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Is there any effective way to certify a domain name, an email server, an email message, etc so that it will not be bounced as spam?

I've got a short, plain letter .com domain name registered through godaddy (with proxy-registration) that has never been previously owned and has never, to my knowledge, been exploited for sending spam while I've owned it (I have the only user account). But still, some emails - usually critical, initial emails to new customers - are getting dropped, sometimes with no bounce message and nothing in their spam folder.

My mail is hosted through Google Apps where any hosting issue I experience would be multiplied by the number of customers and hopefully addressed or at least known.

I've experienced similar email problems even on cox.net ISP email, but it's really beginning to get on my nerves!

Thanks,

Jason

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Leaving this open for a bit in case there are new ideas. Google Apps SPF instructions: google.com/support/a/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=33786. Interesting tool: mxtoolbox.com –  uosɐſ Dec 31 '09 at 22:01
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4 Answers 4

up vote 2 down vote accepted

One small thing you can do is set up a SPF record.

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I had not done that. Thanks! Any way to test it to make sure it is set up correctly? I don't know that sending to one of the problem emails is a conclusive test... –  uosɐſ Dec 31 '09 at 21:59
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Due to emails distributed nature theres no way of achieveing what you are asking. Reasons for this include that all email servers are owned and managed by independent organisations, granted, some larger than others.

In the past a few larger corporations has tried to implement "permier class" email where they whitelist you in return for cash, either a per transaction charge or a flat fee. Either way In my opinion this is against the spirit of the Internet and should not be encouraged.

Spam detection is far from an exact science and theres a myriad of techniques involved in spam detection, anyting ranging from sophisticated heuristic scans, simple text and format scans, distributed blacklists, checksumming systems etc. The list goes on.

The best you can do is use a proper email client to send properly formatted emails, have a properly configured server that plays nicely and stays out of various blacklists. As far as a properly confugured server goes I assume you already have that. :-)

However as for blacklists you can check your domain against a fairly large list of well known and not so well known lists here http://freecode.nl/rbl/

Furthermore you should consider getting in touch with both your provider aswell as the email recipients provider to figure out why the emails were dropped. This might lead you to the root cause of your problem. Keep in mind modern email setups are usually quite complex.

Best of luck! :)

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I upvoted you, but ceejayoz's SPF Record suggestion was the one that seemed to make an improvement. I appreciate the time you took in your response. –  uosɐſ Jan 8 '10 at 23:43
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As Rune has said, you can't do what you want but it does appear to me those messages are getting swallowed by spam filters. You need to look into why that may be and what you can do about it. Sometimes it's as simple as changing the wording of the message. As a first step I suggest checking RBLs to see if you're listed. If you are then check their help pages, which are often very useful in determining why you're on their list and what to do to prevent it. From experience I can tell you it can be a slow but very educational process with worthwhile rewards.

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Another problem can be the originating IP address of your SMTP server. We purchased two blocks of IP addresses, and one range was completely blocked by gmail as it had been incorrectly allocated as a "dynamic ISP range". This might have been true once upon a time, but was no longer true.

We switched the outbound IP address of the mail server to an IP in the other block, and hey presto - instant working mail server.

So if someone has been really, really bad with your IP range before your time, this can be a real problem. Imagine if you were a legitimate McColo user. Your IP space would be forever tainted.

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