Avoid forwarding spam to other services

When you create an e-mail address in our control panel, you can usually choose the level of spam filtering we apply to incoming mail. One of those options is to turn off the filtering completely.

If you’re just delivering mail to a mailbox on our servers, this may cause your mailbox to fill up with junk, but beyond that, it doesn’t usually cause any problems for us.

But if you’re forwarding all your mail to another service, this can cause problems, and you may find that we apply some filtering anyway.

What’s the problem?

If the other service tracks incoming spam, they’ll think that the spam originates from our servers (they don’t know that we’re just forwarding it), giving our servers a bad reputation. And that does cause problems for us, because those servers will start blocking other mail from our customers if the “spam percentage” gets high enough.

Because of that, we have a longstanding policy that customers shouldn’t completely turn off spam filtering when forwarding mail to other services that track or reject spam. For some popular services that are picky about this, our control panel interface only allows you to choose full (“Standard”) filtering; for the rest, we expect customers to use common sense to avoid forwarding spam to other companies.

However, we’ve been more lax about this than we should be, and our servers’ forwarded spam statistics have been creeping up. To make sure mail from our servers is not blocked, we’re trying to do a better job of enforcing at least some filtering when forwarding to external services that track it.

If you try to turn off spam filtering completely for an address that forwards to another company, you may find that we still automatically apply at least minimal (“Low”) filtering. In the unlikely event this causes problems, please contact us and we’ll help you direct all your mail to a mailbox on our servers or resolve the problem another way.

That said, we should probably mention that a comment we occasionally hear — “I want to turn off filtering completely to avoid legitimate messages being blocked” — is usually based on a misunderstanding. Our “Low” spam filtering setting is already equivalent to what many companies actually do if you ask them to “disable spam filtering”, and it should never block any legitimate messages. If it does, you can manually whitelist just those messages instead of allowing spam from everyone. The only reason we know of to completely disable all filtering is that you actually want to receive messages that really are spam, which is rare.