber have only 100% clean opt-in email – if an email is sent from Aweber, I have asked for it, I want to read it, or keep it on file. It is not spam.
Even if a user reports an email from Aweber as spam, it isn’t spam – they should have to unsubscribe like normal people.

There are others, such as our good friends at, responsible for WebProNews etc – I want their emails

In the past I have even had problems with my own contact form results ending up in SPAM, but here is the most unusual to date.

Google Alert In Spam Folder

Yes that is an email from Google, actually a Google Alert in my spam folder in Gmail.

Advertising positioning

This one is a shout out for all the Awords advertisiers who want reduced click fraud and false clicks.

False Clicks Gmail

Maybe this is a rare occasion, but every now and then, especially when going along in a car on a bumpy road (they have bumpy roads here in Poland), I might accidentally click an advert and not the layer with the link to update the email thread.

I hate the thought of those clicks costing someone money.

If it was an Adsense advertisier with that positioning, Google wouldn’t be happy.


It is worth checking out the full update on the Google Gmail blog, and Andy Beal has added a few different problems he encounters.

While you are over at Marketing Pilgrim, don’t forget to check out my competition entry if you missed it, or forgot to Stumble it.

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  1. says

    Hi Andy,
    I can certainly identify with your frustration about important email messages ending up in the spam folder in Gmail. I also regularly scan the spam folder in my Gmail accounts, just to make sure that no message from friends or people I’ve agreed to receive messages from were caught in the filter. In fairness to Gmail, such “false positives” are very rare in my case, definitely lower than the 5% that you’ve experienced. Also, I think the system is “trainable” – messages I’ve despammed never end up in the spam folder again, which is not the case in a competing service that I also use.

    I agree that Gmail should work out these kinks before introducing other innovations, but from someone who relies on their service for a large part of my web communication, I’d give them a good review, personally. Looking at the contents of my spam folders, I shudder at the thought of seeing these garbage in my inbox without the Gmail filters.

  2. says

    This is easy to fix yourself. If you find a false positive in the spam box, just view the email, then click the little arrow in the upper-right-hand-corner of the email… then select the “Add to contacts” option. This will add the sender to your contact list. Users on your contact list will not have any of their messages go to spam.

    Sometimes the catch is that from some newsletters (or even some friends) their email address might change, or they might use multiple different email addresses. Adding each one will eventually take care of it. If the option to add the user to your contact list exists, it means they aren’t already in your list. If they were already in your list, this wouldn’t be an option.

    After doing so, of course, click the “not spam” button to get the message back out of your spam box.

    • says

      I certainly know how to whitelist individual email addresses, but that isn’t really a solution

      There is no way in Gmail currently to say that all aweber sent emails are not spam, and the same with Google

      What happens if the next email from Google is an employee? Probably quite important.

  3. says

    It took months of tagging WebProNews as spam to get it out of my inbox. Its spam as far as I am concerned. Opting out did not stop the emails.

    • says

      Ah but Jim maybe you are doing it wrong – after it is no longer spam, you then filter it.

      I can’t even remember how I got added to their lists in the first place, probably from being a forum member.

  4. says

    Well I could be wrong but my marking webpronews as spam, along with many other people, may have landed the webpronews emails in your spam box.

    I had a similar experience with Google Calendar emails landing in my spam folder a few months back. I have not marked any of those as spam.

  5. says

    Yes we’ve had similar experiences too – good to point this up, perhaps they will put more effort in changing that first before implenting new ideas/products.

  6. says

    I love the bumpy roads example lol. Imagine what Google explanation about these clicks would be:

    “After investigating instances for fraudulent clicks we have determined that too many people are checking their e-mail while driving on bumpy roads in Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe. To remedy this situation no ads will be served to any one who is driving on bumpy roads from now on..”

    I can’t stop laughing…. However, you do not need to be on a bumpy road to accidentally click those ads. Really bad position to place the link to update the conversation.

  7. says

    Yes, I’ve seen a Google alert land in my gmail spam folder as well. I thought it was pretty funny at the time. Although, if I got as much daily spam as you do, I may not think so. Even with it’s quires, compared to my other spam filters, gMail seems pretty good. I trust it more than my ThuderBird, and Excite filters.

