Help Ensure Our Email Messages Get To You

Earlier this year we had some issues with email messages apparently not arriving in the recipient’s inbox. This is very frustrating for all concerned, as it turns out that there is no way for the sender of an email to know for sure whether their message was received. Yes, we could – and often do – include a ‘request return receipt’ with our messages, but even if everyone acknowledged these it still only tells us if the person DID get the email message, not if they didn’t. And most people don’t acknowledge the ‘request receipt’ anyway.

A further frustration was that we were not getting a bounce-back or ‘your message could not be delivered’ response, which should happen if the destination mail server blocks a message for some reason. What seemed to be happening is that our messages were being filtered between the destination mail server and the addressee’s inbox. Overly aggressive junk mail filters, at the level of the mail server (not your own email client), could be filtering legitimate messages, including from ourselves. In most cases the recipient won’t even know about the filtering.

What to do.
So, what can be done to help ensure our messages get to you?

  1. Check your regular junk folder in your email client
  2. If messages from Achill Archaeological Field School are there, mark them as ‘not junk’ and
  3. Make use of any options such as ‘add this email address to your address book’ or to a ‘safe list’ or ‘whitelist’ (terms may vary depending on each email client).
    If you always use a ‘webmail’ service (where you login to a particular website to check your email) this may be all you need to do.

For users with desktop email clients (eg. Outlook, Outlook Express, Windows Mail, Mac Mail, Thunderbird, etc) the filtered messages may not even be in the junk folder of that client. Before it reaches the email client on your PC, Mac or other devices, your mail is received and routed by a mail server. Typically this is hosted by your ISP (Internet Service Provider) or for students with a .edu email address it may be your university or college that hosts it. Sometimes these mail servers have strict, or over-strict, filters to try to prevent spam email. And these over-strict filters can trap legitimate mail too, such as our messages from email accounts. If our messages are caught by these filters, you may never even know. But there is usually a way to access the junk folder of your email account on the mail server:

Use Webmail to Find Missing Email Messages
Even though you typically get your email through your desktop email client, usually it is also possible to access it through webmail. The webmail interface should give you access to your mail server’s junk folder for your email account. It may even allow you to reset the strictness of the spam filters for your account. If you do not know whether you have webmail, get in touch with your ISP or email host and ask. Or, follow these helpful instructions courtesy of the

  • If you don’t know the webpage to log-in, start with the home page of your email company (or ISP)
  • From that page you will almost certainly find a link to “webmail”, or “check my email” or something similar.
  • You will need to know your login (usually your email address) and your password. Your password may be hard to find if you use a desktop program exclusively, as the software usually remembers the password for you so you probably don’t need to remember it on a day-to-day basis. If you really can’t find it you may need to call your ISPs “help” desk.
  • Once you are “in”, you should check the junk mail folder that will probably be there.Again, if you find our email there, mark it as “not junk” and “add the email address to your address book, or “safe” list”. (Who knows, maybe you’ll find other legit email at the same time that you can rescue).
  • At this time, I would suggest checking the “security” settings, or the “junk mail” settings – I set mine to only catch the most obvious junk mail.