Gmail has a spam problem

blue and brown cardboard boxes

Or rather, the rest of us have a Gmail spam problem…

When running a small mail service, one thing that requires the most effort is making sure your outgoing mail is deliverable. When delivering to certain big mail service providers, if your mails aren’t supported by a strict SPF policy, don’t have DKIM signatures, or come from an IP address without a good reputation, then there’s a very good chance that they will either end up in the spam folder of the recipient, or simply won’t be delivered at all. Usually though, if all those things are configured correctly then your mail will at least be accepted (even if in some cases it may take some convincing by your recipients that no, this mail is not in fact spam).

But as a small provider, once you’ve overcome those hurdles, usually you won’t encounter too much trouble (unless UCEPROTECT has decided to blocklist your ISP’s entire IP address space…)

If you’re a medium-sized provider of a free email service however, you’ll find life is much harder. When you provide a free email service, spammers and scammers will inevitably want to abuse it. Naturally you will make every effort to keep spammers off of your platform, firstly because no-one with a responsible mindset ever wants to provide a haven for such people, and secondly because if your servers do start sending out a lot of spam, other providers will block you (sadly, the better job you do of making your servers have a good reputation, the more tempting a target it is for spammers to use – that makes it a neverending battle).

There is an inherent imbalance of power in the email space. Certain providers (such as Gmail, Outlook) are “too big to block”, whereas smaller providers are being held to an insanely high standard, particularly by those bigger providers, and if the smaller providers get blocked it can be devastating to their users.

This status of being too big to block can be really problematic for the rest of the world if they start being a source of spam…

And in the past month, 100% of the spam I have received that has got through my mail server’s spam filtering has come from Gmail accounts. There seems to be a large increase in volume of such spam that started early in December. Almost all of it is Bitcoin/trading-related. I’ve forwarded every such piece I’ve received to Gmail’s abuse address in the hope that they’ll do something about these accounts, but it seems clear that Gmail, despite being apparently good at filtering incoming spam, are doing a very bad job of blocking outgoing spam right now.

Main photo by Hannes Johnson

Join the Conversation

  1. Hi Thomas,

    Becaouse of your heartfelt efforts I have good mail here for some years by now. Doled out quite a few recommendations for Vivaldi et al. How can just saying thank you be enough? However,THANK YOU, I will say – and RESPECT! How dedicated one has to be!

    Well,, I read your GMail article, and – no offence – GMail certainly risks being viewed by outsiders as weaponizing spam. Why might they do that? Well, isn’t spam hurting those smaller services with a good reputation? Will smaller services with good reputation always know their place in the future? What about the near future? Is doing nothing an option at GMail’s?

    No one is blaming Vivaldi or GMail here! Services want to survive. Isn’t surviving to appeal to an audience? If that is so, isn’t there a risk for a bigger service – even a “too big to block” one – if its reputation is judged by its audienc “top-tier once – but no more”, that the “too big go block” service one day becomes a “no longer too big to block” service?

    In my view, Vivaldi need not pose such questions to itself. – Quite the contrary, wishing you all the best for years to come!

    Regards, christomonte11

  2. Well apparently so does Vivaldi Webmail. They’ve started a new user reputation system that requires you to activity participate in user forums before they’ll let new users have an e-mail account. According to this article,

    they say that it’s because spammers are abusing the system. So, here’s a quick way to stop the spammers; disable IMAP, POP3, and SMTP send server access. Make users have to log on and use the webmail site,, instead. Not to mention, using webmail instead of a 3rd party e-mail program does have its advantages, like keeping your contacts stored in the cloud instead of locally. Not to mention, most homes, including rural areas are now seeing a wider rollout of broadband internet access, thanks to the US government getting involved with the Affordable Connectivity Program or ACP. ISP’s want that government money. Some thing in Australia with the rollout of their national fiber build out program. Not to mention, many mobile cell phone providers have now gotten in on the home broadband game by offering fixed based home broadband over their 5g towers. So the days of needing access via IMAP, POP3, and SMTP to download and manage your e-mails to a 3rd party e-mail client are no longer necessary.

  3. I quite agree with what you said. vivaldi has brought a lot of good services to everyone, and I hope it will continue.