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French anti-spam measures dumping non-French language emails sent to .fr addresses

We have just struggled with this on the Paris fly-in emailings. A near 100% “rejected as spam” bounce rate became 100% non-bounce once the subject+message body were in French.

Interestingly there seems to be a blacklist (a bit like the RBL one) so if you hit one of these addresses, everything else gets bounced after that, and it sticks for some days. A French friend on who I have been emailing with for more than 10 years got them dumped too. For those who are into this, SPF is validated.

I wonder how this will affect PNR stuff like this:

and hundreds of others, all over the French AIP…

These outfits are not going to be getting much.

I can see this is an effective antispam policy because most spam is in English… It is about as “smart” as Gmail’s usual dumping of emails containing just one word.

I guess, use Google Translate when you email regarding PNR

Or back to this

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

… or ask for a (standard) translation on this forum, where several French-speakers are willing to help…

BTW my own internet service provider has been very succesful at keeping my mailbox spam-free, yet recently I see a flood of French-language spam. They too might have double vigilance against English-language spam.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

I am doing a mailing about the Greek fly-in and again getting loads of .fr addresses bouncing. What a strange policy. The bounces include people I have known for years and corresponded with many times.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

I had one returned recently with the following message:
5.5.0 is blacklisted by FortiGuard. This email from IP has been rejected. The email message was detected as spam.
This was interFrance with a regular correspondent.

Last Edited by simon32 at 21 Aug 06:40

Curiously, I don’t see that detailed message. It just says “rejected as spam”.

In the past, translating into French and re-emailing with exactly the same headers, same SPF, etc, converted a 100% fail rate into a 100% success rate They must be looking at the language.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Another one just bounced back:

The headers show this

and sure enough there is a fair bit of stuff online on ASSP, but it’s complicated. The curious thing is that only some .fr domains use it, notably Out of ~1500 addresses mailed, I’ve had no other rejections for “spam”. Not even from gmail which uses some incredibly dumb criteria.

A key factor, I found, was a 1 minute delay between emails. At 30 secs or less, a lot of emails are marked as spam.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Why would you expect all .fr domains to behave the same? Anyone can register a .fr domain – and they certainly don’t coordinate spam filtering, domain registrations are a completely different topic to email spam filtering.

You might want to check your SPF setup. I see this in a header from you:

Received-SPF: softfail ( domain of transitioning [email protected] does not designate as permitted sender) client-ip=;


Your SPF record is


I suspect you need to add your mail server: (or some variation)


Sure; the issue is with the major French email domains e.g. and these are hugely popular there.

I have spent a lot of time on SPF but I can’t control the IP or the name of the SMTP server which my ISP happens to use on the day. Also some destinations refuse to do name lookups from the SPF record. And if I send email from a server on a fixed IP owned by me, that is a red rag to a bull because the “fixed” IPs are actually allocated out of a dynamic IP block allocated to the ISP but they configure their DNS to give you the same IP each time. And these “ISP blocks” are routinely blacklisted… been around that block too.

The bottom line is that only these .fr domains are bouncing and they don’t bounce if the message body is in French. With 100 emails bouncing and then after translation 0 bouncing, it’s pretty obvious.

I reckon SPF isn’t used much today because there are so many problems with it. The really intelligent spam filters use signaturing across the whole inbound traffic stream and then spam is obvious. I don’t know why only some ISPs use it. At work we use Messagelabs who do this and they are excellent – at over 400 quid a year

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Peter wrote:

The really intelligent spam filters use signaturing across the whole inbound traffic stream and then spam is obvious

The good ones use a bunch of techniques, including signatures, SPF, sender behaviour, some pretty smart language analysis, feedback in real-time from user reactions to emails and so on. Gone are the days when you can point to one thing and say “that’s the problem”.

In that context, assigning a higher score to foreign language material isn’t dumb – and nor is penalising bad SPF. I can well believe that the combination, along with the occasional mass-mailing, is enough to send you over the threshold.

The only truly reliable way to send a mass email these days is to use one of the commercial providers. They put a lot of time and effort into this, and do work directly with the people writing the filters (I have a little bit of inside experience here).

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