Now that I have your attention.....
FutureQuest Request for Comment & Warning
Concerning a network wide ban that prevents forwarding email TO the AOL Network FROM the FutureQuest Network.
AOL is the most prevalent ISP that is fighting spam so aggressively that it causes innocent parties to be punished for it. This issue could just as easily become apparent by MANY ISPs that offer many different types of services. If you have an email account provided by ANY TYPE OF SERVICE PROVIDER it would be wise for you to understand this situation realizing that it could just as easily affect your services from/to another provider as it is now affecting the services from/to AOL.
Because of the problems, explained below, FutureQuest recommends keeping ALL EMAIL within the network it was received whenever possible, even if it is inconvenient. This should be done to avoid blacklisting/blocking yourself and others from being able to successfully communicate back and forth between networks.
If you are not able to keep your email within the same network it was received on then you MUST be vigilant to ensure you DO NOT allow email, that has been forwarded/redirected to a different network, to be reported as spam.
Email that has been forwarded/redirected to an outside network, and then reported as spam, will cause the outside network to see the sender of the spam as you and the network/server that originally received the message.
e.g. you receive email at your FutureQuest provided email account
It is then forwarded to your AOL provided email account
Once on AOL you report the message as spam
AOL then sees you and FutureQuest as the sender of spam since it essentially arrived on the AOL Network "from" you at the FutureQuest Network.
This is NOT correct but it is what they are doing and there is NOTHING FutureQuest can do to fix/stop them from doing it.
By reporting yourself and the original receiving network (FutureQuest) as the sender of spam, you've successfully given the network you reported it to (AOL) a reason to blacklist the original receiving network (FutureQuest) which includes you and all of the others you share the server with. This is because the network you are forwarding to does NOT want to handle the spam, nor the complaints, for email that was not originally sent to their network. Therefore, the general attitude is, if you are going to send spam to our network, and then report it as spam, we are going to penalize the sender which is in fact you and the network you used to send it with.
Here's how it is currently happening with AOL.com
Sally has an AOL account and Sally has a FutureQuest account.
Sally sets up her Sally@Example.com
(FutureQuest email account) to forward email to her Sally@AOL.com
Sally checks her Sally@AOL.com
email account and finds she has received 10 junk email (spam) messages.
Sally clicks the button made available by AOL to report the junk email.
AOL's automated system reviews the email messages and sees that it came from Sally@Example.com
(because the spam was sent to Sally@Example.com
and then forwarded/redirected to her AOL.com account)
AOL's automated system sends a message to FutureQuest complaining that 10 more junk emails have been sent from our network (via Sally's example.com account) and if one more is received the entire FutureQuest Network will be blacklisted.
Sally checks her AOL email address again and sees 3 more junk email messages have arrived.
Sally reports the email as spam using her AOL Tools.
AOL's automated system sees three more junk email messages coming from the FutureQuest Network.
(again because sally is forwarding email received at her FutureQuest account to her AOL account)
AOL will scan and see that the FutureQuest mail server sent it to the AOL mail servers. We don't think they are looking at the "FROM:" address, but rather that they are scanning the delivery headers and use the prior mail hop. Overall, what they are doing is technically correct, because it is the only thing that cannot be forged, since they can record what IP address *their* mail server received that email from which is "FutureQuest" in this scenerio.
When I say "From" I mean it as "from us to them" w/o the technical use of the term FROM in regards to email headers.
end tech note]
AOL's automated system blacklists FutureQuest's mail server so that no one using that server can send any more messages to the AOL Network.
John, Tim, Tom, and Joe begin yelling at FutureQuest because their very important email messages are not getting through to their AOL customers/friends/family whatever.
Sally yells at FutureQuest because her forwarding address no longer works and none of her email is getting through to her AOL Account.
AOL will not work with FutureQuest because FutureQuest is a "spammer that has been blocked for good reason".
FutureQuest works like crazy to get the block removed (weeks or months to accomplish the task).
Sally goes back to forwarding her email...
Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Lather, Rinse, Repeat, Lather, Rinse, Repeat,
John, Jane, Tim, Terri, Tom, Theresa, Jack and Jill all cancel their account with FutureQuest because they are tired of their emails being blocked by AOL with the reason being that FutureQuest is not handling it's spam appropriately or possibly FutureQuest is supporting spam.
Sally is screaming again because her forwarding has stopped working again.
AOL doesn't want to talk about it because "it's not their problem."
[you could slip in a different middle to this story by saying FutureQuest reprimanded Sally prior to her forwarding more spam...but the end result is then that Sally cancels and is angry at FutureQuest for wrongfully accusing her of spam or whatever and not allowing her to use her account as she should be allowed to use it -- all in all the end result is still ugly]
Other scenarios were also discussed in an earlier thread if you would like to review it click here
Any one who reads the forums has seen at least a bit of how angry clients can become over spam issues. You can multiply that by 100 times to get a glimpse of what it looks like on the backside...especially with AOL's rules in place.... The difficulty of dealing with these types of issues, regardless if it was a mailing list issue or forwarding problem is that it costs us a lot of time and money to educate the client, and we are shouldering the burden - not AOL - and not the spammer.
