Are Hotmail cutting their own throat

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Hotmail says I send Spam

Spam is a big problem for everyone. Postini estimate that spam now accounts for approximately 87% of all email on the Internet. There are several technologies that greatly reduce its penetration though, especially when used in combination. The exact technologies used by Hotmail are not clear, but if you’re having problems sending to Hotmail it might be worth having a look through their various FAQ’s, guidelines, anti-spam policies, and services aimed towards the sender. If you wade through all this and are confident your environment checks out but are still having no success sending to Hotmail, you can always contact their support staff, which is exactly what I did.

The response I got from Hotmail support was that their SmartScreen technology had identified email coming from my domain as being spam and had blocked my email server IP. Now, even if I was sending spam, somehow blacklisting the IP regardless of what other domains are sending email through that server does not seem especially “smart” to me. Hotmail support would not tell me why my domain was being flagged for spam, and when asked what the possible solutions were I was told I could sign up for 3rd party accreditation through Sender Score Certified (at a cost of $400USD start up, and $1000USD each year) who maintain the only whitelist service Hotmail use, and was also advised I could try tightening my SPF policy. Just to be especially vague the footer on the email also stated that there were no guarantees that any of the solutions offered would work. Great! So I could end up paying $1400USD to be accredited by a 3rd party whitelist just so I can send to Hotmail, and there is still no guarantee that if I get accreditation that my mail will get through.

I took the other option and tightened my SPF policy so that it explicitly stated what servers were able to send email on behalf of my domain using the “-all” option. I waited 72 hours as the hotmail support said it would take to update Hotmail’s various caches, but still I could not send emails to Hotmail. I then came across this article on openspf which pointed out that in fact the SenderID technology which Microsoft had championed (and Hotmail use) as another anti spam technology was in fact highly incompatible with SPF policies. Microsoft were apparently even made aware of this prior to the final release, but did not do anything to correct it despite there being hundreds of thousands of domains with active SPF policies in effect at the time. I updated my domain with a SenderID policy and waited another 72 hours but still the problem persisted. I contacted hotmail support again who informed me that if SmartScreen was flagging my email server IP due to a reputation issue (or lack of it) then it might take longer than 72 hours for the problem to rectify itself.

Comments

Anonymous's picture

I can send now

After 3 months sending emails to microsoft's support, they finally removed my IP from their black list.
I did all the steps suggested in this pdf http://download.microsoft.com/download/e/3/3/e3397e7c-17a6-497d-9693-78f80be272fb/enhance_deliver.pdf
except pay for third part white list, and they finally answered me with this:

"I am pleased to inform you that we have taken steps to implement a temporary mitigation to your mail delivery problem. The mitigation will take 24-48 hours to fully reflect in our system.

During the mitigation period your emails should not experience any issues arriving in Hotmail customer's inboxes. This period will also give our filters sufficient time to learn enough about your mailing practices that after the mitigation expires your mails shouldn't any issues with arriving in our Hotmail customer's inboxes. Hotmail has created group of programs that should benefit your mailings during this time. To help avoid future issues I would strongly suggest enrolling-in or implementing these if you have not already. "

So, never quit!

Anonymous's picture

Why doesn't Microsoft take this problem seriously?

I have several websites at different hosting companies. For the last two years I have gotten complaints from new users signing up who says they never receive verification e-mail (I use that to verify that the e-mail address is valid) and thus can't login for the first time. Everyone who has problems was using hotmail.
I haven't spent much time trying to get it working since the majority of users still have other e-mail providers.
But recently I set up two sites at the same hosting, therefore using the same mail server although different domains. One of them works without problems, even hotmail users recive notifications by mail.
But on the other mails disappear into the Hotmail Black Hole. No bouncing, no errors. Irony - all my websites run on Microsoft software...

I found this story and everything made sense. What strikes me is that these problems were reported to Microsoft early 2007 - and still almost a year later they have done NOTHING to take care of it?
I think that to few end users have been informed. To few website owners have started blocking hotmail users from signing up. Probably because MS help the bigger ones out and ignores the small.

Hosting companies have more or less given up since Microsoft only provide useless support as reported by many people on these forums. Even when supplied with sufficient evidence the support staff sends back "have you looked in the Junk folder?"-kind of replies.

