[plug] lost emails

Peter Wright pete at flooble.net
Fri Dec 28 14:34:39 WST 2007

On 27/12 21:13:35, David Dartnall wrote:
> Richard Meyer wrote:
>> On Thu, 2007-12-27 at 20:40 +0900, David Dartnall wrote:
>>> Perhaps someone can point me in the right direction: Emails I've
>>> been sending over the last few years to a particular recipient are
>>> not now being received by him. Started about three months ago. And
>>> they're not being bounced - I have had no idea that they weren't
>>> getting there.
[ ... ]
>>> Where could they have gone? I've always assumed emails to have
>>> been received by the recipient if not bounced.

Heh. A comforting-but-not-always-true assumption. :)

>> Dave,
>> The most likely thing is that he's signed up for a spam filtering
>> service (or his ISP has given him one, unasked - out of the goodness of
>> their hearts), and you've been adjudged a spammer ... ;-)

I'd have to agree with Richard - that sounds like the most likely

I recently had an interesting email-sending problem to work out
- the client's company was unable to send email to some (many? most?)
of their usual targets. It became even more of a pain when we realised
their emails to *us* (their tech-support people) weren't getting through.

Turned out that it was due to an unofficial SpamAssassin plugin regex
mis-matching against a particular sequence of characters in their
standard sigfile. And of course that SA test scored 5.0 all by itself,
causing every single one of their emails to be chucked in the spam bin.
(Yeah, we fixed up our client whitelisting after that :))

SpamAssassin (and probably other commercial spam-filter systems) can
also be configured to use blacklists like, eg. Spamcop - which can
also lead to the sort of behaviour you've seen.

For example, a RBL like Spamcop is configured in a mailserver and
your email (to that mailserver) is blocked, your mailserver should
generate some form of bounce message back to you.

But if that same RBL test is used after your email's been "accepted"
by the remote mailserver - as part of a SpamAssassin-style filtering
system - then your email may fail that test, be marked as spam and
thrown in the spam bin. And you'd never know about it.

>> If your mail gets to everyone else, it's most likely him rather
>> than you.  
> Yeah that's what I told him - didn't go down too well!  But I'm not
> so sure...

Try sending him email from a couple of different webmail providers,
and one from your normal email system, as about the same time.

For example, one from Yahoo Mail, then one from your normal email
system, then one from GMail (or whatever).

If he receives the two webmail emails but not yours, then you have
some kind of independent verification (as well as some data that can
be tracked down in mailserver logfiles). Then ask your ISP to confirm
your email was sent (giving specific time/date to/from addresses) from
their mailserver - then get your friend to contact his ISP and get
them to confirm (a) their mailserver received your email, and (b) what
exactly happened to it after that?

Yes, it could be a slow and painful process - unless both you and your
friend's ISPs actually care about responding to customer problems
*wry grin*.

You may (quite seriously) find it easier to just use a working webmail
option in the interim.

> DD

computer programmer, n. A device for converting beer into code. In
advanced use, specific beers are used for certain types of code.
Tanglefoot should be avoided in safety-critical applications.
		-- The Devil's IT Dictionary

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