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Having a perfect smtpd that speaks TLS 1.2, has properly set up dkim, sfp and dmarc records, working reverse DNS, etc is sadly not enough these days if you use a commodity vps/VM host. IP block reputation matters as well. Sadly, some other customers in your same /24 have been less clueful than you within the recent memory of major SMTP operators(gmail, office365/Microsoft, etc) and your IP space probably had a bad reputation.

Reputation perception by opaque large SMTP operators will not show up in RBLs and other ways to check for blacklists. You cannot query your IP block's status unless you happen to personally know a senior sysadmin on their mail operations teams. They don't share this information because it would help spammers choose new "clean" places to spam from.

One solution is to Colo your own 1u system with an ISP that is known to have very stringent zero tolerance abuse policies. Typically not one that is a commodity hoster.

I don't understand. Why this over-reliance on IP based reputation and blacklist? Aren't Bayesian filters enough? Or maybe people don't know how "mark as junk" works?

This is at a level before 'mark as junk', where a mail provider will refuse to deliver your message at all - or potentially even refuse to accept it. The earlier the mail providers can detect/block spam the less resources they have to dedicate to storing and transmitting the spam.

Ah, so cost is the reason why the won't let the email through at all… All those people who mistakenly think email is free… (even gmail is not free: you pay for it by letting them spy on you and sending you targeted ads).

It's actually worse than that. Gmail, msn, yahoo, et al. are far from free. Anyone that wants to email all their customers that use those mail providers have to pay into whitelists and maintain UCE response policies with them. Those costs are passed on to you, the consumer.

Most people in fact know this and assume they are being tracked everywhere and they also assume that the service providers (Google, Facebook) can read everything.

The problem is not that alternatives are too expensive, but that there are no good alternatives. I would be glad to pay $5/month to Google to get an ad-free version.

There was a recent blog post about migrating from gmail to FastMail on here earlier this week.

In my personal experience, it's been excellent. I've but using it for about a year and a half now, receiving from custom domains and sending from their servers.

Their webapp is better than Google's and it's actually the main reason why I've stayed with them.

It's also cheaper than $5/mo.

I disagree that most people know this. I imagine most reasonably technical people do, but I'd be amazed if most people on the street understand any of this.

Heh. You might be overestimating your own importance.

Huh? What makes you say that? This is not about me, this is about everyone getting spied on, and about anyone wanting to keep emails decentralised —which by the way has some import for everyone, not just computer geeks.

I don't buy into the whole 'everyone is getting spied on'. While the minority of individuals have valuable information, everything about the masses is completely predictable and mundane. There is nothing interesting about an average person, their lives are identical to others and there is no point in spying to get the information already known.

> I don't buy into the whole 'everyone is getting spied on'.

They are. At least the NSA is doing it at a global scale —thanks Mr Snowden for turning this "conspiracy theory" into an established fact.

> There is nothing interesting about an average person

Until there is. At that point, all they have to do is a nice search query into their ludicrously deep archive, so they can dig up whatever wasn't exactly average about that particular person. There has to be a trigger of course, but if you set one off, you'll be put on a watch list for higher scrutiny —at best.

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