I would like to share views about banning hotmail.com email addresses from signing up for web hosting, domain registration or any other service.
Recently hotmail.com email addresses started to be a great problem for us. They have devised a number of 'measures' to 'fight spam' apparently, but at first we have found those to be reasonable changes and made neccessary changes to our mail services.
However as time went on, problems with customers having hotmail accounts have increased. A list of issues we have detected. i will go from bad to worse ;
- SPF specification. If you dont have it in your mail sending domains, your spam rating goes up in hotmail. spf is a dns record entry that is used to ensure the sender domain is actually what is said to be while sending emails. this is rather easy to set up. and many hosts have it. but if your clients experience problems due to this while sending emails via scripts, you will have to devise a means to get this record entered to every domain's dns record as they are created.
- Apparently they are using some third party filters too, and if you are listed in one of them, your ip range might be filtered as well. Will require some labor to get yourself out. Also as 3rd party sources mean that your emails will mistakenly be reported as spam to different mail providers by people depicted in the below 3 paragraphs, this might be an escalating issue over time.
- Customer sets her/his filter to High without paying much attention to what it does, and as a result cant receive correspondence from anyone not on their contact list. this is a horrendous situation that comes up every now and then. it is folly that hotmail 'devs' have enabled such an option directly selectable without having to pay any due attention. if you have such customers, you will have to call them to reach them, no quarters.
- Customer sets her/his filter to medium, receiving at last the initial correspondence to junk mail folder, but does not check junk folder regularly, or does not guess that your automated emails will arrive in that folder, and waits, and gets unhappy. This is also a too common issue. Your signup/accounting process will be more arduous because of that, you will have to look for signups and contact them by sending manual emails via your mail client to initiate communication.
- Some customers will forget that they have signed up with you, despite having their site active, and if they receive a correspondence from you into the year, will report it as 'spam'. This often happens with customers who pay yearly and does not have any problems with their site, and have many sites in many hosts.
- Their 'intelligent' spam filter that 'learns' what to 'filter' and what 'not'. This is your menace indeed. note that this system uses a logic devised by microsoft. And if enough customers in situations described in the first 2 paragraphs report your emails as spam, they might 'learn' to filter any email that includes your domain as url in them, a situation we have found ourselves in today. if our domain is typed in any email that is text, html, properly headered or sent as only as itself, it is filtered, not even put in junk folder. This can also happen if mischief doers do signups with you with hotmail addresses and report your initial signup emails as spam, which can be done without paying anything in most of the hosts. Also if someone sets up a server somewhere, and sends advertisements on your behalf which you have never requested to some purchased lists, your domain will be naturally spotted in those advertisements made 'on your behalf' and you will again be in that situation.
- Note that various situations described above will neccessitate that you will be continually spending some effort to be able to keep sending emails to hotmail accounts from automated devices, or even via legal pop3/smtp connections. However it is worse for business that new customers cant promptly receive their account details, which makes your company look as scammers, or long standing customers who are unable to receive important announcements, invoices, payment notifiers and support correspondence, which is worse in itself.
- The one solution to remedy all these situations is horrendous, you will have to enrich microsoft and affiliates by paying 'fees' to be whitelisted, and even after that any complaint will cost you further fees, per complaint, which makes the 'spam measures' above seem like more a means to exthort cash than a 'spam fight'. And again then there is no guarantee that you wont experience any problems.
As a result of these points, i levied the odds, and decided that accepting signups from hotmail addresses was not worthwhile in the long term, and considering banning hotmail signups.
I would very much like to read community's opinions and experiences on that matter.
Well if you are banning hotmail users because Hotmail has these imposes rules on SPF, spam, etc. that might not be such a great idea. A lot of people use Hotmail because of the webmail (just like Yahoo, etc).
It also depends on what services you are providing to what clients. For example, if I was offering a service to business people and I did not want to accept American Express because they charge a high discount rate, I might limit my business some.
