My private email is hosted by GoDaddy and I’ve generally been pleased with their prices and service. Compared to my prior service (NetIdentity/Tucows), it is a lot better. (Soon after I switched, my dad’s email with Tucows was down for almost a week!)

One thing I like about GoDaddy is that I get a lot less spam. One of the ways that GoDaddy reduces spam is by only accepting email from servers that are properly configured. I know this because one of my friends got a bounce message and I had to work with his ISP’s tech support to get things right (and the problem was at their end, not with GoDaddy).

Anyway, while I’ve been pleased at the limited amount of spam, I do occasionally get a warning from mailing list servers (like the Squeak mailing list) that they tried to send me a message but it bounced. Lately, I’ve noticed that people on Seaside-Dev are discussing topics that I don’t recognize. For example, someone will say, “As Lukas noted, …”, and I won’t have a copy of the earlier message from Lukas.

Come to think of it, it seems that I rarely see any email from Lukas. Being curious, I went to the mailing list archive and looked at the email for the last few days. It seems that Lukas posted several messages that I did not get, but I couldn’t find any evidence that other messages were missing. This prompted an experiment.

From my work (GemStone) email I sent two emails to my GoDaddy account, both with a title of “Consultant suggestion.” The content of the first message was a single sentence:

You should hire Lukas (see since he is a Seaside expert. 

The second message was nearly identical:

You should hire Julian (see since he is a Seaside expert.

Within moments I received a bounce message back from GoDaddy for the first message (the second message went through immediately):

host[] said: 554 The message was rejected because it contains prohibited virus or spam content (in reply to end of DATA command)

After some research, I found Evan Coonrod‘s post describing his experience. It seems that GoDaddy does not just look at the source of the email, or the message headers, but GoDaddy looks at the content of the message. If anywhere in the message is a reference to a web server that is not also properly configured as an email server, then the message will be rejected!

This clearly violates the Spamhaus PBL instructions:

Do not use PBL in filters that do any ‘deep parsing’ of Received headers, or for other than checking IP addresses that hand off to your mailservers.

Refusing to accept email from a server on the PBL seems reasonable, even good. Refusing to accept email from a legitimate server that references a web site that is on the PBL seems to be clearly wrong. Why should GoDaddy let me refer people to Julian but not Lukas? I don’t mind a configurable spam filter where suspicious email is put in a separate folder, but I don’t want all email that mentions Lukas to be bounced. That is just wrong!