Like many other people, I am not a fan of challenge/response filters.  If I ever get an email that I send to someone and receive back a challenge to take some action (click a link, hit reply with the subject) to add myself to their whitelist to communicate with them, I never do.  Ever.  Why is it my job to filter your mail?  What’s wrong with your own filter to figure this out on your own time?  I’m not providing free labor here.

But this attitude can pose problems.

The other day I emailed someone that I really needed to communicate with.  I had to send her some sheet music for an upcoming event.  Unfortunately, I sent her the mail and then received back the Challenge email – Your email requires verification Verify #123456789.  This put me into a rather uncomfortable dilemma:

  • Do I stick to my principles of never responding back to challenges in silent show of defiance against her filter?
  • Or do I hold my nose, verify the challenge and communicate with this person?

It’s a tough call.  Ordinarily, the communication wouldn’t be critical.  But this one was important!  But yet here was this insurmountable obstacle (that was easily surmounted) if all I did was hit Reply.  A war went off in my head.  The cost to me was betraying my principles but the gain was getting this important piece of information over to them.  I did the only thing I could do.

I replied to the challenge.

Yuck, I feel so icky by doing this.  But what other choice did I have?  I don’t feel good about this but pragmatism forced my hand.

Too bad we just couldn’t communicate by Facebook.