What if all affected by this set up auto-replies "Unfortunately we cannot accept e-mail from hotmail.com-domain until Microsoft accepts the e-mails we send out. Please contact Microsoft support. If they can't help you, here is a list of other great mail services that are free as well:"

Anonymous's picture

Why even honour them with

Why even honour them with specific mention of their name.
it'll only boost up their search engine results and make that retarded #opps#s look important.

back in the days, whenever there was a 'well known' problem with one of the crappy free mailers we just put them into the enemy list in the signup thing going 'we don't accept e-mail addresses from this country/company for technical reasons' or something like that, you don't specifically mention 'hotmail' on your sites, that will only give them a hard one.

as for the rest of it, we can pull m$ tricks as well but having sites going 'this site won't display unless you upgrade to a real operating system with a real browser' doesn't exactly help the cashflow process :P

although you could try to get microsoft to pay $1400 to be 'approved' to 'fix' the problems with their browsers/e-mail users/clients/etc :P

clearly these people still don't have any understanding about the concept 'internet' which includes that i allow you to transfer your data over my network and you allow me to transfer my data over yours, also on higher levels such as e-mail exchange.

oh well, in the end, most people using m$ crap are low-budget customers anyway, we don't really miss out on a lot of money if we would just block them all artificially (ip fingerprinting or useragent or mailheaders wise).

but #opps# it, they're a has-been anyway.

Anonymous's picture

Sending POP mail using hotmail

I collect all my POP3 mail using Windows Live Mail. Two of the sources do not allow sending so I want to set Hotmail as the sending server.

Is this possible? What are the encantations needed? Thanks

Anonymous's picture

Want to get your rivals website banned?

Here is the most ludicrous thing about Hotmail.

Set up a new Hotmail account, import about 100 hotmail addresses into the contact list and then send a message to all of them using BCC

In the message put your rival websites address. The idiot Hotmail program will then pick up the URL and do a reverse ip check and ban the ip address.

How do I know this? Well, I was stupid enough to send an email to all my contacts informing them that our domain name had changed. Hotmail decided I was spamming and banned the new domain's server ip address.

To this day I still can't send an email from the server to any hotmail address. They just vanish.

So if you really want to get rid of all your web rivals just do the same thing. If enough people do it then maybe Hotmail will wake up and realize how stupid it is to ban a site based on a single URL in an email sent to multiple users. (I could understand this if I sent it to like 2 or 3 thousand, but just a hundred users? Wake up Hotmail)

Anonymous's picture

No hotmail is allowed

I am going to prevent users to sign up with hotmail account at my site, and I will force existing members to change their email address

Anonymous's picture

Ban the Hotmail

In my opinion - Microsoft cashing in and will end up loosing out end of day

i have many servers, some work fine some get blackholed

Keith

Anonymous's picture

Stupid workaround

I've been plagued with the same issue since relocating to a new dedicated hosting provider. The company is reputable, more so than the last, and RDNS is setup. SPF isn't configured, but wasn't before either. Nothing has changed except the IP, which was not black listed, yet mails vanished into the ether. Hotmail happily accepts the email with a 250 return code but decides not to actually deliver it.

A simple Perl script is used to email users on signup, and also for password retrieval. Troubleshooting from my home DSL account showed the problem not to be with the IP, but the format of the email. Send the exact same text through a simple text email and it works, sending it via telnet (trying to put in all the correct "Reply-To" and "X-Mailer" headers) did not work.

While playing around I found out two things made the mail suddenly work.

Firstly, send it to more than one recipient. Whilst I think this makes it look more like spam, Hotmail likes it. I have the sendmail "To:" line have the user's email address and also the mail-out accounts address.

Secondly, don't make the sender's name look pretty. No "From: Firstname Lastname ", just "From: ". Again I think it makes the email more spam-like, but both of these were necessary to make the emails work.

For reference the sendmail mail commands look like:

To: <user@hotmail.com>, <my-mailer@domain.com>
From: <my-mailer@domain.com>
Reply-To:
X-Mailer: My.TAG
Subject: Welcome to domain.com!

I've stopped new users signing up with hotmail accounts, but at least this precarious workaround lets existing hotmail users manage their accounts.

HTH

Anonymous's picture

Hotmail and Sympatico.ca

No, don't block Sympatico users as well!
I have a Hotmail and a Sympatico account and have the same problem with Hotmail - however, the same person who didn't receive my Hotmail messages, received the message when I sent it through Sympatico!
So, although these two email services are in kahoots, so to speak, the problem seems to be soley with Hotmail, not with Sympatico.
G.R.

Anonymous's picture

Re MSN HOT MAIL ACCOUNTS

I was so disappointed I have had the same MSN account & Password for years.Allof a suden nothing.I had several pages of e-mails were very valuable to me as I had cancer & they were sentimental & never cancelled them out & a lot of others also I lost all my contacts & everything.I think for a company to do such a horrible thing to people shows us what they are made of without letting us no they were going to do it & somehow we could have saved them
I AM WITH EVERYONE ELSE & IT SHOULD BE TAKEN TO FACE BOOK & EVERYONE SIGN IT THERE THEN MAYBE WE MIGHT GET SOMEWHERE.I AM NOT REAL GOOD ON THE COMPUTER SO MAKES IT HARD TO DO MOST THINGS.I HAVE HEARD SOME PEOPLE HAVE GONE TO GMAIL & LIKE IT MAYBE WE CAN FIND SOMEONE OUT THERE WHO WANTS EVERYONE & LEAVE THE ONES PLAYING WITH OUR LIVES TO DIE OUT