I am in the process of moving my school to Google Apps, and today was supposed to be the day to flip the switch by directing mail to Gmail rather than the highly frustrating email service we currently use. Unfortunately, that was not to be. Instead I, and the awesome consultant from OunceIT, worked all day to create forwards from that service to the temporary gmail address. Why did it take all day? Well, I am also standardizing the three naming schemes, so there were many users who had to have aliases created in both Google and in the old service, and those aliases had to be forwarded to Gmail as well. Of course while doing this, the interface would require several clicks to get back to the screen that allowed us to make changes. This was an enormous investment of time for something that will be meaningless in about a week.
On the positive side, the mail transfer started with only one small hiccup.
Years ago, I signed up for Yahoo Plus (or whatever that service was called), and I am still paying for it. This service allowed me, among other things, to create disposable addresses using a base-hyphen-identifier naming system. Since that time, I have also set up a secondary Gmail account and have used their base-plus-indentifier naming system.
Yahoo’s was an early system. I had to go into their admin panel and set up each unique junk email before the account would accept it. Google’s is much more user friendly on that account, accepting any email with the correct base. On the other hand, many websites prohibit the plus sign in emails, so the Gmail disposable feature is useless on about 30% of sites I have tried. This has led me to keeping the Yahoo account and paying a nominal fee annually. That and just the sheer work of moving emails from accounts over to another system.
Recently, however, I have run into a situation several times that makes me rethink my whole strategy of using disposable addresses. While it is useful to have that unique identifier to block when it gets too much spam, this is not really an issue anymore. Both Gmail and Yahoo mail do a pretty good job of spam detection, and it is easy enough to mark as spam a particular sender whose unsubscribe does not work. However, having signed up for a service under one disposable name and then having to access it or send from that particular email can be problematic. I got snarled up with a magazine subscription and Zinio not talking to each other. I think this is a flaw on Zinio’s part not being able to accept subscriptions to an account that come from other email addresses, but they and many other services have this issue. In addition, I was unable to send from my disposable account from my iPad because I could not add the “+identifier” easily to the email sender address. This caused problems.
I will probably move toward just using a generic email address, separate from my personal one, for signups, subscriptions, and the such. The unique identifier may be a relic from the past and a feature that current apps and sites are not designed to handle well.