Do You Suffer from Email Domain Shame? Many AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo and Other Users Do

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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13 Replies to “Do You Suffer from Email Domain Shame? Many AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo and Other Users Do”

  1. I keep AOL because of it’s ease of operation though it’s slower than mud! Hotmail is a disaster! Yahoo winds up being the most usable of the trio and seems to have no more spam than AOL. I’ve been on line for over 2 decades and still find these as stated. How about some that ARE much better?

  2. If you’re having trouble finding a good username, Hotmail recently enabled dots so there’s a good chance you firstname.lastname@hotmail.com is available. When you sign up, just ignore the instructions about only using “_” and use a period wherever u want.

  3. I’ve lost count of the various email accounts I’ve tried over the years, but my main online webmail account is still Yahoo (.co.uk) which I’ve had for a number of years. Last year I signed up for their ‘paid-for’ service for 20 bucks (or 12 quid!) and so no tag-lines, ads, etc. Mind you, now they’ve upped the free service to 1GB, I may just go back to free. It’s integration with Outlook is my other main reason for sticking with YahooMail. (I think my Lycos account does this too).

    And yes, I do have a Gmail account; plus a bunch of my own domain names (both personal and business) used in conjunction with my main accounts.

    If you want free Yahoo without ads and 125mb storage, try MyWay.

  4. Utterly absurd to discriminate against a job applicant based on an email address. My 20+ year career in I.T. doesn’t preclude my use of free and convenient email accounts such as Yahoo!. I’ve had a Yahoo! account for many years, it was free, it was convenient, and I could access it no matter where I was, and I used to travel a lot. Yahoo got far less spam than similar accounts I had on the old Excite and a few others that have gone by the wayside over the years. I have no less than a dozen active email accounts because I do post to a lot of tech support-type newsgroups and boards. Its fairly easy to figure out where some spammer harvested my email addy from.

    While I do get a lot more spam thru Yahoo than I used to, its no more than the crap that makes its way through to my ISP-provided email. AOL, unfortunately, deserves the ‘low tech’ reputation that it has, but lets face it, there are more people with PC’s who get on-line than there are IT geeks like myself – and the majority of them fall into the AOL trap. For the technically clueless, AOL is all they need, although I’ve steered many family memebers AWAY from that provider for good reason. I also steer people away from Hotmail.. one of THE most-hacked email systems out there.

    Not everyone can be a techie… but discrimination based on an email address ?? What is this world coming to ?

  5. “Thanks for the pointers. Still, any chance you could make the ref URLs visible somewhere on the site itself? I frequently want to paste an URL into something like an email message or an IRC window and it’s Just Really Inconvenient to have URLs which are significantly longer than one typical physical line in one typical window on a typical desktop (by an atypical user who doesn’t maximize all the 38 windows I currently have open).”

    Dear Aq, the /ref URLs for the top 5 stories each week are embedded as part of Aunty’s free newsletter. The /ref URLs for all stories each week are embedded in the premium edition of the paper, which is only $5.00/month. However, for you, dear Aq, Aunty now has a link to make a TinyURL at the end of each story. Enjoy! Kissy kissy, Aunty Spam

  6. Thanks for the pointers. Still, any chance you could make the ref URLs visible somewhere on the site itself?

    I frequently want to paste an URL into something like an email message or an IRC window and it’s Just Really Inconvenient to have URLs which are significantly longer than one typical physical line in one typical window on a typical desktop (by an atypical user who doesn’t maximize all the 38 windows I currently have open).

  7. “So where do I find out what the user-friendly ref/ URL for a story is? What other Aunty Spam resources than RSS feeds and the site itself should I be using?”

    Dear Aqpatoq,

    Aunty is a bit confused, as if you are reading Aunty’s Net Patrol via RSS, or on the site, the length of the “meaningful URLs” shouldn’t be an issue, one wouldn’t think. Sites which carry some of Aunty Spam’s Net Patrol, such as Lockergnome, and Aunty’s newsletter, use the user-friendly ref/URLs because they end up being delivered by email, which is typically where a long URL will break.

    Kissy kissy,

    Aunty Spam

  8. So where do I find out what the user-friendly ref/ URL for a story is? What other Aunty Spam resources than RSS feeds and the site itself should I be using?

  9. I’ve been a senior project engineer for a number of years. I’ve had the last word on a number of new hires and I don’t recall ever giving any particular notice to what email domain an applicant may be using (or even, sharing). I might notice if Jane Doe was listing janedoe@microsoft.com and made no notice of Microsoft on her precis, otherwise the questioning during an interview should be much more specifically focused on actual experience rather than some anecdotal general observation(often wrong) of the skill level of the user based on their email domain.

    I keep (and use) an AOL account -but I have and use five others – and whenever an associate sneers, my response is usually “You ignore AOL at your peril. I must watch AOL like a hawk.” Almost always, I get a sad shrug of agreement.

    Also, my worry – paranoia really – is finding “Damn! I really needed that!” in the “Spam” folder rather than “Truly desperate housewives!” in the “Inbox.”

  10. Very interesting that GMail accounts are seen as a sign of someone who is ‘savvy’. I’ve just had my first spam from a Gmail account. Of course it was sent to my own GMail account, perhaps that’s the trick. I’ve got a sought-after @gmail.com address, so surely any email from a similar address must be from a frightfuly good chap, don’t y’know.

  11. Yahoo mail is one of the few that can be accessed via WAP, so it’s highly useful. And you can forward your mail from your domain name mail TO Yahoo mail, and it doesn’t even break the spam filtering. I guess the trick is not SENDING from a yahoo address.

  12. My email blacklist reads like a “Who’s Who” of free and commercial internet providers. Yahoo!, Hotmail, and AOL domains are among the first to be added to any blacklist I set up. So much spam comes in that either looks like it comes from one of these providers or uses accounts from these providers as dropboxes, if my filter detects these messages and they are not from previously whitelisted accounts they are history.

    As to the ‘Good Name’ AOL has, many years ago when most internet accounts came from governments, big businesses, or universities, the joke was “AOL – A..holes On Line, where any idiot could get an account and many did”. Inexperienced users, or users intentionally making disposable accounts just to harass and annoy, that’s what the typical AOL user was.

    I also know of people negatively impacted because of ‘unprofessional’ email accounts, one in particular told outright that her resume was rejected because of the email account listed.

  13. Actually anyone coming in from anywhere other than the site itself or an RSS feed is almost certainly coming in on the already user-friendlfied “https://www.theinternetpatrol.com/ref/domain-shame”.

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