Please don’t backscatter your spam to other innocent victims

One of my lesser used email accounts is overflowing this morning, filled with very polite messages like:

Hi. This is the qmail-send program at
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.

Thanks very much for the notice, but isn’t a real “From:” address. If your email system was configured to examine the sending address, you would recognize that this was unlikely to come from my mail server. And if you’d fed the mail message contents into your spam detector, it would almost certainly tell you this was junk (if it didn’t, you need a better spam detector). Bouncing any email you can’t deliver could also tell a malicious program which addresses got through, encouraging them to try A-Z and noting which addresses didn’t bounce.

When you bounce this message, you double the amount of traffic that spam takes on the internet, and you burden yet another innocent email system who has to process and dispose of the message you should have handled. You have become part of the problem. Please be a good internet and email citizen and silently drop email you cannot deliver. Thanks.

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One Response to Please don’t backscatter your spam to other innocent victims

  1. bill_mcgonigle October 22, 2008 at 4:10 pm #

    Man, I’d hate to think spam has completely killed the DSN. I’ve been looking for an easy method to check SPF records/domain keys to eliminate backscatter but haven’t found one yet.

    Those checks notch up the score in my spam filter, so effectively most are dropped, but there should be an easy way to say, “this mail is explicitly not from its sender so I’ll not send a DSN.”

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