Lets first make it clear that I'm not a gmail-is-evil person. It seemed quite a few people commenting weren't sure which side of the fence I was on. And it was interesting watching people trying to convince either me or each other of each side of the argument. I'm partly sorry I asked, because it has led to people getting worked up about it again which isn't what I was after.
Basically I'm aware that some of my friends are really genuinely unhappy about communicating by email when that email is going to end up in Google's database. Especially so when it's not obvious: like mailing lists or people who forward their email from another address. I was curious just how far this strong feeling goes because to be honest it's a complete bloody nuisance, and I'm sorry if it makes me selfish to feel that way.
At the moment I basically have three mailboxes, and none of them is good enough.
My work mailbox is reliable and has fairly good anti-spam measures too. It's a stable reliable mail system under the watchful eye of admins I know and trust who are paid to keep it that way, and no-one dislikes it. It's rare to unheard of for mail not to get through, and it's always been possible to fix any such problems. But it's for work, I'd never find personal stuff in amongst it, and it's not supposed to be for more than minor personal use anyway.
My main personal mailbox has an admin I know and trust, and does a pretty good job of filtering out spam. I read mail on it locally with a unix mail client I'm happy with, I can look at the logs and see what has actually happened to mail, and it has an email address which I've been using for some time and which is in everyone's addressbook. The problem is it's very strict about what mail it accepts. To a certain extent you can turn off the most aggressive bits and work around it, but basically now and then something happens and some people just can't mail me. At the moment no mail from hotmail can get through. My boyfriend and my sister can no longer send me mail. And the admin just doesn't have the time or effort to work out how to work around it, and has admitted he doesn't have the inclination either. It's just not good enough any more, which is a real shame.
And my third mailbox is on gmail. I'd rather I could access it by IMAP instead of only webmail, POP or by forwarding mail to another address, but the webmail is actually pretty good. The anti-spam is really good, considering the deprecated firstname.lastname@example.org address now goes there, and has been on the web and usenet for years and gets lots of junk as a result. I've not yet found anyone who can't mail me there. But some of my friends just don't want to communicate with me there. And specifically the admin of my main mailbox is one of them, and would be extremely unhappy with me forwarding that mail there.
So that's why I want to know just how many people feel strongly about gmail.
I'd really love any suggestions about what the hell I do now too. I don't want to keep changing email addresses. I don't really want to use a forwarding address that I can move around between suppliers either because that adds one extra layer where mails can get stuck and it's one where you have much less chance of being able to get at the logs and work out what's going on - especially as informal forwarding services tend to be run by friends who don't have the time to chase things down for one awkward user. And I don't know how the hell to *find* a mail provider who is not going to turn out to have one of these problems or another one altogether. I'm completely frustrated by the whole thing.