Email Problems with replying to Gmail

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Billy

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May 15, 2023, 5:50:47 PM5/15/23
to London Hackspace

I had heard about problems appearing within the email-service-provider industry, but i hadn't had it hit me until now.

According  to one of the anti-trust investigations that is taking place in the USA, the large email-service-providers are trying to create a cartel, by refusing to accept emails, except from a specific list of authenticated email-service-providers.

I can see how they could justify this as an anti-spam measure, but i can also see how it could be mis-used to create a "Walled Garden" that inhibits inter-operability, blocks customer-transfer, and blocks independent service providers.

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One of the named participants in the lawsuit is the branch of Alphabet that runs the google-groups mailing list we are using, and another is the branch that runs Gmail.

I wouldn't have noticed this, but i was emailed via the "Direct Message" function on this mailing list, but when i replied via email to a Gmail account, i got an "undelivered mail" error message, with the details that said "Your mail-server is not authenticated".

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So  two questions:

- Has anyone else had this happen?

-  If so, what sort of work-arounds did you use to fix it?

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Also, if you have tried to contact me and it seems like i haven't replied, then my apologies.

Please email me directly. :D

Paddy Smith

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May 18, 2023, 9:57:09 AM5/18/23
to London Hackspace
When did "don't be evil" go?

I am a recovering mail admin. I have heard the siren song of the ban hammer.

Anyway, this tendancy had already started more than a decade ago. Many mail servers would reject connections from dial-up addresses, and even some of the slummier hosting companies (like the one we were on).

Who pays for the free stuff?

We live in interesting times. Pandemics. War. Economic volatility. Sovereign defaults. Food and energy supply disruption. Bitcoin. de-dolarisation. Central bank digital currency. Inflation. GPU prices. Deep Learning. Large Language models. Accusations of politically motivated debanking. Pollution. Habitat destruction. Climate change. Mass extinction. 

And spam. Lots of spam.

Maybe time to build a rocket and find a new planet to destroy?

Paddy

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faissal bensefia

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May 18, 2023, 11:43:47 AM5/18/23
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Yes generally speaking anything I send from my firemail.cc gets sent
straight to spam, unless they've explicitly marked me as 'not spam'.
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Andy Smith

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May 19, 2023, 11:28:41 PM5/19/23
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Hi Billy,

On Mon, May 15, 2023 at 02:50:47PM -0700, Billy wrote:
> According to one of the anti-trust investigations that is taking place in
> the USA, the large email-service-providers are trying to create a cartel,
> by refusing to accept emails, except from a specific list of authenticated
> email-service-providers.

This is not the case; the "authentication" steps that Gmail (for
example) increasingly demands are openly specified so pretty much
anyone with the will can jump through those hoops, it's just that
the small sender has to do a lot of work to get mail in to the likes
of Gmail compared to anywhere else. Meanwhile the amount of unwanted
email coming out of Gmail seems disproportionate (but might not be,
by their metrics).

And also that there is absolutely no customer service or support to
tell you what you did wrong. Unless it's a slam-dunk case that the
rejection message covers, you will be directed to a generic advice
page which may or may not include your problem somewhere within it.

And these problems can come and go based on what Gmail thinks your
sending IP or network's reputation is at any given time.

And having no reputation at all is considered negatively.

And the vast number of sending networks in the world will never send
enough email to make the meter tick at all by Gmail standards.

And for the Gmail recipient, their "lost" email is the sender's
fault, not Gmail's, and even if they think that Gmail MAY have done
something suboptimal, what are they going to do? Change AWAY from
Gmail!? Certainly not! That's so much work!

So you can see why increasingly, small senders throw their hands up
and pay an Email Service Provider to send their email out. The
comparatively small number of senders begins to look like a cartel.

> I can see how they could justify this as an anti-spam measure, but i can
> also see how it could be mis-used to create a "Walled Garden" that inhibits
> inter-operability, blocks customer-transfer, and blocks independent service
> providers.

Their users don't care.

> So two questions:
>
> - Has anyone else had this happen?

Thousands of small senders see it every day. And consider themselves
lucky to have got such a strong signal, instead of their mail being
silently placed in a junk folder that is never looked at.

> - If so, what sort of work-arounds did you use to fix it?

They aren't work-arounds, they are the correct industry standard way
to configure a sending email domain in the 21st century. The fact
that you can get away without doing it for sending to many other
places is just because those other places are more lenient and are
not trying to massively scale down the cost of dealing with inbound
spam while massively scaling up the number of mailboxes they have.

The reference to "authenticated" in the rejection message means
your domain does not use SPF and DKIM. SPF authenticates certain IP
addresses as being allowed to send email on behalf of your domain.
DKIM authenticates the actual content of the email as being
something that your domain really sent. Either one of them is almost
required these days by Gmail. Having both of them is better.

To set up SPF you will have to make changes to your DNS.

To set up DKIM is more involved; there would be changes to your DNS
and also to the software on your outbound mail servers to configure
them to add the DKIM headers to emails as they go out.

If you already use an Email Service Provider to send out email then
they may have the facility to turn these things on without you
having to know how they work.

Good luck!

I don't think any lawsuit against the major mailbox providers will
go anywhere because to force them to accept email they don't want to
accept will set a very bad precedent. At least we can all use
standards like SPF and DKIM. I would rather see some sort of legal
intervention based on limiting how much spam comes OUT of these
major mailbox providers.

And if you think Gmail is bad, t-online (Germany) have for several
years stopped accepting email from mail servers they haven't
allowlisted individually. As in, they reject all your email until
you contact them and ask them not to. At which point they ask you to
publish your name and postal address ("an impressum"). The only
reason why this hasn't caused much of an uproar is because they
"only" have a few million German-speaking users who generally just
give up and use Gmail to receive email, not their domestic ISP. By
comparison, Gmail has around 2 billion active users.

Cheers,
Andy
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