inessential by Brent Simmons

Challenge/response email is evil

I detest challenge/response email.

Last week a journalist sent me some interview questions. I answered them later that day.

Then today I got an email me asking me if I would have time to answer the questions, since the article is nearly due.

Clearly my reply didn’t get to the journalist. I was wondering why, and then I noticed his email address and went to the website. It’s one of those spam-blocking systems that uses challenge and response.

I don’t remember seeing a challenge. But I might have seen it and thought it was spam—or my spam-filter might have thought it was spam.

The upshot is that I get way too much email to deal with challenges to a reply to an email conversation that someone else initiated. I can understand a challenge if I’m emailing someone out-of-the-blue, but not if I’m replying to an email.

So I replied again, pasted in my answers, and crossed my fingers that he’ll get my email. I’m watching my trash for a challenge from his email system. This is stupid.

So if you see an article about Atom and RSS and it says something like “NetNewsWire author Brent Simmons could not be reached for comment”—then you know why.