Out of Office & Incorrect Email Addresses

  silverous 21:22 07 Aug 2006

Our work email address was listed on Spamcop today. As I delved into the reason for this it is to do with the way our mail filter sends a non-delivery report to people who email ex-employees addresses. Because it isn't part of the initial email system dialog (the email is sent afterwards) it is effectively spam. I accept this and we are changing it however on reading into the subject it is apparently now 'bad practice' to either:

i) Allow Out Of Office messages to go over the internet (you are expected instead to email all your contacts before you go, which I think could also be argued is a form of spam!)

ii) Bounce an email if it is sent to an incorrect address

The first is a very useful tool without which, at best, you might be thought not to be responding to a customer/supplier/friend etc.

The second to me is essential as the alternative is either a) Someone thinks the email has been received or b) You have to employ someone full time (for a busy email system) to wade through all the rubbish to see if there are genuine, mis-spelt email addresses in there.

To me this is a case of techies dictating a little too much of how systems work...what the IT industry should be doing is finding a way to make these useful tools work without being exploited. One chap on a forum compared it to a pen-knife - stating that although it is a useful tool, you aren't allowed to carry it on an airplane. I thought that was a rubbish comparison as there are few genuine reasons to be doing that, whereas these 2 features are very powerful day-to-day tools.


  PurplePenny 21:52 07 Aug 2006

I completely agree that out-of-office messages are useful and incorrect address messages are essential.

Spamcop is overzealous. It causes me no end of problems with my Yahoo groups because Spamcop identifies some Yahoo group posts (but not all) as spam and bounces them back to Yahoo. Yahoo then lists me as bouncing and I don't get any more list mail.

I complained to my ISP because this means that legitimate e-mails, that I *want* to receive, are being bounced without my knowledge.

  Forum Editor 23:22 07 Aug 2006

and agree with what Penny has said. Out-of-Office messages are absolutely essential, and my advice is to continue to use them, no matter what you've read to the contrary.

  silverous 08:26 08 Aug 2006

FE, thanks for the words of support. Do you agree with bounces when an incorrect address has been used also?

My concern is that if a spamcop 'spam trap' receives one (or perhaps several) of these (because a spammer used their address as the 'from' of the email) it appears they will list your mail server as sending spam and as we found yesterday we will be unable to email certain partners.

Interestingly I don't 'blame' spamcop for this policy, I think the people who use it as a filter need to do so without using it as an 'on/off' switch as it is clearly relatively aggressive.

Worryingly, our mail filter software supplier appears to agree that Out of Office and incorrect receipient bounces should not be used.

It seems to me entirely possible that a co-ordinated effort to introduce better protocols could lead to the eradication of spam....removing these 'steps too far'. There doesn't seem to be much of a push in that direction although I understand the protocols and initiatives are out there.

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