  8. says

    hey andy,

    sorry, but aweber does not have 100% clean opt in lists. they are known for spammers. being technically compliant with can-spam does not mean people are not sending spam.

    gmail goes by repuation. bad reputation equals spam folder for gmail.

    a lot of times it is spammers (i mean internet marketers) who get someone to optin or purchase x and then feel it is okay to start sending them emails about y, z, f, g, ha which the subscriber or customer did not request hence more spam complaints.

    big jason

    • says

      Jason I get that point, and I know you are an expert on this.

      I am sure it happens that a few rogue marketers blast their flower arranging list with their latest fantasy football offer, but all the customer has to do is hit the unsubscribe.

      In a situation such as that, with a service like Aweber, that shouldn’t have a detrimental effect on everyone using the service.

      I should be able to whitelist Aweber globally, and every email sent from my own domains, even if my contact form has both the sender and reply to as the person contacting me.

      There is no problem retaining the mechanism used by webmail that anyone on your contact list is whitelisted, but there needs to be something more…

      • says

        its much more than a few, and in many cases they are not roughe persay. it is common in the make money online niche( of which aweber caters to) to promote “related” offers to your list that may not seem far featched as flowers and fantasy football but still not what the expectations were when signing up or purchasing which lead to spam complaints (which is unsubscring to many consumers unfortunately). you should see the amount of marketers all following down the dark path of putting ten or more lines of whitespace between their last words and can-spam info and unsubscribe. where is the unsubscribe link? oh, I see it there at the top “report spam”

        but I see your point. even if aweber as a whole or some of their sending ips have a bad reputation, individuals should be able to say let them through.

        • says

          It’s easy to whitelist AWeber, you whitelist the domain.

          Gmail only allows you to whitelist the from email address. I does not allow you to whitelist entire domains. If they did then you could whitelist the entire domain and all AWeber emails would get delivered. That is how Gmail can fix this, add domain whitlisting.

          Also there are a few Yahoo secrets that will get you out of the spam folder and back in the Inbox no matter who is sending your email. This works even if you are a spammer. That is one reason I have not made this strategy public, I don’t want spammers to know it.

          There is only one way to get your email delivered.

          Get whitelisted at the ISPs.

          Get on FLBs so that you get you own copy of any spam complaints.

          Use email authentication.

          Build a good long term email reputation.

          Send your email from a dedicated IP address or range of IP addresses.

          Anything else is just going to get you labeled as a spammer by ISPs.

          User whitelisting uses to get you straight to the inbox at all the ISPs, now if you are blocked in any way, have a high bounce rate or get the spam button clicked on you user whiteiisting has little effect.

          Chris Lang

      • says

        I, even though I sell an email delivery infoproduct, tell all my subscribers that you should be using AWeber.

        I have seen the reports, 97% of all outgoing AWeber email is delivered.

        Even if you buy my $69 eBook, follow every strategy, implement everything and move to a dedicated server, you are NOT going to deliver %97 of your email. And you are not no matter who’s product you buy.

        Also a dedicated IP address is going to be blocked for the first 6 months it is in operation because it is a new IP. Hotmail blocks you for 6 and AOL for 3.

        Why would anyone else then worry about sending email any other way?

        WordPress for one thing. It sends emails, if you allow it, following comment threads.

        If a visitor adds a misspelled email address that is real, then you send email to a hot address and you are labeled a spammer by the recipient. This is one of the problems with using Comment Relish.

        If your reader misspells their email address you send spam.

        Refer a friend scripts, IPN notifications and your own email address if you connect to your SMTP out email server on your domain all use your server to send mail.

        As far as user whitelisting goes just use an instruction guide on the landing page whenever a user signs up to anything.

        In fact I give the best one there is away free.

        This will create user whitelist instructions for all the ISPs, mobile devices and most of the popular client side spam filters. This also includes things like Blackberries, SpamCop (used heavily by Microsoft) and more ISPs than previously included.

