Have you heard about “domain shame”? Do you, perhaps, even suffer from domain shame? Or maybe you are one of the legion of users who identify those who should suffer from domain shame?
The term “domain shame”, recently coined by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Don Fernandez, refers to how you feel about and how others perceive that bit to the right of the “@” symbol in your email address.
For example, according to Fernandez, if your email address is at yahoo.com, people are as likely to think that email from you is spam, or even porn, as not. “When I said I was on Yahoo, people would not respond because just the name meant it was unsafe and too commercial” Fernandez qoutes one user as saying.
Said another “When I see a Yahoo or Hotmail domain I think not only cheap, but also disposable and possibly porno, because of the anonymity of those domains.”
Security experts seem to agree. Dmitri Alperovitch of Internet security firm CipherTrust explained that “Spammers know that a great deal of mail comes from Hotmail or Yahoo, and they intentionally `spoof’ those domains.”
Now, mind you, Yahoo isn’t the only one whose users suffer from domain shame. Also high on the list were Hotmail and AOL. In fact, Fernandez quotes one executive as saying that “I’ll never hire someone with an AOL.com address. It screams that you’re at a very basic stage.”
Wow. The sad thing is that it’s true – people do look at various email domains and associate certain qualities (or lack thereof) with the people who send email from them.
Of course, the people behind those domains associated with domain shame disagree.
AOL spokesperson Nicholas Graham, for example, countered that “There’s an immense amount of integrity and trust associated with the AOL.com name. Given the amount we’ve invested in products and services (spam filters and virus protection), the AOL.com domain name is trusted as much for professional and personal use.”
And Yahoo’s Karen Mahon explained that “I think Yahoo Mail has universal appeal Our users run the gamut from beginning users to business users.”
Not all domains suffer from domain shame, mind you. Email from a Gmail account, for example, is seen as indicative of someone who is online a lot, and probably a fairly savvy user.
Of course, none of these broad brushstrokes is fair; not everyone using a given email service, free or otherwise, is a dunce, or a whiz. Still, the stereotyping goes on, and domain shame is real, and, well, is it always all that inaccurate?
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