This policy change was not considered lightly.
Ultimately, we had to consider the rather large number of people who were heavily inconvenienced by the blocks that have been put in place against us - not to mention the unfair 'spammer friendly' reputation we risk obtaining even though we're anything but (we eat actual spammers for breakfast here at DreamHost - they stay crunchy with milk).
We recognize that forwarding of catch-alls to outside services is of utility for some customers, but the inconvenience caused by them going away is significantly less than that caused by (say) not having your email delivered at all because AOL, Comcast, etc. have blocked you. Slightly lessened mail flexibility is better than no mail functionality.
Really, the Internet is a vastly different place than it was when we first implemented catch-all forwarding. Spam makes up the majority of email traffic by this point, and many of the big name providers have set up (with varying degrees of well-implementedness - I'm looking at you, AOL!) strict blocking policies. We have to take that into account.
We tried subscribing to AOL's feedback loop, warning regular offenders and selectively disabling the worst of them, but even that was of limited use. We even had some people rather loudly yell at us for daring to tell them not to report spam "that DreamHost sent to them" (AOL users...).
So, after a few years of this and some gnashing of teeth, we finally came to the conclusion that we had to go to the next step.
FYI: I actually quite like catch-alls myself, and use them for anti-spam purposes (I give out tagged addresses, to track and block offenders). I don't forward that mail to outside providers, however, and never really understood the impetus for such a feature for most cases.
- Jeff @ DreamHost
- DH Discussion Forum Admin