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I’ve been trying to set up an anonymous website so I can blog my thoughts on some controversial topics without them being traced back to me. I found a post on here that perfectly fit my situation: How hard is to be the anonymous owner of a website?

Unfortunately, using wordpress.com, tumblr.com, or wix.com isn’t an option like was suggested in the question above, since it doesn’t give me the control I desire. I wanted to be able to run PHP and JavaScript, and have a fully customized design.

So I tried some free web hosting services like 000webhost.com and 5gbfree.com. These were perfect - I was able to do all the things I wanted and had my website all up and running.

One of the things I am planning on doing is starting an email subscription. So I set up a free MailChimp account and started testing an email design. Unfortunately, that’s when I discovered that emails containing a link to my website on subdomains of these web hosts were marked as spam.

So now I’m looking for a solution that provides the full control offered to me by free web hosting services such as 000webhost.com AND the ability to send emails linking to the website without them getting marked as spam.

So what I am asking is: Is my only option to pay for some web space and buy a domain name? Or can I somehow send email with links to an anonymous website without them being filtered as spam?

  • I've read on here on cnn.com that some people set up Tor services to serve web pages anonymously. – Russell Hankins Mar 10 '16 at 5:12
  • @Art18 I edited this quite a bit so that it wouldn't be considered a duplicate of the question you referenced above (which the last set of questions would have resulted in). It may not be the links to the free subdomains by themselves, but the content of the emails (i.e., they shouldn't be primarily links), the from address, and other factors as well. There are possibly more configuration options you can do with MailChimp to help get your email through too - see these related questions. – dan Mar 10 '16 at 6:27
  • @dan Thank you for helping me with my first post! I wouldn't want it marked as a duplicate. I am fairly confident that it is the link that is marking it as SPAM (although still open to investigating further), because when I send the exact same email but replace the link with a link to a reputable site, it gets through to my inbox not marked as SPAM. I have some basic experience with e-marketing and I believe the rest of the content and the design of the email is good and shouldn't set of any SPAM filters. Minimal images, minimal links, suitable length, simple subject line. Thanks, Josh. – Art18 Mar 10 '16 at 9:39
  • @Art18 That would seem to imply the entire 000webhost.com domain is being filtered, which seems pretty excessive...but I'm not sure what mail server/provider you're referring to. Perhaps using more options for MailChimp might raise the threshold so it doesn't get flagged as spam. – dan Mar 10 '16 at 9:54
  • Thanks @dan. I've done some more digging and it appears that it was the combination of that link with some other buzzwords. The main offender being 'password'. I had put password protection on my page as an extreme way of stopping it from being crawled by search engines. Removing either the word 'password', that link or one of a few other buzzwords solves the problem. My apologies, I came to this forum looking for a solution to a problem - but it turns out I had incorrectly identified the problem. Should I select this answer as the correct answer? Or should I delete the post? – Art18 Mar 10 '16 at 16:07
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You should check the header of the email, to see why it is classified as spam. While it could be that the link to a specific website contributes to the spam-classification, there should be other factors involved.

https://mediatemple.net/community/products/dv/204643950/understanding-an-email-header

This is the spam-related part of an email I got:

X-Spam-Checker-Version: SpamAssassin 3.4.0 (2014-02-07) on example.org
X-Spam-Flag: YES
X-Spam-Level: *****************************
X-Spam-Status: Yes, score=29.2 required=5.0 tests=BAYES_99,BAYES_999,
BODY_URI_ONLY,DSN_NO_MIMEVERSION,FSL_HELO_BARE_IP_2,MISSING_MID,
RCVD_IN_BL_SPAMCOP_NET,RCVD_IN_BRBL_LASTEXT,RCVD_IN_MSPIKE_BL,
RCVD_IN_MSPIKE_L5,RCVD_IN_PBL,RCVD_IN_XBL,RCVD_NUMERIC_HELO,RDNS_NONE,
TVD_RCVD_IP,TVD_RCVD_IP4,URIBL_BLACK,URIBL_DBL_SPAM,URIBL_JP_SURBL,URIBL_SBL,
URIBL_SBL_A,URIBL_WS_SURBL autolearn=spam autolearn_force=no version=3.4.0

You see that there is for example a check called BODY_URI_ONLY. So I you only send the link to you website in an email, this might classify as spam.

However it might be that the hosting service you chose has a bad reputation (URIBL_BLACK) and simple adding a link to the website will be enough to classify as spam.

It is realy difficult to tell why an email is classified as spam without knowing:

  • where it came form
  • what was the content
  • how many people got it
  • ...
  • Hi Pit, thanks for your suggestion. I have checked the headers, but there were no references to SPAM. I am using GMail. What client are you using? I tried sending the exact same email again but replaced the link with a link to a reputable site instead and it didn't get marked as SPAM. For that reason I am fairly confident it is the link that's marking it as SPAM. – Art18 Mar 10 '16 at 9:31
  • I used Thunderbird (View -> Headers -> All). You could try this to see the header information in Gmail: support.google.com/groups/answer/75960?hl=en. But I agree that when it seems to bee the link itself that is problematic. You could try using a link shortener e.g bitly.com? – Pit Mar 10 '16 at 9:40
  • Thanks for the link, although viewing the headers was not my problem. I checked the headers and there didn't seem to be any there that offered any insight into why the email had been marked as SPAM. I guess asking which email client you were using might have been the wrong question, perhaps I should have asked which email service you are using? Since (I'm pretty sure) it is the service provider that would mark it as spam or otherwise and not the client. I had not thought of using a shortener. I will give it a go, but I'm not confident it will work. Thanks. – Art18 Mar 10 '16 at 9:51
  • UPDATE: Whilst removing the link did stop the email getting marked as SPAM, it was not the sole reason for it getting marked as SPAM. The combination of several buzzwords were big factors in the email getting marked as SPAM. Thanks for your help @Pit and everyone else - I have learnt a lot :) – Art18 Mar 11 '16 at 22:36

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