Email delivery times are a bit like the tires on your car. You usually only think about them when something goes wrong.
I say this because I’m guessing most folks may not have noticed anything about a change in the delivery speed of email sent through Yahoo! Groups. But thanks to the hard work of the back-end engineers and the Operations team, there has indeed been a change — a positive one! The chart below, which tracks the delivery time of a sample email we send every minute to test the system, tells the story:
As it shows, over the most recent week, the delivery time of mail sent through the Groups system has dropped dramatically, with more than 95 percent of messages being routed in under 20 seconds and with most messages being delivered in under 10 seconds. Given that Yahoo! Groups delivers more than 500 million messages each day, this is no small feat!
Yahoo! Groups Emails and ISPs
Now I’m guessing that some of you might be skeptical because you might still be experiencing delays on emails sent through Groups. On a high level, assuming the problem isn’t simply a moderator taking his or her time before approving messages, there are two possible explanations:
1. There might be a problem on our side
Though the system has been dramatically improved, it’s still not perfect. Servers go down (we maintain hundreds), new systems can be improperly configured, spam and virus attacks can cause dramatic spikes in the number of messages coming through the system. No matter how hard we try or how many safeguards we build into the system, there will be times when messages will be delayed on our end. We don’t want to pretend that this will never be the case, though we are working hard to minimize those occasions.
2. There might be a problem with your ISP or email program
Unfortunately, there are also limits to what the Yahoo! Groups team can do. When you send an email it goes from
SENDER EMAIL PROGRAM >> YOUR ISP >> YAHOO! GROUPS >> RECIPIENT ISP >> RECIPIENT EMAIL PROGRAM
As a team, Yahoo! Groups controls only the experience in the middle. Ultimately, we rely on your ISP and email program to deliver the email in a timely fashion.
What to Do When You’re Experiencing Delays
So a question is probably running through your minds: Which do I contact when I’m experiencing delays — my ISP/mail provider or Yahoo! Groups?
The Good News: There is a way to tell. By looking at the full email headers of a message that has been delayed, you can frequently tell whether the delay was caused by your ISP or Yahoo! Groups. If the problem lies with us, let us know. Please send a copy of the headers with your complaint.
If the problem lies with your ISP, please contact that company. You’ll definitely get them to take you more seriously if you include the full headers of your delayed message. And you can also refer them to this group (http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/ygmailadmin/), which is specifically for ISP administrators who want to work better with Yahoo! Groups.
The Bad News: As you’ll see when you check out the links for how to read a message header, it’s not that easy for someone who is not technically inclined. In fact, none of the pages I’ve seen are so simple and clear that I feel comfortable referring most Groups users to them. But it would be really helpful if such a page existed.
So an idea occurred to us. We know there are tons of users on the message boards and in the group about Groups, who have the technical expertise, the knowledge about how Groups users think, and the willingness to help others make a great page.
So we want to challenge you to create the best possible “How to Read a Groups Email Header” page. If you accept this challenge, post a link to your page in the comments below. Then we’ll choose the best one, feature you and the page in a blog entry (and in Help), and send you a package of Yahoo! schwag as a thank-you.
We’re looking forward to seeing what you come up with. And in the mean time, thanks again to the Yahoo! Groups Back End and Operations team for their work on improving delivery times!
- Gordon Strause