        Use whitelisting still only goes so far today. Your overall Email Reputation is what matters. What affects it the most? Users clicking the spam button on you, so keep it inbounds.

    • says

      You are completely wrong about AWeber. You CANNOT spam any email address through AWeber because it uses double opt in. And if you are not using double opt in then you have already set yourself up to be labled a spammer.

      How can I send spam through AWeber when I have to have my readers click a double opt in confirmation link?

      Sending untargeted, out of left field offers can get the spam buton clicked on you, but that is not what you are saying.

      You said “sorry, but aweber does not have 100% clean opt in lists. they are known for spammers. being technically compliant with can-spam does not mean people are not sending spam.”

      That has about 4 different issues in it and is so confusing I can’t even go into it here.

      Also I just read your sales letter at the other end of your sig file.

      Maybe if you are going to push buying your $100 product you had better tell them that they will need a dedicated IP address for their mail server before they try to get any email delivered from their site.

      Otherwise you are going to get allot of returns.

      Also since you are using keywords in a DoFollow comment you look like a blog spammer to me.

  9. says

    Good points. I went back to Yahoo! mail when they slapped my pagerank. I prefer Yahoo. Are there Google folders? I could never figure that out.

  10. Invoice Factoring Services says

    I have received google alerts as spam previoulsy but i did not give it a thought. After going through your post i actually think that it is a funny situation. Well for the ads placement part in your gmail onbox, i think its there deliberately, so as to get accidental clicks from users

    • says

      Google alerets going to the spam folder are based on content filtering and the URLs in the alert. It is not Gmail’s delivery issue, it’s the content that they sent.

  11. says

    I have seen the same thing happen to me. I have subscribed to many services from where I would like to recieve emails and sometimes I subscribe to some forum and yet whenever I post some thread and I want to monitor the progress of the thread the emails or alerts keep getting into my junk folder.

    And its not just google, hotmail , yahoo all have the same problem identifying what is junk and what is not. very often then not the good , informative emails go into junk …. These Billion $$$ entities really need to figure out this issue.

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  12. says

    I can say that Gmail is a bit funny sometimes. Especially when I have received an email just fine from a friend for a while and then out of no where it goes to my spam folder. What the heck! You would think that if its gotten through fine before that it should be allowed to continue, but no the case.

  13. says

    I was also very very disappointed w/that… Some mails from advertisers and clients were place in spam folder… the adsense doesn’t have a problem with me though…

  14. says

    I am also experiencing something similar.. some of the mail I labeled to identify from other mail in inbox are getting delivered in to the spam folder.. Occasionally when some one send me an offline chat i was getting it twice.. in same chat window/ chat-mail alert..

  15. says

    So they are moving the Yahoo mail way is it? I am litterally pissed off with my Yahoo inbox as they have only 500 addresses that I can mark as SPAM. Wonder why can’t they provide some behavioral/pattern based SPAM filtering.


  16. says

    Apart from the spam thing – I’ve found it increasingly anoying to accidently click on google adds when I want to click on my email links! They need to figure out a way ASAP to fix that so that the mis-fire clicks don’t keep happening. Unless they’re doing it on purpose to charge more people for these accidental clicks…

    • says


      You are the first person to admit to accidentally clicking on these links as well. I am glad I am not the only one who has done it, though I am sorry for the advertisers.

  17. says

    Andy, you caught a good point here. I have never noticed my spam mails, i generally delete them without even looking at.

  18. says

    I wonder how many people will mark a newsletter as spam when they get tired of receiving it, rather than unsubscribing?Probably a lot more than you might think.

    For some, that spam button serves as a quick unsubscribe button. Or a mass unsubscribe button if you change your mind and decide you don’t want the 20 newsletters you just signed up for.

    It is much easier and faster to get the newsletters out of your inbox in bulk, for good, by selecting them all and hitting the spam button.

    Lazy people don’t want to open each, visit a site, possibly have to enter an email address, in some cases have to remember a username & password…then they can be unsubscribed. It’s just too much thinking & clicking for some people.

    That’s one of the reasons why newsletters that are obviously not spam will end up in spam folders.

    While you are blaming Google, blame the lazy people, too.