Yahoo Mail SucksOh frabjous day!

At long last, I have managed to figure out why Yahoo enjoys rejecting lots of mail that is sent to its users.

You have probably encountered this problem before, especially if you happen to manage any kind of mailing list that sends HTML messages to even one or two people with Yahoo e-mail addies.

Yahoo bounces messages back at you with the message, “554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons.”

What gives?

You’re going to LOVE this.

For ages now, I have struggled to figure out why Yahoo just loves rejecting perfectly valid bulk HTML e-mails that every other service out there – including GMail – accept without a problem.

When you get bounced messages from Yahoo, the return mail contains something like the following rejection message:

Remote-MTA: dns; ( Diagnostic-Code: smtp;554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit [120] X-PowerMTA-BounceCategory: policy-related

So, you click the above link. You see the following explanation:

If the content of a message you’re trying to send violates Yahoo Mail policies, you’ll receive an SMTP error or bounce message containing “554 Message not allowed – [PH01] Email not accepted for policy reasons [120].” For example, it’s against Yahoo Mail policy to send phishing attempts.

Well, WTH?!  You never send phishing attempts, or spam, or anything of the sort!

So, you contact Yahoo. Crickets.  You contact them again, sign up for their Anti-Spammy SuperDuper Approved Sender List Thingy, etc… All to no avail.  At this point, you might start to become rather suspicious.

Now, I can’t prove this, and it certainly isn’t a scientific analysis… But I have been paying attention to what mails are rejected by Yahoo, and what mails are not for well over a year now. Yahoo users may receive mail for weeks, and then BAM! It starts rejecting all mail, and the only option is to unsubscribe your dear users from your newsletter – and wait…

They may sign up again, and it will work – for awhile. Rinse and repeat.

PhishingIt turns out that the key to this problem is the phrase “phishing attempts”.

Next time you send out a newsletter, include one or two of the following:

  • Bank
  • World Bank

Be sure that the words are hyperlinked to any site.

VOILA! Yahoo rejects your newsletter!

You see, phishing is when spammers send you an e-mail that looks like, say, an official communication from your bank. The word “Bank” or maybe “Unlock your account” or something like that is hyperlinked, but not to your bank. It’s a scam, and the link actually points to the spammer’s nefarious website, where the unfortunate clicker will be encouraged to give all of his/her personal data so the scammers can steal it.

I’m sure you see the problem here.

As I mentioned, GMail has no problem with e-mails that contain Bank and World Bank hyperlinked to some news site, for example. But Yahoo certainly does!

Just to note, the newsletter I manage is not sent from a dedicated server that has deliverability issues; it’s sent from Mandrill, aka Mail Chimp, and our overall rating is “Excellent” with a tiny tiny Bounce/Spam Rate.

I’ve concluded that there is a reason why Google is kicking Yahoo’s ass. The reason is that Yahoo’s service really sucks. Their phishing detection is clearly quite stupid.

Other services like GMail are probably examining the context of the message in which World Bank is hyperlinked, so they can very easily tell if it’s a real phishing scam, or a valid newsletter from a site that contains the phrase “World Bank” linked to a news story on a mainstream media site.

Of course, that makes Yahoo’s phishing detection even more pitiful, because apparently it doesn’t even look at the reputation of the site that is linked to!

What’s the solution?

Well, you could stop reading the news or sending newsletters, but my solution is to encourage people to stop using Yahoo Mail. Problem solved.

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