FAQ
Hi all,
I tried searching the archives for a solution to my problem but couldn't
find anything. My apologies if this has been answered 100 times before.

I bought a new domain through hostgator.com and they have Mailman installed
so I can set up a mailing list. I've used mailman before through my
University and never had a problem with requests being filtered as spam.

Basically, when I try to add an e-mail account to the mailing list, it goes
into my Gmail spam box. I don't know why this would happen, as my domain
has never been used for anything before, so no one could have possibly
reported it as spam. The header is as follows:

from: artists-request at domain.com
to: invited at address.com
date: Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM
subject: Welcome to the "Artists" mailing list
mailing list: <artists_domain.com.>
mailed-by: domain.com

Where domain.com is my domain, artists is the name of the list, and
invited at address.com is the person I add to the list.

I have tried altering the content of the message, but nothing seems to work,
which leads me to believe it is being flagged as spam based on where it
originates from. But seeing as the website has no content on it (just a
line of text that says "Things will be here shortly") i dont know why gmail
would have a preconceived notion that it's a spamming site.

Any ideas?

Thanks!
Jeff

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  • Dragon at Jun 26, 2008 at 3:15 pm
    jeff zemla sent the message below at 08:05 6/26/2008:
    Hi all,
    I tried searching the archives for a solution to my problem but couldn't
    find anything. My apologies if this has been answered 100 times before.

    I bought a new domain through hostgator.com and they have Mailman installed
    so I can set up a mailing list. I've used mailman before through my
    University and never had a problem with requests being filtered as spam.

    Basically, when I try to add an e-mail account to the mailing list, it goes
    into my Gmail spam box. I don't know why this would happen, as my domain
    has never been used for anything before, so no one could have possibly
    reported it as spam. The header is as follows:

    from: artists-request at domain.com
    to: invited at address.com
    date: Wed, Jun 25, 2008 at 2:16 PM
    subject: Welcome to the "Artists" mailing list
    mailing list: <artists_domain.com.>
    mailed-by: domain.com

    Where domain.com is my domain, artists is the name of the list, and
    invited at address.com is the person I add to the list.

    I have tried altering the content of the message, but nothing seems to work,
    which leads me to believe it is being flagged as spam based on where it
    originates from. But seeing as the website has no content on it (just a
    line of text that says "Things will be here shortly") i dont know why gmail
    would have a preconceived notion that it's a spamming site.

    Any ideas?
    ---------------- End original message. ---------------------

    It is quite possible that the ISP you are using has hosted domains
    that were a problem and gmail is filtering on the fact that your
    domain is hosted in their IP address block.

    It is also quite possible that they are being quite draconian about
    the content of the message.

    Either way, the only way you will know for certain what is happening
    is if you contact their technical support (if you can actually get an
    answer out of them, they may well ignore your request too).


    Dragon

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Venimus, Saltavimus, Bibimus (et naribus canium capti sumus)
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
  • Brian Carpenter at Jun 26, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Hi all,
    I tried searching the archives for a solution to my problem but
    couldn't
    find anything. My apologies if this has been answered 100 times
    before.

    I bought a new domain through hostgator.com and they have Mailman
    installed
    so I can set up a mailing list. I've used mailman before through my
    University and never had a problem with requests being filtered as
    spam.
    You should contact Hostgator's tech support regarding this. What is the IP
    address of your hosting account?

    Regards,
    Brian
    --------------------------------------
    EMWD.com - 'Powered by Techies'
    Blog.emwd.com - "Curious comments from a web hosting techie"
  • Brad Knowles at Jun 27, 2008 at 12:21 am

    jeff zemla wrote:

    I have tried altering the content of the message, but nothing seems to work,
    which leads me to believe it is being flagged as spam based on where it
    originates from. But seeing as the website has no content on it (just a
    line of text that says "Things will be here shortly") i dont know why gmail
    would have a preconceived notion that it's a spamming site.
    This is one problem with reputation-based systems for detecting potential
    spam. You may have a nearby network neighbor that is responsible for
    generating a lot of spam (which seems likely, seeing as you say you bought
    the domain from hostgator.com).

    Or, the IP address you were assigned may have been used by spammers before
    it was re-assigned to you.

    There are a whole host of other reputational issues that you may be dealing
    with, but this should give you some idea.


    Fixing a tarnished reputation is hard. Very hard. Spammers don't care,
    since they just move on to somewhere else. But for the rest of us, it's a
    real pain.

    In the case of the first problem mentioned above (guilt by association),
    you're probably being caught by a blacklist that covers whole networks of
    machines, and there may not be any way for you to get off these blacklists.
    If you're on an IP-address specific blacklist, you may be able to get your
    provider to issue you a new address that is not blacklisted, or you may be
    able to get those blacklist owners to update their list to remove your address.

    Another option would be to move your domain and services to another
    provider, one that is much less friendly to spammers, and avoids both of the
    problems mentioned above.


    You could potentially sign up for service with a company like Habeas (for
    their "Safe List" service) or Return Path (for their "Sender Score
    Certified" service). If you're a small non-profit, they'll charge you a
    one-time fee, examine how your systems are set up and that you meet all
    appropriate "best practices" requirements, and then that will be that.

