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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Many Blogger Email Delivery Problems Are Reported

We have a number of problem reports, from various blog owners and readers, about email from Blogger, posted daily in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue.

Some email, from different Blogger features and services, simply is not being delivered. The normal advice given is for the person reporting the problem to look in the "Bulk" / "Spam" folders, in the email client.

Not all non delivered email is dropped into "Bulk" / "Spam". Some email is simply "bounced" - ie, returned to the sender. Since most Blogger email is sent from a "no-reply" email address (ie, "no-reply@blogger.com"), bounced email vanishes - and nothing is done to analyse its non delivery.

It's possible that we are seeing reports about several different problems, combined.

  • Unfortunate reputation of Blogger, as a spam host.
  • Improperly setup email filtering.
  • Over zealous spam filters.
  • Righteously motivated (but still wrong) spoof filters.
  • Some unknown server based email delivery problem.

Unfortunate reputation of Blogger, as a spam host.

It's unfortunate - but many Internet services have, from time to time, treated Blogger as a spam hosting service. Though wrong - especially considering several recent improvements - some services may intentionally filter email from Blogger, as a spam host.

Improperly setup email filtering.

Some email clients may be setup by individuals, with filters which place different email in different folders. Not all computer owners have sufficient tech skills, to setup email filters - but people sometimes do things that don't make sense.

Over zealous spam filters.

Some Internet services, and cloud based email filters, may be just wrong. Unfortunately, some companies use email filtering appliances which get updates from aggregated client decisions, similar to Google+ Community Comment moderation. These filters, too, are wrong - but they will have this effect.

Righteously motivated (but still wrong) spoof filters.

Some spoof filters may see email, supposedly from "Blogger", or a blog owner - but originating from "google.com" servers, and this looks like spoofed email. This is a problem which Blogger Engineering needs to address.

Some unknown server based email delivery problem.

Blogger and Google systems do break down, from time to time. It's possible that Blogger Engineering may find some unsuspected server problem, which accounts for many of these problems.

The problem reports mention different Blogger services.

Email non delivery is being reported, for various types of email (Question #2, below).

  1. Account / blog recovery email, from "Forgot?" and other recovery processes.
  2. BlogSend post published notification.
  3. Comment moderation / notification / follow-up / update.
  4. FeedBurner feed distribution.
  5. Private / Team blog membership invitations.
  6. Other email types, not yet discovered.

The individuals, reporting a problem, will vary.

The person awaiting the email, that never arrives, may be:

  1. The blog owner.
  2. A would be reader.
  3. A team blog member.

The details needed are complex.

If you know about non delivery of important email, that should be coming from a Blogger service, please provide details about yourself, the blog involved, and the non delivered email, as replies in the Problem Rollup topic.

  1. What is the URL of the blog (BlogSpot and domain URLs are useful)?
  2. What type of email (see the list, above) is not being delivered?
  3. Are you the blog owner, a would be reader, or a team member?
  4. Are you the person waiting for the email - or is that another person?
  5. What is the email domain, used by the people who are missing email (ie, "gmail.com", "harvard.edu", "yahoo.com")?
  6. What is the email domain, that you use (ie, "gmail.com", "harvard.edu", "yahoo.com")?
  7. When did you first experience non delivery (or when was non delivery reported, to you)?
  8. Do you have any email notifications, that you can share?
  9. Have you reported the problem, to a technician who manages the email delivery system that may be involved?
  10. (If posts are involved) Do the posts, with problems, contain Blogger hosted photos ("Insert image") - or are the posts all text?

Question #10, above, is an intriguing detail. One blog owner claims to have discovered that email, which contains photos hosted on specific Blogger servers, to cause his personal email delivery problems.

My favourite diagnosis, in the above assortment, would be the "spoof" filtering issue. If this interests you, you may wish to read about DKIM / DMARC / SPF email filters.

Since it's possible that not all non delivered email is caused by spoof filters, the questions above are complex, and redundant. If this looks like a typical USA IRS / governmental questionnaire, I apologise. Identifying these problems, so the Blogger Engineers can start a real investigation, may take some effort.

We are asking for details, in a forum Problem Rollup topic.

We have a Problem Rollup topic, in Blogger Help Forum: Get Help with an Issue, where we are requesting details, as phrased above, about the problems. If you have details to contribute, solution to one of the problems may result from your contribution.

Please help Blogger Engineering to help you - and make your responses polite, relevant, and responsive. If this problem is to be identified, and you are affected, resolution depends upon you.

There is a possibly related problem, with Google Groups email.

(Update 3/11): We have reports of a problem with Google Groups email distribution, which may be one cause of this problem.

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http://blogging.nitecruzr.net/2014/09/confusion-from-email-spam-detection.html

Dude, hit me with a comment!

Helen said...

The problem has persisted on our blog for a month. I reported it on the Problem Rollup you mention almost at once, but no good news yet. Would love to hear (from anyone!) about any progress. In our case, I suspect a disconnect between Blogger and Google Groups, as the latter just never receives the post for distribution (although any other mail-to address entered in settings receives it just fine). Mystifying.

Chuck Croll said...

Thanks, Helen,

I've been watching the email problem for close to a year (I think). It took me months before I started the Email Problems Rollup - then added this post.

It's almost certainly a disconnect between Blogger and Google - just as the snafu with the Google Feed API (also December 2015) which is on us again, as the API was discontinued for good last week.

The Google Groups email disconnect is only one symptom, though. You'll also see complaints about missing blog membership tokens, and comment moderation / notification email. Every email service provided by Blogger is broken, for somebody.

Google - always changing. Not always for the better.

Mr. Mikulski said...

I don't understand how Blogger and Google can even have a disconnect -- and for so long -- when the two are the same company. We had hoped to use blogger for our school vegetable garden's blog but it looks like we'll be moving to Wordpress or some other platform soon... first it was @googlegroups.com addresses no longer getting blog notification emails, and now NOT ONE SINGLE email address domain that I have tried in the 'Email posts to...' field -- not hotmail, not yahoo, not gmail -- receive notifications either. At its present dysfunction it's a fairly worthless feature; blogger should just remove blog notifications as an option altogether...