Validity to start charging for Feedback Loop email feeds

Email feedback loops have a long history as a component of the sending, receiving and handling of email messages en masse. I vaguely recall that AOL was the first entity to set up what we commonly think of as a feedback loop -- with their now-common process to register your sending IP addresses with the ISP, and if anybody complains about your mail, the ISP will send you a report back with the full headers and source (with perhaps a bit of it redacted at the instruction of some lawyer) so that you can count, report on, and review these spam reports. Review of that data could identify bad senders, identify bad lists, and help stop mail to people who don't want the mail. (Indeed, the Wayback Machine shows mention of AOL's Feedback Loop all the way back in 2004.)

As that feedback loop mechanism grew in popularity, various other ISPs and MBPs jumped on the FBL bandwagon. And some of them decided to outsource that function to  company called Return Path, since acquired by Validity, who now manages feedback loops for a whole bunch of mailbox providers via their "Universal Feedback Loop" service. ISPs include BlueTie, Comcast, Fastmail, Gandi, ItaliaOnline, LiberoMail, Virgilio,, Liberty Global, UnityMedia, UPC, Locaweb,, OpenSRS, Rackspace,, SFR, SilverSky, Swisscom, Synacor, TIM, Telenet, Telenor, Telstra, Terra, UOL, Virgin Media, XS4ALL, Yandex, and Ziggo. (Cox was listed as participating in this program in the past, but is no longer listed.)

Two large mailbox providers manage feedback loops on their own, not part of the Validity program. Yahoo (which now includes AOL) manages their own "Complaint Feedback Loop" (CFL) and Microsoft has a similar mechanism called the "Junk Mail Reporting Program" (JMRP).

Not every internet service provider (ISP) or mailbox provider (MBP) offers feedback loop reports. And confusingly, Gmail has an email-related reputation thing that they call a Feedback Loop, but it doesn't work the same way.

There's also Signal Spam. Based in France, they are "a non-profit association that develops a network of trust to act against spam by offering Internet users the opportunity to report any message they consider to be spam." They offer a feedback loop as well, specific to the providers who choose to participate in their program.

Until now, spam complaint message feeds of messages reported via the Validity "Universal Feedback Loop" service came without cost to the sending platform receiving spam reports. Going forward, that will change. Validity has notified registered users of the Universal FBL via email (and blog) that current subscriptions will be moved to a "free" tier which provides aggregated complaint trend data (and not full complaint data), unless a registrant chooses to pay a yearly fee going forward.

What does this mean for ISP Feedback Loops? That's a complicated question and I've given it some thought, and I'm sure I'll give it much more thought. However, this post has gotten quite long, so I'll save those thoughts for a followup.

Here's what Validity sent to Universal FBL subscribers (my copy received on September 6th):

Dear Universal Feedback Loop Subscriber, 

We wanted to inform you of upcoming changes to our Universal Feedback Loop service. Changes to your service model and login experience will occur on September 21, 2023. 

Beginning on September 21, you will have access to the free edition of our Universal Feedback Loop service. This version provides you access to aggregated complaint trends categorized by provider and group, for the last 120 days. To continue receiving Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) reports, you will need to upgrade your plan. The price will be $1,500 US annually, for up to 100,000 complaints. 

In addition, we are making improvements to the authentication process. Instead of receiving a sign-in link via email, authentication will require a username and password. This update will provide enhanced user and subscription management functionalities, and the option to enable Single Sign On (SSO) as an authentication method. 

To ensure a seamless transition to the new service structure and login experience, please take the following steps on September 21, 2023: 

To continue accessing your account: You may receive an email asking you to update your password. This link will be available for five days.  

If you do not receive an email asking to update your password, this indicates that you have a MyValidity Account and can use your existing credentials to login at

If you are unable to update your password within five days, you can request a password reset by clicking forgot password on the login page.  

To continue receiving ARF reports: Once logged into, you can upgrade by clicking the green ‘Upgrade’ button (see image below). (Spam Resource note: Image not included here on blog)

Provide billing details: Fill in your company information, billing address, and credit card details on the purchase page and submit your purchase. 

We will send another email on September 21, with additional information to ensure that you are well-prepared for the changes.  

Thank you for your continued support.   

If you are a current Validity Everest, MailCharts, BriteVerify, or Sender Certification customer receiving this email, please reply to this email and notify us, after which a representative will follow up with you. 

Best regards, 
Universal Feedback Loop team 

Update: Here's Laura Atkins from Word to the Wise with more info and her analysis of this change.



  1. Can we start calling them Paylidity now?

    1. Monopolidity would be a good alternative to your excellent suggestion!


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