Over the last few months, there have been a few occasions where universities have been falsely identified as spammers – either because their mail sending services inadvertently set of spam detectors, or because they were genuinely being used to re-route spam mail. This problem is likely to increase rather than decrease, as so much of our daily email is categorised as spam. Yale University found out that 94% of all email that went through their own servers was spam last autumn, which is only slightly higher than the average.

Understandably when a spammer is blocked, the ISP or mail provider doesn’t tell them, otherwise it would turn into a cat-and-mouse game between spammers and email services.

So if your university email is blocked by an ISP or email service, the first you may know about it is when one of your students or staff tells you that an important email they sent didn’t arrive.

JANET have provided some generic advice on avoiding false-positives on spam detection, and my colleague Ben has provided some very specific advice on how to ensure that your university email system isn’t blocked by Hotmail or other Microsoft mail services.

Email_3[1]Ben’s is a step by step guide, with a lot of very specific links and instructions that you can follow, including a good deal of background reading to help you to understand why the situation happens, as well as how to avoid it.

Sometimes you can have your mail blocked because recipients report it as spam in their mail client (eg if you have a mailing list which includes potential applicants, and they report your newsletter as spam to their mail service provider), so it is definitely worth following Ben’s guidance, especially if somebody in your university is planning any massive e-mailshots this summer. In those cases, you may feel that it is unfair that you’ve been identified – but spam is measured through the eyes of the reader, and not everybody trusts the “unsubscribe” option, and simply ticks the “this mail is spam” button instead.