It does seem like you want to change the world (or at least hotmail) - which can be admired but banning users just because of the way Hotmail works is not that great of an idea. Install SPF records and that should help some.
hotmail clients, hotmail routers, relayers etc will not be banned from the servers - ie mail traffic between server users and hotmail users will continue as normal. opposite is unthinkable as it would be hurting the customers on our side.
but it seems, as i said in the above posts, a good idea not to accept new signups from hotmail accounts.
i decided tomorrow to also contact existing customers with hotmail accounts with us, to ask them for a replacement email, if they dont have any, offer them gmail accounts.
as for changing the world to a better place, well it seems rather hard, but everyone should put a brick in the bulding.
and you know, after reading the new 'measures' hotmail/msn is undertaking in these matters, i believe that they will be helping things unfold themselves in a much different direction than they contrive.
ah well, surprisingly no other free email accounts have been creating problems for us. as for fraud, yes, free email account signups have higher possibility to be fraud, but it has not happened to a noticable extent for us.
banned hotmail signups, contacted existing hotmail signups and asked them for different email addresses. so far situation is positive and people are complying by and by. will offer gmail accounts to people who have difficulties getting other free emails.
We stopped allowing free email account addresses to be used on our order form years ago. Attempted fraud orders went down to almost zero. There are two things that will eliminate fraud orders almost completely:
1. Ban all free email accounts on signup
2. Voice verify (call them on the phone) all new orders.
The only time we ever get bit with fraud is when we don't follow those 2 rules.
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spf is not much of a bad issue, in fact it has its uses.
i just listed the 'measures' to be taken for hotmail email trafficking from easy to tedious.
as for banning all free email accounts, i do not think that is a widely applicable idea as there are many people intending serious business using free email accounts like gmail, yahoo. Maybe these should at least be allowed.
Well the big difference between Hotmail and every other freemail provider is that if you run your own server as a business, your mail is highly likely to end up in the junk mail folder of a Hotmail user, even if it's a reply to the account owner's request. I had to use a private mail addy with customers quite a couple of times when they had Hotmail addies. Not everybody knows how to put me on his whitelist, or even if yes might not come to this idea before communication troubles actually start.
indeed. the most horrid thingy in hotmail is the 'junk' settings that pop in your face whenevery you try to go to junk folder, if your setting is at 'low'. many people do not even notice that if they set it to high they will only get mail from the persons on their contact list, effectively blocking all communique.
If I understand your post, you're thinking about preventing new signups from using Hotmail (or free mail services) as their email address for signup/account notifications etc
One thing you have to remember is that allot of people change ISP like you and I (well I can speak for myself ) change underwear and as such pass out their freemail address so as not to lose contacts.
Hell, I can think of 12 people off the top of my head that don't even know their ISP email address.
Personally I'd like to see them all fall off the face of the earth, as they are nothing more than sources of problems.
But while they are in use, you don't want to run the risk of losing a customer because you force them to use an account they don't check and/or don't want to use.
I'm guilty of doing this.. I don't sign up for anything not even this site with my actual address until I verify via a couple of weeks of mail watching if spam increases.. (I use a hot mail account for that)
Long story short.. the more flexable you are, the more people you stand to make happy
I wouldn't consider blocking all free e-mail providers, especially that companies who do this often block non-free ones too out of ignorance, had some bad experiences with that, my main mail addy is a paid one from an international provider (GMX) who has better speed/reliability/uptime for e-mail than the major ISPs here in Switzerland, but they also offer free accounts and thus they get on such "blacklists" (VERY dumb IMO).
But I'd definitely consider not to allow people to sign up from a hotmail addy, not because it's free but because it's got filters that put all the legit mail into the junkbox (or delete it outright) and deliver only the spam to your inbox. The second part is bad enough, but the first part means that I simply can't communicate with people using a hotmail addy, and that's just pointless.