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What the gmail is going here?
September 15, 2010 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Why would my completely filter-free gmail NOT be accepting emails from a particular source?

Just starting grad school and it's occurred to me I've been missing a bunch of mass emails from the department's secretary. She claims she's double-checked and that my email on her list is the correct one, and that she has received no notification of the dropped emails at her end. I simply have not received a few key emails from her, and am pretty sure that this isn't happening with any other senders.

I am currently running no filters on my gmail (except for whatever defaults may be in place, anti-spam etc).

My gut tells me the problem's at the school's end. But just in case, is there something at my end that could be the problem? I'm using a MacBook -- OS X Version 10.5.8
posted by philip-random to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
Gmail does a lot of spam-filtering by default. Mass emails are a common trigger. If you add the email address that the mass emails are coming from to your own address book, the emails should get through.
posted by echo target at 10:44 AM on September 15, 2010


Google filters some stuff before it even gets to your account. Things disappear into the void. There's no bounce message, no fail message, no landing in the bulk mail folder (if there is one), it just doesn't make it through.
posted by galadriel at 10:45 AM on September 15, 2010


Google filters some stuff before it even gets to your account. Things disappear into the void. There's no bounce message, no fail message, no landing in the bulk mail folder (if there is one), it just doesn't make it through.
posted by galadriel at 1:45 PM on September 15 [+] [!]

Can you source that?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Have you looked in the spam folder? Search for them, select and click "Not Spam" and they should go through from then on.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:12 AM on September 15, 2010


Spam filtering works in two levels, generally; one is at the server level, where mail from blacklisted IPs is blocked before you ever see it. The second level is that of the spam filters in your mailbox.

Check your spam folder for the university emails; attachments and html in messages from a new-to-your-inbox source can flag the email and get it diverted.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 11:22 AM on September 15, 2010


She claims she's double-checked and that my email on her list is the correct one

Can you ask her to triple-check?

If you email her, can she respond? Does that go through?
posted by inigo2 at 11:25 AM on September 15, 2010


There's a good chance one of the SMTP relays on the university side is dropping the emails. Sometimes they have pretty arbitrary requirements for header information and whatnot, and it's possible that the client the lady is using has a quirk that creates some sort of invalid header information when sending to your address. I highly doubt GMail is involved in any way, shape, or form. If she has contact with network people on her end, get her to ask them to check logs about any emails that might be being dropped or stuck in the queue from her address.
posted by Slitherrr at 11:36 AM on September 15, 2010


Google filters some stuff before it even gets to your account. Things disappear into the void. There's no bounce message, no fail message, no landing in the bulk mail folder (if there is one), it just doesn't make it through.

This has been my experience with trying to email my one-time employer who was in a university setting, and this was with one-on-one emails and not mass emails.

I did a lot of farily rigourous testing [had him email me from different accounts and to different accounts, from different computers, etc]. My conclusion, such as it was, was that there was something strange that was happening with the difference between his employer@mail.college.edu address and conversion to the employer@college.edu address. Add to this that his college was part of a system and so his email address looked to me like employer@college.edu but the mailserver sees him as employer@college.biggercollegesystem.edu. So there was some part of his emails coming from the latter address [i.e. with the college.biggercollegesystem.edu address] but claiming to come from college.edu] that activated gmail's DIESPAMMERDIE mode.

I seriously checked my spam filters. I seriously tried to whitelist the address. I tried to forward the emails that he sent to my non-gmail account to my gmail account and they still died/dissolved.

At some point I just decided it was easier to have him email my non-gmail address and have me pick up the emails there. I have been able to receive other emails from people at college.edu so this has always confused me, but maybe they don't have the gerryrigged college.bigcollegesystem.edu hack in place. I'm sorry this is a long way of saying "I din't know but it happened to me too" but it has.
posted by jessamyn at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2010


I've checked my spam folder. Nothing there.

Her direct emails to me come through fine, as do mine to her. The issue seems to be only with the mass emails. To which end, I have done the trick that echo target advised (adding her address to my contacts) but unfortunately she's now out of her office so I haven't been able to check if this accomplishes the fix. That said, she will be conducting a few tests tomorrow to see if anyone else is experiencing my problem.

Otherwise, thanks all for the responses. As I suggested up top, my IT background (not entirely limited) tells me that the bug (or whatever) is at her end. I'd just like to be as sure of this as possible before insisting as much.
posted by philip-random at 12:17 PM on September 15, 2010


As a former sysadmin I'd go for misconfigured SPF in sender's system. It looks like that especially in Jessamyn's case.

Gmail is using SPF for incoming mails (you can see for yourself by lines like this:

Received-SPF: neutral (google.com: 217.153.177.166 is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of xxxx@yyy.com) client-ip=217.153.177.166;
Authentication-Results: mx.google.com; spf=neutral (google.com: 217.153.177.166 is neither permitted nor denied by best guess record for domain of xxxx@yyy.com) smtp.mail=xxxx@yyyy.com


in view original mode in gmail).

One might guess that if Gmail spam-filter system decide that Received-SPF is negative mail gets silently dropped.

I'd report the problem to IT guys.
posted by przepla at 12:20 PM on September 15, 2010


I can't offer an answer, but fwiw I used to telecommute, and part of my job was to collate weekly reports from various staffers and then send one mass email with one document of these reports. I had a gmail account for this task, and I almost never - honestly about 99% of the time - received my own copy of these reports, though I always included my own email in the recipient list. I never was able to rectify or explain it, but I wonder if something similar was happening?

Like I said, this is just a fwiw, but it's not just you.
posted by AthenaPolias at 8:26 PM on September 15, 2010


Can you source that?

We've[*] tested with mailings to our own gmail accounts when it seemed things weren't going through. Mass mailings or sometimes even just single emails sometimes vanish into the void, for no discernible reason. They don't even make it into bulk mail folders, definitely don't trigger a bounce message. They seem to meet criteria for passing through, and some are even personal emails that shouldn't trigger anything. When we're particularly paying attention because we're sending the email to a known gmail account specifically to see what happens, it becomes pretty obvious.


[*] By "we," I mean hubby the sysadmin did it while I sat over here and listened to him be frustrated.
posted by galadriel at 4:51 AM on September 16, 2010


The issue seems to be only with the mass emails.

This could be an issue with the distribution list she's using, or a problem with the University's mail firewall. I'd have her contact the IT department to investigate that aspect further. Some mail firewalls (like barracuda, etc) can drop emails without notifying either party if they're configured to do so for suspected spam.

Their IT department may also be able to review any limiters on distribution lists and how large they can be. Either way, your best bet is getting someone technical on that side to look into the issue.
posted by samsara at 7:07 AM on September 16, 2010


As a short term "fix" one thing you could do is to get another free email address somewhere that doesn't have any problems receiving the mass mailing, and then forwarding that address to your gmail account.

It's an ugly, hack solution, but used temporarily while trying to sort out the actual issue, it will allow you to get the messages in the meantime.
posted by quin at 10:15 AM on September 16, 2010


Okay. So the problem is now officially department related (ie: at her end, not mine). I.T. has been called and, if requested, I'll forward some of info here.

Thanks to all.
posted by philip-random at 7:26 PM on September 16, 2010


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