phpBB sent emails considered as spam


I use a phpBB forum at my DH account.

When I send emails (emails as such, notifications, …), these are often considered by other providers’ (quite a few) MX servers as spam and get bounced back or are simply not delivered (the mechanisms are known).

Concerned IPs are:

I know that phpBB sports the feature to use external SMTP servers. However I would like to stick to the DH servers.

I use several phpBB forums at different other providers. I don’t face this problem for any of these providers.

Does DH provide SMTP servers which are not considered as spam source by other providers ?

Spam filters are a mess, there are so many reasons for messages to be refused and it’s not fun to operate a forum this way …

I’d suggest you to use Mailgun or other similar services: depending on how many messages you need to send, it may be free and these provide a lot of advantages over a simple SMTP server.

The point is that I use the same forum (phpBB3) with other providers, and I am not facing any of these problems. Virtually every MX server I’m trying to access responds with a message like …

<@.>: delivery temporarily suspended: host mx..[...]
refused to talk to me: 554-mx.
.* 554 Your access to this mail system has
been rejected due to the sending MTA’s poor reputation. If you believe that
this failure is in error, please contact the intended recipient via
alternate means.

This is a DH issue. They should provide another SMTP server access (short term), or better check their outgoint emails in order to raise their SMTP server’s reputation (long term).

Again … other providers’ SMTP servers don’t have this reputation and emails go through!

This looks like an issue with DreamHost SMTP server and that particular recipient’s SMTP server: the recipient uses a sort of blacklist that assigns DreamHost SMTP a bad reputation.

This stuff happens all the time, blacklists are this way and some SMTP servers are better than others. That’s why Mailgun and others are becoming so popular.

If you share which blacklist that server is using we can try have DreamHost SMTP server removed from it.

But again, DH is top listed. On none of my other SMTP accesses, I have blacklist issues.
This sites confirms it on a daily basis (emails I get):

Sure, I can share the MX servers FQDN and IP, but I don’t know which blacklist they are using. Also, this would just be a workaround, no solution since it is probable that these DH SMTP servers are indeed used to inject spam to the Internet.

DH should provide “clean” (= not blacklisted, properly checked for spam, …) SMTP servers to their users.

BTW, are you (smaffulli) DH staff?

We try to do that for email users, which is not the same as automatic bulk emailers via scripts, like phpBB. The email team constantly works to get DreamHost SMTP removed from blacklists but you have to know that this is a whack-a-mole game, there will always be hits and misses.

I work at DreamHost but I am not part of the email team, and I’m not speaking for them. When I managed my own SMTP servers I simply removed the possibility to send bulk emails from scripts because it was just too open to abuse. Think about the thousands of sites powered by WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, phpBB and co. get hacked every hour… all of them are implicitly authorized to send bulk emails. It’s a miracle to me that SMTP servers are still accepting any email at all :slight_smile:

That said, the best solution I can offer is not to use DreamHost SMTP servers via scripts. The workaround I suggested is free (or very cheap) and very effective at email deliverability.

I suggest you also to open a ticket with DreamHost support because from the forum there is a limited amount of things we can do (besides relay this thread to the internal tickets).

Thanks a lot for you answer.

You say that the best solution is not to use DH SMTP servers. This implies already that there are problems with these servers as opposed to other providers’ SMTP servers not having such issues (which I can confirm). How do these providers handle these span issues.

Do you mean I should use Mailgun i.s.o. DH SMTP servers. What do they do differently to make it work properly?

Ticket with DH opened.


Please don’t try to extrapolate implications from what I wrote. I never implied that DreamHost SMTP is better than some or worse than others. I said that all email providers get occasionally blacklisted. It’s a fact of life. All your experience says is that you’ve been lucky.

Not just instead of DreamHost SMTP servers: I suggest to use dedicated services to send email in general! SMTP as a protocol (in general) has problems :slight_smile:.

Keeping it simple: Mailgun, Elastic Mail, and many others have built their business focusing on just sending emails. They don’t deal with receiving email which means analyzing for spam/virus and storing Gigabytes of content per hour. These services are laser-focused on doing one thing and do it well. Hosting providers like DreamHost instead offer email (for free, in DH case) while doing a whole lot of other stuff.

This confirms that DH doesn’t do it as good as Mailgun and other providers. But anyway … I have to live with it apparently.

I might have found the solution. My local provider (which is also not focussed on email sending) accepts sending mail via a “hidden” port. Since his reputation is very good, first tests revealed that so far 100% of the emails arrive at the destination.

Hence, the problem seems to be soved.

Thanks for all your explanations.

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