    If you're not a small non-profit, they'll do the same thing for you, but
    they'll charge you an annual fee.

    Habeas has the better reputation in the business, but is more expensive.
    Both are supported out-of-the-box with SpamAssassin, so they'll not only
    help you with all of the other customers with whom they have existing
    contracts and use the Habeas "Safe List" as a whitelist for incoming e-mail,
    but will also help you with anyone who runs a relatively generic install of
    SpamAssassin.

    Again, Habeas helps with sites running SpamAssassin more than Return Path,
    by improving your score by a full 8.0 points instead of just 4.0 points, and
    many sites run with 10.0 points being a guaranteed non-spam message, and 5.0
    being a probable non-spam message.
    Any ideas?
    And way you look at it, it sounds like you've got a lot of work ahead of you.

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
  • Jeff zemla at Jun 27, 2008 at 1:30 am
    Thanks Brian and Brad. Thankfully the solution was not so painful. I
    e-mail Hostgator, explained the situation, and asked if I could be moved to
    a different server/ip address.

    They got back to me quickly, saying:

    "I have installed something called DomainKeys on your domains which helps
    prevent free email services like yahoo and gmail from marking emails from a
    domain as spam."

    And he told me a few other things in case that didn't work. But wouldn't
    you know it, it worked perfectly!

    So for anyone else on shared hosting who may run into this problem--tell
    your host to install DomainKeys!

    Thanks again guys!

    Jeff


    On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 8:21 PM, Brad Knowles wrote:

    jeff zemla wrote:

    I have tried altering the content of the message, but nothing seems to
    work,
    which leads me to believe it is being flagged as spam based on where it
    originates from. But seeing as the website has no content on it (just a
    line of text that says "Things will be here shortly") i dont know why
    gmail
    would have a preconceived notion that it's a spamming site.
    This is one problem with reputation-based systems for detecting potential
    spam. You may have a nearby network neighbor that is responsible for
    generating a lot of spam (which seems likely, seeing as you say you bought
    the domain from hostgator.com).

    Or, the IP address you were assigned may have been used by spammers before
    it was re-assigned to you.

    There are a whole host of other reputational issues that you may be dealing
    with, but this should give you some idea.


    Fixing a tarnished reputation is hard. Very hard. Spammers don't care,
    since they just move on to somewhere else. But for the rest of us, it's a
    real pain.

    In the case of the first problem mentioned above (guilt by association),
    you're probably being caught by a blacklist that covers whole networks of
    machines, and there may not be any way for you to get off these blacklists.
    If you're on an IP-address specific blacklist, you may be able to get your
    provider to issue you a new address that is not blacklisted, or you may be
    able to get those blacklist owners to update their list to remove your
    address.

    Another option would be to move your domain and services to another
    provider, one that is much less friendly to spammers, and avoids both of the
    problems mentioned above.


    You could potentially sign up for service with a company like Habeas (for
    their "Safe List" service) or Return Path (for their "Sender Score
    Certified" service). If you're a small non-profit, they'll charge you a
    one-time fee, examine how your systems are set up and that you meet all
    appropriate "best practices" requirements, and then that will be that.

    If you're not a small non-profit, they'll do the same thing for you, but
    they'll charge you an annual fee.

    Habeas has the better reputation in the business, but is more expensive.
    Both are supported out-of-the-box with SpamAssassin, so they'll not only
    help you with all of the other customers with whom they have existing
    contracts and use the Habeas "Safe List" as a whitelist for incoming e-mail,
    but will also help you with anyone who runs a relatively generic install of
    SpamAssassin.

    Again, Habeas helps with sites running SpamAssassin more than Return Path,
    by improving your score by a full 8.0 points instead of just 4.0 points, and
    many sites run with 10.0 points being a guaranteed non-spam message, and 5.0
    being a probable non-spam message.

    Any ideas?
    And way you look at it, it sounds like you've got a lot of work ahead of
    you.

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
  • Brad Knowles at Jun 27, 2008 at 1:44 am

    jeff zemla wrote:

    So for anyone else on shared hosting who may run into this problem--tell
    your host to install DomainKeys!
    DomainKeys, DKIM, SenderID, CallerID, and SPF pretty much all fall into the
    same bucket.

    See my take on SPF at
    <http://bradknowles.typepad.com/considered_harmful/2004/05/spf.html>. What
    was true when I wrote this in 2004 is still true today.

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
  • Jeff zemla at Jun 27, 2008 at 1:57 am
    Hmm I really don't know that much about this stuff. Does this really affect
    me? I'm not looking for the "be all end all" of spam, as you say. At
    least, not spam at large.

    Really, I have no problem sending e-mails from my domain because I do that
    through Gmail.

    The only time when my mail gets filtered as Spam is when I send out messages
    on my announce-only mailing list. So as long as it continues to keep my
    announcements out of users' spam boxes, I'm happy.

    Should I be worried?

    Thanks,
    Jeff


    On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 9:44 PM, Brad Knowles wrote:

    jeff zemla wrote:

    So for anyone else on shared hosting who may run into this problem--tell
    your host to install DomainKeys!
    DomainKeys, DKIM, SenderID, CallerID, and SPF pretty much all fall into the
    same bucket.

