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Valid email getting rejected as spam

Hooked
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎29-06-2020

Valid email getting rejected as spam

I'm a volunteer at a museum, I get regular email updates from them.

Suddenly the most recent email was rejected as SPAM by plusnet so I didn't receive it.

A friend forwarded it to my gmail account so I have the original to inspect.

He also first tried forwarding it to my same plusnet account and it was rejected, so I have the full reject text from him.

It begins:

=============================

avasin20.plus.net rejected your message to the following email addresses:

 

<my plusnet email account>

Your message couldn't be delivered because the recipient's email server (outside Office 365) suspected that your message was spam.

=============================

I've checked our spam settings for our account and they're pretty minimal, and have not changed in years.

The email contains one url, to the museum's website, as they always do.

I've been getting emails from this address for the last 4 years, the most recent prior to the problem was 9 June.

What's changed recently, plusnet?

 

Regards

John Maltby

 

15 REPLIES 15
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 16,677
Thanks: 6,862
Fixes: 63
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

Hi John,

A warm welcome to the forums.

"What's changed recently?"

Probably something in the email being sent to you, or the sender has become believed to be a source of spam by the third party spam profiler CloudMark.

If people who received 'newsletter' type email which they subscribed to but now no longer want mark (and report) such emails as "spam" rather than unsubscribing, then an email which looks like that one will be profiled as spam for everyone.

There have though recently been a number of false positives wherein a combination of content which if sent on its own is fine but conjoined is profiled as spam.  Similarly content sent from a Gmail account has been deem spam, but not so when sent from elsewhere.

Without at least the URL to go on, there is not much one can do to assist here.

Hooked
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎29-06-2020

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

Hi Townman, thanks for replying.

The originating id is 

admin@bursledonbrickworks.org.uk, and that website bursledonbrickworks.org.uk is also contained in the body.

What gets me though is that if I forward the original email (which I got from a friend)

from my gmail account to my plusnet account, it gets bounced! So it's not so much the originating id,

but rather something in the email itself. All it contains is that website url, plus a few for the

equivalent sites on facebook, twitter etc.

John

 

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 16,677
Thanks: 6,862
Fixes: 63
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

John,

I could not reproduce the error with that URL alone, either PN to PN of Gmail to PN.

We have seen the like of this before - a combination of URLs and / or the combination being sent from Gmail.

We need a few more clues to reproduce / profile this issue please.

Hooked
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎29-06-2020

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

Hi again,
I've done some tests, and this is the part of the email that triggers the bounce.
The links have always been in these emails, not caused a problem before.
==============================

Charity Number 1170043







https://twitter.com/BursledonBrickW


==============================
Oh. There are several GIFs with links in there.
How can I send it here?
I'm on my mobile, I'll get to my pc later today.
Aspiring Champion
Posts: 1,297
Thanks: 429
Fixes: 6
Registered: ‎22-10-2015

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

I'm amazed you can't log into webmail and white list the offending email address yourself. Seems to be a fair number reporting such problems of late.

Ever helpful. Grin Sure, I’d love to help you out. Now which way did you come in?
Hooked
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎29-06-2020

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

I have, but I can't get the originator to test yet, we're all volunteers and there's no one there today.
If I forward the email from my Gmail account, that gets bounced too.
Am I supposed to add everyone in my contacts list to my whitelist?
Why has this suddenly become necessary?
You say there's a fair number reporting problems lately - that's presumably because PN has changed the spam filter, and it needs changing back!
Regards
John
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 16,677
Thanks: 6,862
Fixes: 63
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

No - whitelisting is not the answer here. If spam prevention finger prints on content, whitelisting a sender is unlikely to help. More to the point if there is an unhelpful finger print in cloud Mark then such could inhibit the email being delivered to many on any platform using CM.
Hooked
Posts: 5
Registered: ‎29-06-2020

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

PlusNet has now fixed the problem, as far as I know, so far. See problem 

 

They say they made a change to my spam settings, but I can't see any change.

And anyway, if the emails had reached as far as my spam settings, they'd have turned up in my inbox labelled as [SPAM], and they didn't.

 

So I think a change has been made to CloudMark to stop it triggering on <something> in the emails.

Regards

John

 

Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎12-01-2008

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

I had a similar problem back in May. I raised a ticket when emails from a regular correspondent suddenly started getting bounced back to them as spam. It took Support ages to identify the issue - and yes it is to do with the cloudmark settings. But the Plusnet network folk wouldn't do anything to help unless and until I gave Support the original email (ie the one I couldn't receive) complete with headers and all the other stuff.

Each time I asked a question, it was a week until some know-nothing in Customer Support suggested I rebooted my computer or something equally senseless to fix the problem! By the time I had managed to get the original email via a friend on the same mailing list, and supplied it in the right format to the network people, and they in turn had passed in through cloudmark, they finally acknowledged the problem, but by then had already changed their cloudmark  settings, so couldn't replicate the issue.

