I just read an article about a new service called DidTheyReadIt. In a nutshell, this service places a small Web bug in HTML formatted e-mails that acts as a tracking device. When the e-mail recipient reads the e-mail a script on the DidTheyReadIt site logs the action. It will even log how long it took to read the e-mail message. Based on logged information the e-mail sender can know if you read the e-mail or not. Fortunately this service only works with e-mail readers that support HTML formatted e-mails, which is something I have never liked. Unfortunately most people view e-mail message as HTML.
HTML e-mails look nice but too much can happen behind the scenes that the message reader does not know about such as tracking when the e-mail message was read. I use Eudora as my preferred e-mail reader. It allows me to turn off viewing e-mail as HTML. I can still see the e-mail and read it, but it is not rendered as HTML. This means the e-mail message might not look as nice but it also means there is no unknown activity happening behinds the scenes when I read the e-mail. And I still have the option for view the message as HTML if I like.
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