atechdad make it so

I Sent 281,317 Users Their Passwords

I did it again.

So- hey again. Several weeks ago, I wrote about emailing over 97,000 people their own passwords and documented the results. The post was pretty popular. I got lots of feedback from HN, Reddit, via email, and through comments. People were mostly positive and many had very good suggestions. So- I took some of the feedback from folks and did a second experiment.


  • Got banned from Mandrilla
  • Got prebanned from SendGrid
  • Rolled a mail server
  • Cleaned up password lists
  • Rebuilt Email Templates
  • Sent 281,317 emails
  • Received $82 in donations


I realized that in order to make this more successful I would need to make some changes. I am relatively new to the mass email arena, so I tried to  partner with some known vendors.

I chose Mandrilla. Using their site, I found it very easy to convert my message into one that appeared much more professional and trustworthy. I have to admin, their interface is slick. So I began with a test run and queued up around two thousand emails. I decided to try and track open rates to see if messages were successful.  I kept an eye on the GUI all day.

About 900 emails got out before I was banned.  I couldn’t log in or recover any data - nothing. After discussing with their technical support teams,  there was nothing they could do.

I then called Sendgrid– wanting to see if I could partner with them before I went through all the work of setting things up again. I just got a no.

So I ended up rolling my own mail server.  I cleaned up my email template. I tested and retested the spamminess of my message. I asked my wife for her opinion. I cleaned up the password lists.

So here are the numbers:

  • Thanks: 68 (+59) or .02%
  • Unsubscribes: 29 (-12) or .01%
    • Requests when opting out: 4 (+3) or .001%
      • stop sending spam
      • F**K OFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
      • f**k off slime bag - do your best to hack me and i’ll find you and let my pet camel f**k you in the *ss.
      • F**k off scammer
  • Opens: 3,478+ (This one is difficult to measure due to image blocking and other tracking blocks)
  • Donations: $82 (+$82)

Next Steps

I’m not sure. If I’m going to turn this into a service I will need to better optimize delivery and take care of some back office type stuff. If I do this, all of the donations will be reinvested back into the service.

I still consider this effort successful. I look forward to helping more people.

Project Location

For those that are curious, the project itself is located here.