Email servers: how not to do it

I run my own mail server. I don’t consider myself an especially skilled administrator, so I shouldn’t point fingers. However, in recent weeks I’ve had the following experience more than once.

  1. A delivery-failure message arrives from an unfamiliar host.
  2. The (quoted) orginal message is nothing I ever sent.
  3. The recipient is unfamiliar to me.
  4. The “sender” of the original message is an email address I control, but not one I ever send mail with.
  5. OK, so this is backscatter.
  6. I email the postmaster suggesting they learn how to avoid sending it.
  7. The message to the postmaster bounces back because of some server misconfiguration.

Argh! Nothing spoils the catharsis of a good complaint like a bounce.

I trust that most of these servers will disappear over time, given that they already are showing signs of neglect. So maybe that’s the happy ending! A bit too deferred for me, though.

Mark commented :

Mail and junk issues like this really are frustrating and there aren’t any foolproof solutions considering how any fool can start their own mail server ;)

I’d recommend also sending the complaint to the netblock owner - should point you in the right direction.

Donald commented :

We have been experiencing backscatter to our comcast email accounts. The worst part is that the edress becomes flagged as spam for legitimate emails, so they are not delivered, and email is not delivered to us. Comcast is no help. Not sure what to do.