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| k a r a o k e | m i n d | c o n t r o l |
Tuesday, April 12, 2005
No one ever got fired for blogging...
...but when it comes to leaking news of a really cool deal before the actual date scheduled for the announcement of that deal? Well, I'll play it safe and leave that sort of thing to Matt. Oh, yeah -- and Brad. And Fred, too.

So the deal is that we (Return Path) have acquired the Bonded Sender program from IronPort. Matt covered many of the reasons that this is a good thing in his post, so I'll just add a couple of likely FAQs that he didn't touch on.

Q: Hey, aren't many of Return Path's clients companies that send commercial email? And now that I think about it, don't you send commercial email yourselves?

A: That's two questions, but yes. To both of them.

Q: Ummm...followup question here. Doesn't that mean that you'll just "relax" the Bonded Sender requirements for your clients and yourselves?

A: No, for any number of reasons. One good reason is that TrustE is still resonsible for the certification process; we can provide a lot of assistance to clients by helping them understand what they need to do to qualify -- and helping them accomplish those things -- but it's TrustE that makes that final decision.

An even better reason that we won't "relax" any Bonded Sender requirements is that such an approach would be a classic example of what my grandfather used to call "cutting off your nose because you're too stupid to realize that cutting off your nose is a really bad idea."

Bonded Sender is essentially a repuation system, and there are two aspects of reputation involved. One part of it is the bonded senders themselves: by submitting their processes and data to third party evaluation, agreeing to abide by the rules of the program, and putting up that cash bond, senders are saying "I am making a public commitment to behave responsibly, accepting that my reputation is at stake. If I fail to live up to my responsibilities, Bonded Sender will know about it and boot me out of the program."

The second aspect of reputation that comes into play is the reputation of the Bonded Sender program itself. ISPs will only participate if Bonded Sender is providing value for them -- i.e. allowing their users to get the email that they actually want without getting spammed. If Bonded Sender develops a reputation for certifying anybody who shows up at the front door, regardless of how those companies actually behave, ISPs will dump the program without a second thought.

And that scenario would be a bad thing for everyone involved -- particularly those who have invested in the program. So, no, hypothetical questioner...while being a Return Path client will definitely give you the information and tools that you need to make yourself an excellent candidate for Bonded Sender approval, you're SOL if expect to sign up for a couple of RP services and receive a "Get Into Bonded Sender" card free.
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