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[OCLUG-Tech] how does current email protocol support mail receipt verification?

  • Subject: [OCLUG-Tech] how does current email protocol support mail receipt verification?
  • From: "Robert P. J. Day" <rpjday [ at ] crashcourse [ dot ] ca>
  • Date: Fri, 6 Jan 2012 19:26:51 -0500 (EST)
  lunching with some friends today, and got into an interesting debate
with someone who was a lawyer and someone who was a marketing person.

  we started talking about sending out email, and whether it was
technically possible to "verify" whether an e-mail was received and/or

  the marketing lady was adamant that the way she sent out e-mail was
to include a URL in the email, so that when the reader clicked on the
URL for more information, that represented a verification that that
person *must* have received and read the email.

  well, sure, but what if they don't click on the link, i asked?  the
person could very well have received and read the email, then decided
to not go any further.  so that didn't really prove anything.

  the lawyer took it one step further, asking whether there was a way
to absolutely *guarantee* that someone you emailed had read that
email.  i'm not a mail protocol expert but i thought about it briefly,
then said i didn't think so, and used my mail setup as an example.

  people can email me, and i'm fairly sure you can ask for receipt
confirmation up to a point.  but the final step in my getting email
involves my doing a manual "fetchmail" to get mail from my mail

  once i do that, the email is on *my* local machine, and i don't see
how anyone can guarantee to know if i've read that email or not.  once
i fetch the email, i open up "alpine", at which point i can see all
the subject headers.  and at that point, i'm quite free to ruthlessly
delete mail messages based simply on their subject lines, without ever
reading those emails.

  i don't see any way, once the email is on my system, that the sender
can possibly know whether i read that email.  the best i can see is
that they *might* be able to confirm that i downloaded it.  but i
don't see any way to confirm anything beyond that.




Robert P. J. Day                                 Ottawa, Ontario, CANADA

Twitter:                                       http://twitter.com/rpjday
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