Not receiving Yahoo FBL Confirmations? What to do

ISP Feedback Loops (FBL) are valuable for email senders and email service providers (ESPs). It provides valuable information on who is complaining about your mail. Not only does it (usually) allow you to unsubscribe people who complain, preventing them from lodging any additional black marks against your sending reputation, but it allows you to roll aggregate stats that can tell you which lists or list segments are causing your deliverability problems. List two has a 150% higher complaint rate than lists one and three? Then list two needs some attention, and quick, before those complaints cause you to get blocked or sent to the spam folder when attempting to send to Yahoo subscribers.

Signing up for the Yahoo FBL is a pretty straightforward process. You just submit your new domain to Yahoo via their Yahoo's ISP Feedback Loop form, along with some simple information about who you are and where complaints should be sent. As the final step, Yahoo will send an email message containing a verification code to the "postmaster" mailbox at the domain you are attempting to register. This proves that you have control over the domain, and that you're not trying to sign up somebody else's domain without their knowledge or consent.

Yahoo requires that you receive this email message, retrieve the verification code, and paste it into the Yahoo FBL registration form.

Sometimes folks don't receive that important email message, and are then unable to complete the FBL registration. If that happens, here's what to do.

In almost every instance where I hear of someone not receiving a Yahoo FBL verification code email, it has been due to one of two problems:

  1. You can't actually receive any mail at that postmaster address, so the verification code email is bouncing. This is easy to test. Go to an outside email client (Yahoo or Gmail), and send a message to postmaster@ (your domain). Does the message bounce? Does the message reach you in the inbox? Does it go to a mailbox that you can access? If you can't find this message, you've got a problem to fix before you can sign up for the Yahoo feedback loop.
  2. Your mail server is rejecting the verification code email message because the from line used by Yahoo is too long. In particular, this affects users of the PowerMTA platform. Laura Atkins explains why this happens and how to fix it, over on the Word to the Wise blog.

This is a question I get asked fairly regularly, so I hope you find this little blog post on the topic to be useful.

Note: To participate in Yahoo's Feedback Loop, there is a prerequisite: You must authenticate all mail by signing it with DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail). Keep in mind that your email platform must sign the mail with the "d=" and that complaints will not be sent about any messages that lack a DKIM signature.

Additional Note: From talking to folks at multiple email service providers, it sounds as though Yahoo does not always send back all complaints. I don't have information on why that is, but I would consider it a "fact of life" and something senders just have to deal with, from what I am hearing.

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