Domains that reject Cultivariable emails

I do something that is increasingly rare these days: I run the Cultivariable email server.  This was the way it was done on the Internet for a couple of decades until a few big companies decided that it would be a lot easier if they got all of us to use their services so that they could read all of our emails.  And, to my surprise, people mostly went along with that.  Well, I still run my own.  The problem is that consolidation of all email under a few big companies has made it possible for them to essentially block email from anybody else without much consequence.  They tend to look at the rest of the Internet as a possible source of spam and block addresses rather indiscriminately.  And they often use services that maintain these blacklists, most of which are pretty good, but some of which are not.

I have a particular problem with a scam blacklist service called UCEPROTECT that blacklists large networks in an attempt to extort money from people who run servers on those networks.  Unfortunately, some big providers use this service and the deliverability of my emails is periodically turned off by those providers whenever UCEPROTECT flags some other server somewhere on the giant network that my server also happens to be connected to.  I recommend moving away from using these email providers because my emails are probably not the only ones that you are missing. This blacklist routinely lists networks amounting to hundreds of thousands of IP addresses.  You can contact your email provider to complain, but it would probably be a lot faster and easier to open another email account somewhere else.  I see a lot of customers using and email accounts these days, so I can at least confirm that those appear to work.  Not a recommendation, just an observation.  There are lots of secure email providers out there and most of them will probably be fine.  And, of course, GMail works for now, as long as you are willing to look in your spam folder.  More on that below.

If you have an email address that belongs to one of the following domains, you should not use it for your Cultivariable account.  This includes email addresses that are serviced by the same providers.  So, for example, if Microsoft hosts your email domain, you won’t get my emails because they are received by a Microsoft mail server and Microsoft uses UCEPROTECT.

This is definitely not a complete list.  It is just a list of domains that I have seen blocked in our logs.

Whose problem is this?

This is a fair question to ask.  Most companies decide that it is their problem to solve if somebody else blocks email to their customers.  The problem with this logic is that it drives everyone to solve the problem by moving to the big email providers that cause the problem, creating a turnkey surveillance society.  The only real solution to this problem is for people to stop using email providers that use UCEPROTECT. I figure that it is your problem if you choose to use an email provider that drops a bunch of your email and doesn’t tell you.  The problem is that most customers will probably never know or understand why, which means that they can’t do anything to fix the problem.  I have instead taken the approach of explaining the problem to you.  It is now in your hands.  If that sounds unsympathetic, it is not; it is just that I can only treat the symptoms, not the problem.  To actually solve the problem requires you to change your email provider.  Lots of people complain about the power of big corporations.  This is a very simple and concrete step that you can take to reduce that power.  This policy costs me time and effort and probably the occasional customer, but I think it is a stand worth taking. It is important that the core technologies of the Internet remain equally useful to everyone and do not become concentrated in the hands of a few companies that collude to monopolize them.

Why I recommend that you should not use Gmail

Gmail is a very popular mail service.  The majority of my customers use it.  It is certainly better than the mail domains listed above, in that Gmail rarely rejects Cultivariable emails outright.  Unfortunately, Gmail is very aggressive about marking materials as spam.  There are two outcomes.  Most commonly, Gmail identifies the mail as spam and puts it in your Spam folder.  The good news is that you can see the emails as long as you remember to check your spam.  Less commonly, Gmail just identifies the mail as uninvited solicitation and blocks it.  When this happens, you might never receive it.  I get a fair number of angry emails from customers who are sure that I am ignoring them, when I am actually responding to their emails but it is all going into their spam folder.

Cultivariable is not even remotely spammy.  I send emails in response to orders, in response to inquiries, and send only a few mass emails per year exclusively to people who signed up to receive them.  I also use the best practices to identify the Cultivariable email server and digitally sign our emails to show that they are legitimate.  There is no conceivable reason for Gmail to mark my emails as spam, but this happens routinely.  It isn’t hard to understand how the Gmail spam algorithm works.  If people see spam in their Inbox, they get mad at Gmail.  If people don’t receive a legitimate email, they might not ever know or might assume that it has nothing to do with Gmail.  So, people will be happier when the Gmail spam algorithm is very aggressive, even if that means that they miss a lot of emails that they would have preferred to receive.

I am not alone with this problem.  For small businesses that send a small amount of email, only a few people have to click the spam button before Gmail stops delivering mail.  There is no fix for this.  Google does not care.  I recommend that you use another email provider for your Cultivariable email address.  It increases the odds that you will receive your order emails and decreases the power of big companies like Google that break the Internet.  The next best thing that you can do is to add our email addresses to your address book.  This reduces the probability that Gmail will identify the emails that I send to you as spam, but it doesn’t guarantee delivery, as many people have reported that emails end up in their spam folder even when they are contacts and even when they create filters intended to keep the emails out of spam.

Add the following addresses to your Gmail contacts (or create a filter) in order to try to keep all Cultivariable emails out of your spam folder: Automated order emails (order received, completed, refunded, notes, etc.) Customer support emails (human to human) Mass emails (to people who have signed up for the mailing list) Automated emails from the Cultivariable forum (account signup, password changes, summary emails, etc.)

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