mailing list archives
Re: EMAIL != FTP
From: Albert Meyer <albert () waller net>
Date: Fri, 25 May 2001 17:54:27 -0500
At 02:01 PM 5/25/01 -0400, Greg A. Woods wrote:
Let's inject some semi-operational content into this thread.
Number 1: You *want* the idiots who mail large files to go to the
I wish that were true. I don't want 80% of my residential clients to go
away. It's extremely difficult to underestimate the intelligence of the
average residential 1user. How much can you expect from people who start
their business relationship with you by asking "Can you put the Internet on
In a business environment, the idiots don't go away. You do.
Number 2: Do something about it! I regularly configure mail servers to
a maximum of 4MB, and usually to just 100KB. Anyone who "complains" is
told to upload their file to the web server and e-mail the URL. The
complainant usually then says "Heh! Why didn't I think of that?!?!?",
and if your front-line tech support people are really good they won't
laugh back at the customer (at least not while he or she is still on the
That must be nice. Do you provide service to Mensa members? My customer
service people were inundated with angry calls when I tried limiting it to
1MB. It's not cost-effective to pay someone $10+/hour to teach hundreds of
people to use FTP, especially when they aren't interested in learning.
If you make it impossible for them to e-mail large files (except by
breaking them down into a gazzillion little e-mails) then you'll be well
past the gate and all smart people will be stampeeding to use your HTTP
and FTP servers for what they're meant for! (The not-so smart ones will
need to be told once to do that, and if you're lucky the idiots will
immediately switch to your competition and drive them into the ground by
clogging their mail servers *and* their tech support lines.)
It's clearly obvious that emailing large files is evil, but if you're in
the business of providing Internet access to end-users, you must accept the
fact that the vast majority of your clients are computer-illiterate. They
don't know how to FTP, and they don't want to know. If they can't email the
dancing bears to grandma (and 20 other friends) they will switch to the
competition and clog *their* bank account with money. I tried limiting
filesizes to 1MB, then 2MB, etc... At 10MB, the complaints got down to a
manageable level. I found that it makes more sense to throw hardware at the
problem. Hardware is a 1-time cost. Lost clients cost you money every
month, and they will tell their friends that you suck.
When Adlai Stevenson was running for president, one of his advisors said
"We have all of the thinking people on our side." He said "That means that
we are going to lose!" It would be nice to only sell service to non-morons,
but I don't think it would be profitable. If you get a guy who constantly
emails 10M files to 40 people, it makes sense to get rid of him, but you
really do have to cater to 1users if you sell residential Internet service.
In a business environment, you will find that computer literacy is
inversely proportional to seniority. If you do things that make sense
technically, without considering how they will affect idiots who want to
stupid things, you won't last long.