E-Mail Lists - Rejection Notices

Regarding: List Mail Rejected by List Members' E-Mail Servers

What started out as a small problem with a few rejections per day has grown to huge proportions. In the beginning I was dealing with from a few to maybe a hundred pieces of rejection email daily from the email servers of our list members. Now that number has grown from around five hundred on a 'average' day to over a thousand on a busy day on the lists.

There are various reasons for this to happen. Sometimes email servers have short 'down-time' periods for maintenance, etc. This can not be helped and the new policy will for the most part allow for this temporary condition.

Some members use 'free' email accounts from providers like Yahoo, Microsoft's Hotmail and the like. These free email accounts have a very limited space for a member to store their incoming email. Once that mail quota has been reached the provider bounces any new email back to the sender. The only solution here is for the given list member to check their email often to keep the amount of email in their server storage space down, or in the case of a member subscribed to the single post versions it might help some to switch over to the Digest version of their chosen lists.

All it takes is ten subscribers with 'Over disk quota' problems on a busy list day to generate a thousand error messages that tardigrade.net's email server, and ultimately myself, have to deal with. The actual mix of reasons for rejected list mail varies but the quantity of rejected list mail is a realistic sum.

Worse yet, some email providers will hold a piece of email for up to five days, trying every so often to complete delivery of the email. Each time they try and fail they send an error/warning report to the list. As a result we can get many error messages, per each list post, till the email provider stops trying to deliver that item.

When I receive a "Over Quota" rejection notice for a subscriber, I will mark the first notice for attention on the next day. If I'm still receiving rejection notices then I will unsubscribe that address. Once the problem has been resolved you are free to re-subscribe to the list(s).

Another problem, that has been increasing on a daily basis, are those ISPs that are placing SPAM/Adult Content filters on their email servers in an attempt to control the overwhelming problem of unsolicited email (SPAM). I've even gotten a rejection notice from one ISP/email server that was rejecting a Digest because it contained the word "urine" in it. Add to that those email servers that aren't configured properly and can't seem to resolve tardigrade.net's IP address into a valid domain name and reject list mail for that reason. Solving those issues will have to be between the subscriber and his/her ISP/E-Mail Provider.

When I do get SPAM rejection notices they are one of two varieties. The first is the rejection of a single post because the given email server's SPAM Filter caught a word or more that it didn't like. There are many words used in daily conversation among 'dog people' that SPAM filters alert on. Then there's the complete banning of anything from the list addresses because the SPAM filter thinks the list's volume qualifies it as probable SPAM, or the filter decides the content of the list mail uses too many 'bad' words and needs to be permanently banned.

In either case I will notify the list member by forwarding the error/rejection notice from the ISP/E-Mail Provider to the list member. I will use my own email address so a ban on tardigrade.net shouldn't stop the notice from getting to the effected list member.

In the case of the one time rejection, usually for language issues, I will notify the list member so they know what's happening and I will take no further action.

In the case of a complete ban of list mail to an address I will notify the list member of the problem and flag the member address for attention on the next day. If by then the issue is not resolved I will unsub the member's address from the list. However, once you've beaten it into the collective heads of whomever runs your mail server and/or SPAM filters that you really do want to get mail from one or more of the lists please do feel free to re-subscribe.

Our new policy will be aimed at cutting down the number of rejected email sent back to majordomo, and then to me. Once again, when a list member's email server starts repeatedly rejecting list mail (for whatever reason) I will flag that first rejection notice for attention on the next day. If I'm still getting rejection notices from that subscriber's email server at that time I will unsubscribe that address. Since I'm getting the rejection notices the subscriber is not getting those list posts anyway. We here can make suggestions as to what one can do to resolve the issue, but ultimately it will be the subscriber's responsibility to see that they are able to receive email from the lists.

We really don't wish to punish anyone here. But if your server is not letting you get the list mail anyway it's best for all concerned to save the bandwidth and the list's email server the time and space involved in handling constant rejection notices. The burden has to be placed on you, the subscriber, because your email server Administrators "don't know me from Adam" and you are their paying customers. They are motivated to listen to you because they want to keep you as customers. If they need to speak to me regarding the issue they can write to owner-NameOfList@tardigrade.net.

Whatever the cause, once the problem has been resolved you are free to re-subscribe to the list(s).

NOTE: If you're not getting your list mail and you know you're still an active subscriber there are a couple of things you can check. First, if you're using your own email filters be sure that you're not blocking the delivery of your list mail. Second, some ISPs / E-Mail Providers employ SPAM filters, but do not bother to tell you or the sender that a piece of email is being rejected.

Allyn Weaks, who has donated the domain and server space for ClickTrain and K9-Cuisine, has put up a page (SPAM, E-Mail Blocking and tardigrade.net) with more details regarding SPAM filters and list mail. Some of what I've written here will be repeated there but she goes into greater detail.

Majordomo does keep archives on postings from all the lists in Digest form, so if you do miss some list mail you can retrieve it from the archives. For detailed instructions on retrieving digests from the archive click here.