Infopackets Email Newsletter Format

Dennis Faas's picture

It's been two weeks since the newsletter format has been changed to include "teaser" feature articles and a link to the rest of the story online.

Over the weekend, I received a few disheartening emails with regard to the format change. Gan Soon B. in South East Asia writes:

" Dear Dennis,

I am writing to you to register my concern with the new format of your newsletter. Recently, I noticed that you have switched to a format which require users to go online to view the full contents of the newsletter. I figured that you have a valid concern for using that format, and so I didn't really mind. But now, I am faced with the problem with having to use dial-up Internet access to view your newsletter online [for which there is a per-minute charge to use the phone line, plus the cost of Internet access].

I was wondering: is it possible to offer 2 versions of the newsletter? One would contain all the meat and potatoes, while the other version is lean? I have subscribed to this newsletter for [a few] years, and I really love the tips that you dish out, and the feeling of community that you instill in each issue of the newsletter!

However, I have also read that you are facing some financial problems maintaining the web site [and that continuing to send the newsletter out in full length would add further strain]. I really wish I could help you out myself, but I am having trouble even supporting my dial-up connection, and I am truly sorry that I can't help you out. But I wish you all the best ... and sincerely hope that you pass these trying times. "

And, Robin R. comments:

" I thought you might want to know why I just unsubscribed from your newsletter. The advantage to having your newsletter in full via email is that I can read it offline without the need to be connected to the Internet. I download all my emails to my laptop and read it without an Internet connection, and therefore, the links to read the full article online will not work in my situation. "

Infopackets Reader Joel L. writes:

" There are no problems for me to click on the link to view it online. However, it's just easier to have the newsletter in full when I open my mail rather than having to go online the infopackets web site to view the rest of it online. Plus, I prefer the way the full newsletter looks and, substantively, there's more there for me to decide what I want to read. So, basically, it's all about convenience and preference for me.

It is also worth mentioning that some of readers may have Pop Up Stoppers / link blockers installed on their system ... plus there is a common link malfunction in Outlook Express which prevents users from clicking on email links. Any of these issues may prevent readers from reading the newsletter online. "

Carole M. from Israel explains:

" I much preferred getting the whole infopackets newsletter with the entire articles appearing in my email. I wish that you would continue to send your infopackets in their entirety to my email address. Although the HTML [version of the newsletter was] attractive, I would be just as happy to have the whole shebang sent in plain text.

Unfortunately, I am unemployed and in a disastrous financial situation, and would not be able to afford to subscribe to a paid version of your newsletter which would allow me to receive it in its entirety via email. I do not like getting an intro to an article and having to click online to read the article in my browser, but will probably scan your emails, and, if an article seems to be especially interesting, I will probably click on the link. "

Steve F. said:

" I can no longer read your newsletter each morning from work. Our company has a firewall which prevents us from accessing any web site outside of our LAN [Local Area Network]. "

And, Jee P. writes:

" I fully support a decision to have a free and a paid version of your newsletter. You certainly deserve some compensation for the time and effort to help us out. If I wasn't living on Social Security (SS), I would definitely subscribe to both versions, but folks like me cannot afford the justifiable costs of using Internet even as it comes closer to being a necessity. "

My Response:

There are a number of valid points made by Readers as to why the newsletter should be sent in full. On the other hand, other users have pointed out that receiving the entire newsletter is purely a matter of preference and convenience.

As I have already discussed, it is no longer efficient or financially feasible to send the newsletter in full length. Currently, there are over 138,000 Readers of this newsletter, and 850+ new Readers join each day. To send the newsletter in full length not only drains web server resource, it also demands excessive bandwidth (which costs money).

The suggestion of sending out two types of newsletters: "... one containing all the meat and potatoes, while the other version is lean" is plausible. However, it would be too difficult to discriminate who gets to receive the newsletter in full, and who does not. I have a hard enough time keeping up with the emails I receive on a daily basis and certainly don't have the time or resource to pick and choose among 138,000 possible applicants.

What to do?

It is very disappointing to see users like Robin L. who have unsubscribed because they no longer receive the email newsletter in full. I knew something like that might happen once the format changed, but the fact that I received a number of complaints over the past weekend really shook me up.

The only way I can imagine sending out the newsletter in full (again) would be to pay for another dedicated web server and have the newsletter send from two separate locations. This would cut the delivery time in half, alleviate web server congestion, and double the amount of allowed bandwidth. The problem is that I simply cannot afford to go this route and have a hard enough time paying for the dedicated web server which is paid for on a month-to-month basis.

Last week's Good Will Fund Raiser helped to alleviate some of the financial burden I am currently facing, but is certainly not enough to support the cost of 2 dedicated web servers.

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