When your ESP embarrasses you

If you’re on my mailing list, you probably noticed that you have been receiving
duplicates of my newsletter.

My bad, many apologies for that.

Unsure why, MailChimp, my ESP (email service provider) started double sending
posts from my RSS feed this week.

Fortunately, they only cost me 3 subscribers.

This week actually marks a change on my end in regard to when I’m going to be
doing my writing and which days I’m going to be releasing posts.

For the last few years, my workflow has been to knock out and post new content
on Sundays. Monday morning, MailChimp would pick up the post from my RSS feed
and send it to my subscribers.

MailChimp remained setup to check for new posts every single day for those off
weeks that I get a bug up my ass and decide to write and publish on a whim.

I had left the daily check in place, but this week started my new release
schedule of Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

I wanted to marry up the publish date of the posts and when the newsletter was
sent so I started to post date my posts instead of using the date that I had
actually wrote it.

Just wanted to add a bit more structure to things.

Monday came around, and everything was fine with my post-dated article. Then
Tuesday came around and well, the same damn article was shipped out to my

I’ve experienced some weird flukes in the past with MailChimp, specifically with
some articles not sending on the day I’d expect them to. Typically they would
just magically send the next day, NBD.

Having experienced these flukes in the past, I figured that’s all it was and
proceeded to drop another post in for Wednesday. Email sent, all is good.

Then the same exact post was shipped out on Thursday, thus upgrading my issue
from an anomaly to something that’s reproducible.

As a free user with MailChimp (sorry guys, still hustlin’ to get there) I don’t
get any technical support from them. Only stating that in case anybody asks if I
had tried to contact support.

Side note, I do think that it’s fair for companies that provide a free tier of
their premium service to limit support for said free tiers. Free users don’t
contribute to your bottom line unless you’re pushing advertising on them or
selling their information so it’s not unreasonable to me to not invest those
resources in them.

So without support, I had to troubleshoot this on my own to figure out what may
have been going on.

Upon investigation, I found a bit of logic in my RSS feed that was converting
the timestamps string’s time value from 00:00:00 to 23:59:59. Seemed suspect.

Checked the history on that file and all I said about it was that I had “fixed
the timestamp” back in November of 2015.

If I had to speculate, WABAC machine Josh probably ran into a similar issue
where posts were sending when he thought they should be sending, thus fixing the

Josh of 2017 thinks that the change confused Freddie a bit.

So my campaign was setup to send at 8am EST and the post was shown as being
published at 11:59:59 PM on the date it was published.

Thought is that MailChimp has logic to check if there are brand new items on the
feed since that last time it did a send then checking if there are any items on
the feed that have been published since the last time it sent.

On Monday, the post appeared as brand new on my feed and it was sent. Tuesday
came around and the publish time of the post was after the time of the last send
(Monday at 8AM) thus looking like a new post and sending again on Tuesday.

One man’s theory at least.

Since I plan to continue the 3 posts a week and don’t want to piss anybody else
off so I’ve updated my MailChimp campaign to only send on Monday, Wendesday and

Hopefully the double sends won’t happen again!

Josh Sherman - The Man, The Myth, The Avatar

About Josh

Husband. Father. Pug dad. Musician. Founder of Holiday API, Head of Engineering and Emoji Specialist at Mailshake, and author of the best damn Lorem Ipsum Library for PHP.

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