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Why the Bounce Default Email Setting should not be used

Why are auto-responders (and delayed bounces) bad?

Lately, more and more people find their system's auto-responses and bounces are being reported/identified as spam. The reasons for this are simple - autoresponders are sending mail to people other than those who triggered them. The recipients of these responses rightly consider them unsolicited. In extreme cases, sites may be "bounce-bombed" with misdirected mail.

There are two main causes of this currently: viruses and spam. Frequently, both viruses and spam send their messages with forged (but valid) "from" and/or "reply-to" addresses. When these messages are sent to auto-responders or invalid accounts, the responders happily reply to the forged address. These misdirected replies are unsolicited to the recipients of them, though they may seem otherwise to the sender.

In most cases, autoresponders are unnecessary. Even vacation messages are frequently seen as an annoyance. Certainly messages which simply say "your message has been received" and little else are unnecessary. Unless you can somehow ensure that your auto-responses don't send mail to forged email addresses, it is recommended that you disable them entirely.

In the case of bounces, mailservers should be configured to reject mail during the initial receipt, not after the fact. By rejecting during the "smtp conversation", mail servers can prevent the objectionable email from entering their network in the first place. Misdirected bounces cease to be a problem.

Spamcop.net adds:

Q: Why not filter out bounces? A: Originally, SpamCop made attempts to forgive misdirected bounces messages - to reject them as evidence of spam. However, there are two factors conspiring to force us to rescind this policy. First of course, is that these misdirected messages *are* spam as we define it (Unsolicited Bulk Mail). They are objectionable to recipients and can even cause denial of service to innocent third parties. Second and more disturbing is that spammers have taken advantage of this policy, disguising their spam as bounce messages in order to avoid SpamCop. This cannot be permitted, so once again the spammers poison the well of trust and good will.



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