Problems with mail forwarding from “” addresses

A customer recently reported problems when forwarding mail sent from a “” CompuServe address to a Yahoo or Gmail address. Yahoo completely rejects the forwarded message and Gmail puts it in a “spam” folder.

This is caused by a misconfiguration at, and happens whenever anyone, anywhere, forwards mail. It’s not related to our service in particular. However, we’ve reported this to in the hope that they’ll fix it.

Until they do so, there’s no way to avoid this problem except by having the sender send mail directly to the final destination address, or converting the forwarding address to a mailbox. (This problem is another example of the general rule that “a mailbox is usually more reliable than a forwarding address, because forwarding involves two places where things can go wrong instead of just one”.)

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Avoiding DMARC mail bounces with Contact Form 7

We recently explained how to avoid DMARC mail delivery problems with the “Gravity Forms” WordPress plugin.

We’ve added a support article explaining how to avoid DMARC mail delivery problems with the similar “Contact Form 7” plugin, too.

If you use either of these plugins and you’re seeing mail rejected with errors about “DMARC”, the links above will help you fix it.

Ensuring sent mail doesn’t bounce with the Gravity Forms plugin

If you use the Gravity Forms WordPress plugin, be sure you don’t set it to send mail “from” the e-mail address of the person filling out the form. If you do, you’ll have trouble due to recent “DMARC” anti-forgery changes some companies (including AOL and Yahoo) have made.

To avoid problems, make sure that Gravity Forms (and other such forms) send mail “from” the Web site domain name the form uses. For instance, if your Web site is at, you could send mail from “”. Here’s a helpful page that explains how to properly set up the Gravity Forms address with DMARC in mind.

By the way, this is just a specific case of the general rule of “don’t send mail from addresses you don’t own”. The simple way to think of it is that you’re not (say) AOL or Yahoo, so your Web site shouldn’t send mail claiming it’s from or addresses. AOL and Yahoo don’t want other people doing that. Always send mail only from your own domain name.

Mailman updated to avoid DMARC problem

In recent days, Yahoo and AOL made technical changes that prevented their own users from sending messages to most mailing lists. (That’s a simplified summary; your favorite search engine will show the gory details if you search for “Yahoo DMARC mailing lists”.)

If you use the Mailman software to run discussion lists, like many of our customers, this is a problem. To fix it, the authors of the Mailman software are making a new version to work around the Yahoo and AOL change.

That new version hasn’t been officially released yet, but we think this is so important that we’ve upgraded our installed copy of Mailman to a “pre-release” version of the fixed software.

Yahoo and AOL users should now be able to send to our customers’ Mailman lists without trouble.

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Seeing more bounces for addresses? It’s not just you.

Over the last couple of days, mail from addresses has been “bouncing” a lot more than usual, often with error messages about “policy” or “DMARC” problems. This is especially true for messages involving mailing lists or forwarding from other addresses.

If you see this happening, it isn’t because of anything wrong on your end, or our end. It’s happening all over the Internet.

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Old e-mail programs with expired SSL certificates

Some customers using very old e-mail programs (such as Microsoft Entourage and Netscape Mail) have complained that their programs have started showing a warning that the “Certificate Authority Is Expired” or “Unable to establish a secure connection”. These old e-mail programs have certificates for common “root certificate authorities” built into them, with expiration dates that have now passed. There is no way to update the root certificates which are built into these old programs, unfortunately, so these e-mail programs will always complain that the root certificates are expired and thus no longer valid. This is not a problem with our e-mail servers, but instead is a problem with the old e-mail programs — they were never expected to be used this long.

If this is happening to you, there are three possible actions.

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AOL mail delivery delays (resolved)

Update 5:00 PM December 27: AOL has resolved the problem described below. All delayed mail has been delivered, and all services are operating normally.

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AOL mail delivery delayed (resolved)

Update 6:20 PM October 11: AOL has resolved the problem described below. All delayed mail has been delivered, and all services are operating normally.

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Behind-the-scenes POP and IMAP mail upgrades

Over the next month or so, we’ll be upgrading the POP and IMAP software we use for e-mail mailboxes. We don’t expect customers to notice any change (except possibly improved speed) or experience any service interruption at all; we’re mentioning it just for completeness.

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“POP before SMTP” support phased out

Many, many years ago, some e-mail programs didn’t use a password when sending outgoing mail. That meant they didn’t work with many mail servers, including ours. To help customers with that problem, we used to allow a horrible alternate method called “POP before SMTP”, although it was never recommended or officially supported (it was unreliable and made it harder for us to prevent spam).

Well, here we are in a new millennium (“welcome!”). No popular mail program has needed “POP before SMTP” for more than a decade, and only a small handful of our customers are still using it. But spammers are continually trying to take advantage of the security problems it creates for all e-mail addresses, making it just as much of a nuisance on our end as it ever was.

Because of that, we no longer allow e-mail addresses to send mail using “POP before SMTP” unless they were previously doing so. In other words, if an address wasn’t using “POP before SMTP” before now, it won’t be able to start using it in the future.

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