Earlier today I checked the GoDaddy email box that I use to blast out to our user’s group, the Microsoft Developers of Southwest Michigan (MDSM). Typically, I’ll send a formal invitation message out a couple of weeks ahead of the meeting. The message is sent to the Contact@DevMI.com address, and then I blind-copy all of the mailing list members. It’s worked flawlessly for years.
And, since I’m now blogging on it, you can probably guess that it didn’t work today.
GoDaddy’s mail server flagged it as spam and refused to forward it on. Specifically, the message bounced back with:
Hi. This is the qmail-send program at gem-wbe17.prod.mesa1.secureserver.net.
I’m afraid I wasn’t able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I’ve given up. Sorry it didn’t work out.
126.96.36.199 failed after I sent the message.
Remote host said: 554 The message was rejected because it contains prohibited virus or spam content
Every address included in the distribution group failed with this error, including as you see above, the Contact box that I included in the To line.
The messages that I send out are mostly text – date/time/room, topics to be covered, bio for the speaker, and so on. I tend to include several hyperlinks throughout the message directing people to a map to the building we meet in, links in the speaker’s bio for organizations and events that they are part of, links back to our site, and so on. My first thought was one of these links was killing it, but I’ve used most of these in all of the previous messages as well. I started to worry that GoDaddy had deployed some super-stringent spam filter in the last month, and it would now be a game of trial and error to figure out which link or bit of copy was throwing the flag.
As it turns out, I got extremely lucky. My first attempt was to turn the message to plain text, cutting out all of the HTML. That failed – the message was still bouncing, even when I just tried sending to Contact. My second attempt was to cut out all of the links to upcoming industry events. That allowed the message to go through.
So, I dropped all of those links, and put a single message at the top of that section saying “please visit http://DevMI.com for links to each event”. The links were on our site already – I had just been including them in the emails as a courtesy. This wasn’t a terrible workaround, especially given how quickly I stumbled onto it.
The moral of the story? If the black knight is stopping you at the bridge, just lop off his legs and move on.