Email Wildcard Addressing

I’ve been using a catch-all address for many, many years at one of my hosted domains here. Unfortunately, like many people, I’m getting spammers galore sending messages as well as getting bounced messages from forged headers from the same spammers. It’s really getting out of hand.

I read some time ago about the wildcard addressing that lets you create email addresses such as or that would automagically forward to and I tried to actively switch to that approach for new addresses. However, I’m finding any number of email validation scripts on websites that freak out with the use of the plus sign (+) and either won’t let me register or I can’t login to the site after registering.

Is there any other option for creating dynamic email addresses for your domain without having to use the plus sign or a catch-all address? Maybe even a ‘.’ or a ‘-’ or just about any other normal character would work …

I’m sure I can’t be the only one with this issue …

Thanks in advance,

I found two useful sources of info on using dots in e-mail address with gmail (if you have a different provider, you may have to check how they handle e-mail with dots):

reb :)___

Thanks for the reply, but I’m referring to options on Dreamhost around wildcard addressing.

This page on the Wiki talks about the + sign option, but curious about other options:

The plus sign is in the RFC, and places that don’t allow the plus are violating the RFC. Trying to substitute something else in would likely violate the RFC. In other words, it’s not DreamHost’s fault. Those places should accept a plus sign. Expecting DH to kludge their systems to accommodate for someone else’s mistake is a tall order.


Great information. Of course, trying to point out to a web admin that they’re violating the RFC is just never going to work either …

Reading through both of the RFCs mentioned in the wiki article, I may be missing something, but it doesn’t look like they specifically address how to handle what DH calls ‘wildcard addressing’ … the adding of a ‘+’ and additional text that still goes into the same email box (DH wiki article linked earlier).

If that’s the case, DH supporting additional methods would not be against any RFC and would just make it easier for their customers.

I don’t expect them to change it just for me, but I’m sure there are others with similar problems. By allowing additional separators in this approach would allow me and others to effectively get rid of our catch-all addresses and should make an easier load on the DH mail servers… With the current solution, I’ve just run into too many websites (some of them very big names) that won’t let me use the ‘+’ sign.

It looks like most people have settled on the plus as a legal way to create wildcards, though the RFC indicates that other characters would be allowed. The downside is that I don’t think many of those characters would be a “safe” alternative for the plus. Many of those are already allowed as part of a standard address, and some of those are tokens for some other activity or script action, such as the Ampersand.

It’d be interesting to hear if there is some other character an ISP has chosen for wildcards.


I have to jump in here and say that I have the same problem. Even a lot of big sites (like Yahoo) refuse to allow the ‘+’ in an email address. I even queried Yahoo about it and they said that they don’t allow it for some kind of “safety” reasons. It’s quite irritating.

I’m just hoping that acceptance levels increase as time goes by. There have been a few places that I’ve contacted that have actually fixed their parsing rules at my request.

Glad to see it’s not just me.

I agree that many of the characters are already used commonly but I’d bet they could work through that.

Dreamhost?? Any ideas or comments?