    See my take on SPF at <
    http://bradknowles.typepad.com/considered_harmful/2004/05/spf.html>. What
    was true when I wrote this in 2004 is still true today.


    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
  • Mark Sapiro at Jun 27, 2008 at 3:01 am

    jeff zemla wrote:
    Hmm I really don't know that much about this stuff. Does this really affect
    me? I'm not looking for the "be all end all" of spam, as you say. At
    least, not spam at large.

    Yes. It may well affect you.

    Really, I have no problem sending e-mails from my domain because I do that
    through Gmail.

    The only time when my mail gets filtered as Spam is when I send out messages
    on my announce-only mailing list. So as long as it continues to keep my
    announcements out of users' spam boxes, I'm happy.

    Should I be worried?

    The addition of DKIM or domain keys to your outbound list mail clearly
    helps get your mail through to those direct recipients whose services
    like gmail or yahoo check DKIM or domainkey signatures and treat mail
    with valid signatures favorably.

    Since yours is an announce only list, you don't have to worry about the
    signatures on incoming mail being invalidated by things the list does
    to the message.

    The problem in your case is when someone at alumni.example.edu subscribes
    to your list and alumni.example.edu, which is just a forwarding
    service, forwards that mail to sombody at gmail.com, the signature may
    now be invalid because the IP that the message came to gmail from is
    that of alumni.example.com, not your IP that signed the mail or
    because of other transformations to the message by the forwarding
    service. Gmail may consider this to be worse than if the mail was
    unsigned.

    --
    Mark Sapiro <mark at msapiro.net> The highway is for gamblers,
    San Francisco Bay Area, California better use your sense - B. Dylan
  • Jeff zemla at Jun 27, 2008 at 3:17 am
    Hmm... My @rutgers.edu and @princeton.edu e-mail addresses both forward to
    my Gmail and work fine.

    But I do understand the issue now. I guess I'll just have to see how it
    goes...

    Thank you for the heads up!

    Jeff


    On Thu, Jun 26, 2008 at 11:01 PM, Mark Sapiro wrote:

    jeff zemla wrote:
    Hmm I really don't know that much about this stuff. Does this really affect
    me? I'm not looking for the "be all end all" of spam, as you say. At
    least, not spam at large.

    Yes. It may well affect you.

    Really, I have no problem sending e-mails from my domain because I do that
    through Gmail.

    The only time when my mail gets filtered as Spam is when I send out messages
    on my announce-only mailing list. So as long as it continues to keep my
    announcements out of users' spam boxes, I'm happy.

    Should I be worried?

    The addition of DKIM or domain keys to your outbound list mail clearly
    helps get your mail through to those direct recipients whose services
    like gmail or yahoo check DKIM or domainkey signatures and treat mail
    with valid signatures favorably.

    Since yours is an announce only list, you don't have to worry about the
    signatures on incoming mail being invalidated by things the list does
    to the message.

    The problem in your case is when someone at alumni.example.edu subscribes
    to your list and alumni.example.edu, which is just a forwarding
    service, forwards that mail to sombody at gmail.com, the signature may
    now be invalid because the IP that the message came to gmail from is
    that of alumni.example.com, not your IP that signed the mail or
    because of other transformations to the message by the forwarding
    service. Gmail may consider this to be worse than if the mail was
    unsigned.

    --
    Mark Sapiro <mark at msapiro.net> The highway is for gamblers,
    San Francisco Bay Area, California better use your sense - B. Dylan
  • Brad Knowles at Jun 27, 2008 at 3:32 am

    On 6/26/08, jeff zemla wrote:

    Really, I have no problem sending e-mails from my domain because I do
    that through Gmail.
    Keep in mind that spammers have hacked the CAPTCHAs for hotmail,
    yahoo, and gmail, and they are aggressively using these services to
    send out their spam. About half of the traffic we see from Yahoo is
    actually spam coming from compromised or bogus accounts.

    The situation with gmail is even worse -- not only in terms of
    numbers, but also in terms of what they're being used for.
    Unfortunately, a disproportionate amount of phishing comes from gmail.

    So, while we might exempt Yahoo from our reputation-based filtering
    and filter their messages based on content only, we are much more
    loathe to do that for Gmail, because phishing is so much harder to
    detect.


    Note that this is for my current employer, one of the largest public
    research universties in the world, with ~50,000 students and ~20,000
    faculty and staff, and we run the anti-spam filtering for pretty much
    the entire campus through our Ironport e-mail security appliances.

    We're throwing away ~97% of all inbound e-mail as almost certainly
    being "spam", with about another ~1% being filtered out due to
    content. That leaves millions of messages a day that make it through
    the system, and yahoo and gmail are, by far, our biggest
    correspondent sites.

    Now imagine what would happen if we were forced to exempt gmail from
    our reputation filtering.



    So, are you directly affected by any of this? Maybe, maybe not.

    Are you likely to get caught up and washed away in the spam flood of
    biblical proportions, in part due to your choice in providers? Yes.

    --
    Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
    LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>

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