Google moves gmail.com to "quarantine" DMARC policy (for subdomains)

Gmail warned us that a more restrictive DMARC policy was coming, didn't they? That warning came all the way back in 2015. They said that "p=reject" was coming. Maybe it still is -- we're not there yet, but this appears to be a step in the right direction.

Today's update: For subdomains under gmail.com and googlemail.com, they've implemented a "quarantine" DMARC policy.

Still, this change has a significant impact on senders. If you send mail with from address of (something)@gmail.com or (something)@googlemail.com through an outside (non-Gmail) email platform like an ESP, that mail is likely to get delivered to the spam folder. I jumped the gun a bit on this one -- today, this doesn't affect your sending as (something)@gmail.com.

They're not the first to implement a DMARC "quarantine" policy for some part of their domain. Apple did the same thing back in July. Mail.ru went to "p=reject" back in March.  And of course OATH (AOL and Yahoo) started this trend, implementing a "p=reject" policy for their main domains way back in 2014.

Edit: Ha ha, fingers sometimes move faster than brain. To clarify, this applies to subdomains of gmail.com -- i.e. bounces.gmail.com, server.gmail.com, etc. The DMARC policy for the top level of gmail.com and googlemail.com is still p=none. My bad for suggesting otherwise.

The 250ok Deliverability Guide

Email deliverability monitoring firm 250ok just released "the 250ok Deliverability Guide" and it provides a solid getting started point for the concepts behind deliverability, email authentication, sending reputation and best practices. It's a free download and you can find it here.

Apple Moves to "Quarantine" DMARC Policy

If you monitor these things, you might have noticed that Apple's consumer email domains (iCloud domains) -- mac.com, me.com and icloud.com -- have moved to a "p=quarantine" DMARC policy. This means that if you have an email address in these domains, your ability to send outbound mail using an email service provider or other, non-Apple email platform to send mail, deliverability won't look so good. Mail may not be blocked outright (Apple didn't move to "p=reject") but moving to "p=quarantine" means it's much more likely that your mail could end up in the spam folder.

What to do if you have a mac.com, me.com or icloud.com email address: Continue to send mail, but only from your proper email client on your Mac or iOS device.

What not to do: Don't try to use an ESP to send mail with a from address in the mac.com, me.com or icloud.com domains. It'll fail necessary authentication checks and Apple's DMARC policy will drive most ISPs to put your mail in the spam folder.

I think this is a good move for Apple and a good move for people who hate phishing and spoofing. Making it harder for bad guys to misuse your domains is a good thing.

Reference: VMG Domains List (Verizon, Microsoft, Google)

They were once called MAGY (for Microsoft, AOL, Google and Yahoo). Then came OMG (Oath, Microsoft, Google), because AOL/Yahoo were called "Oath" for a time. Now AOL/Yahoo/Verizon are called "Verizon Media Group," so we'll now call this the "VMG Domains List." This includes what you used to call AOL, Yahoo and Verizon. It also covers the Microsoft consumer webmail "OLC" (Outlook Consumer) domains, which I tend to call Hotmail or Outlook.com. And let's not forget Google's very popular Gmail platform.

Need a list of all the consumer webmail domains for each of these providers? Here you go.

Dead email domain: tesco.net

Did you know that UK Retailer Tesco offered email service? Me neither, but I'm not their target demographic. I assume they did or do offer internet service and that the email service perhaps went along with that.

Anyway, as of June 27, 2018, the email service at tesco.net is no more. Users are advised that if they have set up email forwarding, it will continue to work until October 10, 2018. If users had not set up email forwarding before the shutdown on June 27, they are out of luck.

Tesco has published a FAQ that you can find here.

What should senders do? It sounds like there's a chance a few tesco.net users are still receiving mail by way of having it forwarded to some other address. If you want to try to keep in touch with as many of those people as possible, it might be wise to target tesco.net subscribers with a "please update your email address" campaign before October 10th. There is no way for senders to automatically know what the updated address for a tesco.net subscriber will be; the subscriber will have to choose to tell you.

After October 10th, it's time to stop sending mail to tesco.net, as that mail will not get through to any real people. And continuing to send to a dead domain can lead to you hitting spamtrap addresses, if they later repurpose the domain to become a spamtrap domain. Or if they let the domain lapse and somebody else picks it up.

H/T: Arnaud Clément-Bollée

The secret to disconnecting? Email does it better.

This Wall Street Journal article points out that "disconnecting" from your always-connected online life when you want to go on vacation would be a whole lot better if SMS had an "away" message feature (as they called it in AOL Instant Messenger and Internet Relay Chat), or as we like to call it in email land, an "out of office" reply. And they're right. And your old friend email has got you covered, better than those newer technologies do.

Google Hangouts? You can set a status message but nobody ever reads it. Apple Messages? No such feature. The WSJ author suggests a cumbersome workaround to try to allow you to respond to Apple Messages with a sort of half-manual "go away" reply macro, but it doesn't sound that great.

I never thought I'd say this, but here we are: When are we going to get "Out of office" replies for SMS? I want that.

To me, this is just another reminder that email is useful. Once upon a time I thought OOO email auto-replies were uncool, but this article got me thinking, and it reminds me that I've been neck-deep in the corporate world long enough to see the value in making sure that people know immediately that you're not going to be able to respond to their request in a timely manner.