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If you would like to write to this site, but you are using AOL for your e-mail, please be aware of an embarrassing problem associated with AOL. Here's how it works:

AOL have a clever system where you can only receive messages from "your friends". This seems at first quite a good idea as you don't want to receive loads of junkmail and spam. AOL's anti-spam system doesn't stop spam, although it reduces it a bit. The problem is, if you write to this site, to an address at the e-mail page, then you are writing to the INCOMING MAIL at this site. When the OUTGOING mail tries to reply to you, AOL will assume it's spam and reject it. As a result of this, many honest people have written messages to this site and are probably wondering now why they've not got a response. Well, blame AOL for it! They've censored your e-mail!

If you applied this to the physical world and wrote a letter to me, and posted it into a mailbox, you'd be waiting weeks later next to the mailbox wondering why no letter came out of it as a reply to you. Instead, you should of course expect the reply to be delivered by the postman to your home. Physical mail (p-mail) has traditionally had different send and receive boxes. Many postboxes are receive-only.

There is a solution to this AOL e-mail problem: Simply include in your friends list mail FROM operator#zyra,org,uk (replace "#" with "@" and "," with "."), and then mention this in your message. (or you could just write to that address to get it automatically included). We're pleased to hear from you, so please DO write in.

Meanwhile, for anyone who's written in from an AOL account and wonders why we've apparently been so rude as to not reply to you, please check your settings and understand that it's a problem with AOL, not a problem with what's going on here.

As well as being a poor deal having written here and not got a reply, it's even worse here, as the chances are that a well-written reply has been carefully crafted and all to no avail as it's been wasted and can not be sent.

Some people have even subscribed to some of the Lists here and received any of the newsletters that they've requested. Again, same problem.

Note: Most AOL e-mail doesn't have this problem. It's all to do with how you've got your "personal e-mail settings" set. If you're worried about whether you have this problem, you can find out either by checking your system, or by writing to AOL, or by writing an AOL test message to the e-mail page and seeing if you get a reply. If you don't get a reply within a week, it's quite likely a problem.

If you have this AOL problem, then even though it's true you'll be getting less junkmail, you'll also be missing out on all kinds of stuff which you want. And, you'll have prevented people from replying to questions you've asked. (Applies for people with different send and receive addresses).

For the time being we're still accepting e-mail from AOL users, although it has been suggested that all AOL e-mail be rejected as "unworkable". But please make sure that if you write in, you have allowed replies! Also, please be aware that AOL is not the friendliest ISP when it comes to future progression away from the bad old ways of Microsoft and the move to Linux. There are other ISPs available, so it's best to shop around. I recommend having more than one ISP so you can avoid various bad practices which some of them have. No-one's perfect, but it's possible to avoid the worst problems by having a wider choice.

You can avoid the AOL e-mail problem and also the AOL Hometown problem at the same time by having a proper hosting, for example with Vivostar, and also have email addresses that you control