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When I started learning how to configure email, SPF existed but there were doubts about whether it was a good thing, and the value of offering SPF records in DNS. Now it seems that it is widely accepted that some form of well-known sender validation is good practice.

Is this really true? Am I being a bad postmaster by not supporting SPF/DKIM/whatever?

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As far as sending mail: sender validation is only important if the receiving mail server is going to check for it. A few years ago this was scarce, but nowadays I see many more mail servers actually validating senders, with a lot of them using SPF.

While I do have SPF setup on my mail server/domain, I don't validate senders when receiving mail because I work with many smaller corporations, who do not do any sender validation, yet I need to receive their email.

My $0.02: I'd eventually do sender validation because I think it's a good way to go, but there's no rush.

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If a domain doesn't have a policy set then validation will pass because it hasn't failed a policy that doesn't exist. Unless you have the server configured extremely tightly and 'no record' is a failure. But this isn't normal. You should reconsider validating SPF if your software supports it. – Chris S Apr 14 '10 at 12:56
I had SPF at one point, and my server was rejecting emails I needed to receive. It rejected them because of the SPF. And not to be rude, but try being more positive in your answers. We're all here to help. – Theo Apr 14 '10 at 13:57
My appologies if I came off in negative manor; I tend to be terse if not curt. Any of my answers can using improving, and I welcome help posted in the comments. – Chris S Apr 14 '10 at 19:39

You are a bad postmaster if you have never evaluated the costs/benefits of adding SPF and DKIM. If you have looked at them and decided they're of insignificant benefit, that's your decision, and I highly respect that you made an informed decision.

Mailservers I configure are set to strongly enforce the policies you set via SPF & DKIM. Server software that supports validation is usually higly configurable; you can enforce the sender's policy as-is, add to it, or use it as part of a multilayer approach (such as SpamAssassin).

I always publish SPF records, as it's very quick and easy; DKIM take just a little bit more, but does require software that supports it.

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