Email Notification Problems

I finally figured out the problem with email notifications. I’ve been told many times by my most faithful reader that email notifications aren’t working, and that problem is showing up on other people’s blogs, too. I, on the other hand, haven’t been having a problem with it.

As it turns out, the problem occurs when someone with a non-bbhcsd.org email address tries to sign up. The email gets sent to their address from our web server, but since there’s no reverse-DNS entry for the web server, the remote mail server rejects the message. In simpler terms, our web server tries to make a connection with, say, Roadrunnner’s mail server. It says, "I have this message from bbhcsd.org." Roadrunner looks up the address that our web server is using, and sees that it’s not bbhcsd.org. In fact, it’s Lnoca.org. So it says, "I’m not going to talk to you, because you’re not bbhcsd.org."

There are two fixes to this. One is to set up pointer records in the DNS system for our IP address, so that reverse lookups resolve correctly. This is pretty complicated because it involves changes on our system, Lnoca’s system, our external DNS providers, and DAS in Columbus (Lnoca’s Internet service provider). The odds that this will happen are pretty low.

The other alternative is to not send email from our web server. Instead, have the web server send the email through (*gasp*) our mail server. Since the pointers and reverse DNS records are already configured for the mail server, this should fix the problem.

Unfortunately, telling the web server to send mail through the mail server is much easier said than done. But we’re working on it….

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Author: John Schinker

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