How do I send out automated emails from my new website without being marked as a spammer?
October 23, 2007 4:21 PM   Subscribe

I have an idea for yet another hairbrained social networking website (which paradoxically might hit it big :-) ). I've coded most of it up on a linux server using apache, php, mysql at The hostname is registered at godaddy (which I can change if desirable). What's the minimum I need to do the following (I'd rather work on the website application logic and learn as little as possible about mail server administration for now):

1) Send automated emails using php code from that domain to users (e.g. when their friend posts a picture).
2) Receive support emails at that domain (probably just one email address for the time being).
3) Most importantly: avoid being marked as a spammer.

I think getting an email address at godaddy is the easiest way to go, but I am unsure if it would achieve my goal of not being marked as a spammer. Also, I think the 250 included smtp emails a day would be more than enough for the time being, but it doesn't seem to be a good solution for the longer term.

I'm pretty sure I could set up mail stuff on my server, but I'd rather not if I don't have to.
posted by realpseudonym to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
first thing you need to do is trademark the name with the USTPO.
posted by Mr_Crazyhorse at 4:30 PM on October 23, 2007

Seems a little excessive for sending mail from your application. Can't you just mail the notifications right out of PHP?
posted by cdmwebs at 5:50 PM on October 23, 2007

Response by poster: cdmwebs,

Yeah, so the easy godaddy solution would have me sending emails to goddaddy's smtp server which has a 250 a day limit ( You have to pay for more.
posted by realpseudonym at 6:10 PM on October 23, 2007

Maybe I'm missing something, but if you use php's mail function to send your automated messages, there's no SMTP involved. It just shoots straight out of sendmail to the destination server. I've never had a problem being marked as a spammer that way, so long as the users can choose to turn those messages on and off...
posted by cdmwebs at 6:15 PM on October 23, 2007

Response by poster: cdm webs, you are correct: there is no sendmail involved necessarily. (Doh.) Thanks. Although there seem to be a few google search results where people say that mail sent with php mail() had the mail being marked as spam...
posted by realpseudonym at 6:45 PM on October 23, 2007

I think you'll be fine. Just make sure your headers are accurate. The more detailed you are, the less likely you are to be considered spamming.
posted by cdmwebs at 6:59 PM on October 23, 2007

if i recall correctly, godaddy doesn't allow sendmail, so you need to use their SMTP server. Most PHP mail libraries support this, so it's not such a big deal.

A bigger problem is that one of the other 200 people on your shared godaddy server might have gotten the IP blacklisted by sending spam. So your mail might never make it to intended recipients. But, you should be fine for prototyping, and then get a virtual private server or at least a dedicated IP when moving to the next stage.
posted by kamelhoecker at 10:06 PM on October 23, 2007

Best answer: Getting emails through reliably is a nightmare nowadays, which is why people sending legitimate bulk email tend to end up using specialist third party services who monitor blacklists, integrate with ISPs' automated spam-reporting services, work to get whitelisted, and try to keep their servers 'clean'.

There's general technical stuff you can do to make emails look less suspicious. On the server, make sure the IP the emails are sent from has reverse DNS, make sure the email server announces itself with a host that resolves back to a proper IP, and look at using things like SPF and DomainKeys. Bog standard shared hosting inevitably gets blacklisted by someone every now and then, so the more you can separate yourself from the masses the better (your own IP and SMTP server).

Also look carefully at the emails themselves, and try to adjust the structure and content to look less spammy. There are services out there that'll let you see an email's SpamAssassin score, and you should set up Gmail/Hotmail/Yahoo!/etc. accounts for occasional testing.
posted by malevolent at 1:17 AM on October 24, 2007 [1 favorite]

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