Back in the spring some WesChat members who use Gmail began reporting increased cases of emails from some list members going to their Spam folders.
In late summer, with help from ITS, the Alumni Helpdesk made some technical changes (by activating DKIM on Lyris) to increase “deliverability” for messages passing through the WesChat list. Unfortunately the changes didn’t address the core problem.
After receiving more examples from list members, we narrowed it down to stricter sending policies adopted by AOL in April to combat email spoofing:
In our ongoing effort to protect your AOL Mail address from being used in connection with email spoofing, AOL Mail is immediately changing its policy to help mail providers reject email messages that are sent using forged AOL Mail addresses. [...]
By initiating this change, AOL Mail, along with other major email providers will reject these spoofed email messages, rather than deliver them to the recipient’s inboxes.
Where a sender’s email provider adopts a strict DMARC policy as AOL has done (and which Gmail honors) then messages relayed through a listserv that preserve the original sender’s From header will be rejected as Spam (or outright blocked, as Yahoo is doing).
Today we moved to change our DMARC policy to p=reject. This helps to protect AOL Mail users’ addresses from unauthorized use. [...]
We recognize that some legitimate senders will be challenged by this change and forced to update how they send mail and we sincerely regret the inconvenience to you.
The reason is that a strict DMARC policy adopted by AOL and Yahoo essentially breaks listserv behavior. To a server configured to honor the strict policy, forwarding through Lyris looks just like email spoofing as used by spammers. From the same technical article by AOL:
What should you do?
[...] For mailing lists, also known as listservs, we recommend configuring reply behavior to fill the From line with the mailing list’s address rather than the sender’s and put the actual user/sender address into the Reply-To: line.
Yahoo recommends the same thing. So this is what we have done on WesChat. Yesterday we changed the From and Reply-To header pattern to:
From: weschat-l <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Reply-To: Author <email@example.com>
This means that to reply to the entire list you need to use the Reply All feature of your email program, otherwise you will only be replying to the author. Your new reply message would then look like this:
To: Author <firstname.lastname@example.org>
CC: weschat-l <email@example.com>
However, as one user reported today, Reply All doesn’t populate the CC field in Outlook, which means that yesterday’s change is going to be onerous for some members. Also, the new header pattern makes it more difficult to know the identity of the sender, and in most cases you cannot determine the author by glancing at your Inbox—you need to open the message first.
It seems best for list members to decide collectively how you prefer the list to function. Judging by the feedback so far, a number of list members like the change, others have pointed out its limitations, and one member has suggested reverting to the original behavior with the idea being that members would need to check their Spam folders (however, this would not resolve the issue where providers like Yahoo do not deliver the message at all).
Your feedback is welcome so please share your thoughts on the list.
Meanwhile, if we discover any better Lyris configuration solutions we will post them here for you to consider.