The bottom line is this:
Whether it's via autoresponder, bounce, forwarding, redirect, mailing list (especially if it is not confirmed opt-in), or anything else that results in a place such as AOL receiving an email "from you" via any of these methods, that ends up being reported as spam, then trouble is going to be there for the network that originally received the message which includes You, FutureQuest, and all of FutureQuest's Clients.
It is now VITAL that spam messages, sent/received to/by one Network (FutureQuest) are NOT SENT in any way, shape, or form, to another network (AOL)
The SIMPLE SOLUTION is to keep the email you receive, at a FutureQuest provided email account, within that account, or at minimum within accounts that are also provided by the FutureQuest Network. By doing this you ensure that email received here stays here, and we would appreciate it if you keep "email received by an email account on another network on that other network".
If you cannot do that... then do NOT REPORT SPAM on any of the messages that have been forwarded/redirected/moved between networks.....
The basic message from AOL appears to be: AOL users may report ONLY email that is sent DIRECTLY from the spammer to the AOL Address. The AOL User SHOULD NOT report spam using AOL's tools that was originally received by an email account that AOL did not provide you (e.g. if the spam was sent to your FutureQuest email account...don't report it using AOL's tools).
Now for the reality of the situation:
A) AOL is not going to change their mind about how they are handling this situation any time soon. FutureQuest has spoken with AOL and has tried to find ways to work WITH THEM unfortunately this communication has failed. AOL has been steadfast in their policy and stated matter-of-factly that the policy *won't* be changed anytime soon.
B) FutureQuest has tried working with its clients, those that are causing the problem, to educate them about the damage they are causing. The number of problems continues to grow beyond that which FutureQuest can keep up with. Old and new clients alike continue to forward their email to their AOL accounts and this continues to result in complaints and blacklisting. (Someone has now managed to get QuestAdmin temporarily blacklisted! A brand new server that ONLY sends invoices to clients that login and request the invoices! The QuestAdmin problem is a slightly different situation in that the complaint against the invoice or confirmation email was placed as if it were a virus or scam message... This has simply become patently ridiculous and inept. AOL is absolutely "shooting first and refusing to ask questions now or later for that matter". Nevertheless, this is a result of the spam problem across the Internet. A result of their clients PLEADING FOR A SOLUTION. And it is AOL's right to handle it as they see fit.
C) FutureQuest cannot force AOL to change and FutureQuest cannot Fix AOL (well..maybe we could if we had root to AOL but they wont give it to us go figure
D) FutureQuest and its clients will NOT accept having all of their email banned by AOL; meaning no one could send a message to anyone at AOL. Not an option.
The only feasible solution, that can be accomplished in a realistic amount of time, is to no longer allow anyone on the FutureQuest Network to "FORWARD" email to the AOL Network.
This would, from the best we can tell thus far, lower the amount of complaints and risks of blacklisting by about 70% bringing the rest of the problems we're having with AOL to a somewhat manageable situation.
I'm posting this here for two reasons:
1) To further explain the problem and to warn you of the new policy on its way
2) To see if any of you have a solution that would prevent such a policy just in case we've missed something.
Notes for those with suggestions:
This is no joking matter...so please keep the thread on topic and serious.
Suggestions that would take a great deal of time/money to accomplish are not able to be considered at this time (e.g. start a campaign against AOL or sue AOL all sound fine but they would take a great deal of time/money/energy that FutureQuest is not staffed/funded enough for to pull off right now and in the meantime our goal is to keep your services up and running.)
Remember: FutureQuest can be blacklisted at any moment for any number of reasons. There are 55 complaints in the queue right now waiting to be addressed and this is a queue that ONLY takes complaints from AOL concerning the forwarding/reporting of spam from our clients to their network. No other AOL complaints or abuse reports etc are in this queue. This is a queue that is monitored and attended to every day. This is a HUGE PROBLEM and educating a client "after they generate the complaint" does not stop the next client from generating more complaints nor does it stop AOL from blacklisting us for complaints already received.
FutureQuest is out of "good ideas" and FutureQuest is out of "resources" to deal with the current situation with AOL and spam reporting.
Our last ditch effort is to make it a TOS Violation to forward email to AOL and to update things such as the CNC to further prevent it from happening.
If you have a different -realistic idea- please share it.
And be forewarned, that there is currently a 99.9% chance that a FutureQuest Network Wide "ban on forwarding to AOL" is going to be announced very soon. The only thing stopping it right now is that WE REALLY DESPISE HAVING TO DO IT. FutureQuest has been TRYING to avoid it for a long while now. It has finally reached the boiling point. Unfortunately, unless someone knows something we don't know or has an idea we've missed, FutureQuest is not able to avoid it any longer.
By preventing the forwarding we decrease the blacklisting and risk of more blacklisting by a great amount which increases the chance of all of you being able to send normal email to AOL addresses.
So that's the story... and I'm listening...
- Goliath hath taken away our slingshot