They now appear to have repeated the issue with another of my email correspondents (a good friend this time) who phoned me to say her emails to me had suddenly started bouncing back to her as spam. Who knows how many other correspondents have had their emails to me bounced as spam without my ever knowing?

As someone in this thread has already noted, whitelisting everyone you know is not the solution. But if it takes the network folks 6 weeks to remedy each instance (as it did last time for me) whitelisting the affected correspondent is the only practical solution.  But that itself depends on knowing that your correspondent is being bounced. I am now nervous because when I don't get a reply from someone, I have no idea if they really haven't replied, or they did reply and it was bounced. 

My experience all the way through the process was that it was my responsibility to prove they were the cause of the problem. We really need to trust our email providers, especially in the present COVID circumstances. Life and business depend on it.

During the previous problem the most frequently voiced opinion/suggestion was to ditch Plusnet, and that was from Plusnet employees.

Caveat emptor, as they say. This time unless I get a proactive response from Plusnet, I am definitely looking for an alternative provider.

 

Regards

Paul Breslaw.

 

 

 

 

 

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 16,677
Thanks: 6,862
Fixes: 63
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

This is very difficult space.

It is no so much proving the issue, but obtaining the right forensic information to support investigation. There are 100’s of thousands of emails passing through the spam filters every day. Access to the original message (not one like it) delivers precise finger prints to locate the audit trail of how that item was processed.

Such matters are somewhat beyond the scope of frontline support ... which is not to say that they should not be handled better.

SPAM. Prevention is more art than science as it is performed by AI type technology; it cannot KNOW something is it is not SPAM but makes decisions based on probability. Some would rather be inundated with SPAM for fear of losing one slice of HAM. You do have the option of turning off SPAM filtering entirely ... so there is no real need to change supplier.
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎12-01-2008

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

My gripe is only partly that I have to furnish the evidence that a given message has been bounced. What concerns me more, is that my correspondent might have changed absolutely nothing at her end; rather someone in Plusnet has tweaked the Cloudmark parameters and completely unbeknown to me (and however many other unsuspecting users) the consequence is that a friend can no longer email me. That really sucks!

Furthermore, last time this happened, it was only Plusnet out of 26 other email providers that bounced messages from my correspondent. So however much from the insider's view, controlling spam might indeed be a fine art, the conclusion to be drawn from my experience is that Plusnet are making life hard relative to other providers. Whatever it is that they're doing, the other providers don't appear to be subjecting their users (and customers please note, yes we're paying for this experience) to this harsh regime where they change things and we have to sort it out.

And yes frontline support is very poor, especially in the realm of honesty.

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 16,677
Thanks: 6,862
Fixes: 63
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

Different providers have different aberrations as well. Not so long ago Gmail was getting acceptance of emails to free accounts screwed up.

Outlook.com has had its share of issues, as has Yahoo.

This is not a matter of Plusnet tweaking things but the cloud Mark technology platform which similar to AV providers learn what looks bad from across the total user population.
Dabbler
Posts: 21
Registered: ‎12-01-2008

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

Mr Townman

I'm grateful for your input; but I have the feeling that you're spending more effort acting as a spokesperson and cheerleader for Plusnet than actually addressing a very real problem that I as a user really don't need to suffer.

Last time, when the Plusnet network people finally submitted the original email to Cloudmark, they informed me that the weighting score it generated was different from the one produced when it bounced the message 6 weeks earlier. So for one reason or another - tweaking or whatever - Cloudmark was behaving differently. The network folk simply could not prove what they had had originally admitted to. In other words it was a moving target. And a bloody mess for the end-user.

As far as I'm concerned you seem to be trying to defend the indefensible. The effect is counter-productive; you're encouraging me even more to leave.

 

Regards

Paul Breslaw.

 

Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 16,677
Thanks: 6,862
Fixes: 63
Registered: ‎22-08-2007

Re: Valid email getting rejected as spam

Hi Paul,

No, not at all. I’m simply trying to explain the nature of the technology and that sometimes AI technology does get it wrong and correction requires precise fine tuning, based on evidence.

I’ve seen specific URLs which if used singularly are fine, but used in conjunction catch an ill tuned suspicious finger print. Having clearly identified such a correction was applied within 24 hours. In that perspective things are a moving target as profiling is refined and new threats (or suspected threats) are identified.

Elsewhere I’m dealing with an issue where McAfee inhibits access to a specific IP address of a known safe provider. It is very frustrating, but I would rather operate in an environment of an odd false positive than risk being exposed to risks arising from less aggressive protection.

As I said before, you do have the option of switching off spam protection entirely. See email settings in the user portal.