I got a message saying something I sent was blocked as spam - why?

To protect our email system, Boreal scans outgoing messages for spam content.  If our system detects spam in a message you send, your message will be blocked and you'll receive a notification from Boreal.  This notification will contain a spam report to help you determine why your message was blocked, and help you get your message through if it was mis-identified.

Unfortunately, the spam report isn't always as helpful as it could be, so this page has been created to help you interpret the report to determine why your message was blocked and how to modify it to prevent this.

You may also forward your notification to us at support@boreal.org, and we'll help you determine the problem.

The report lists a set of rules your message triggered along with their scores and a brief description of the rule.  When the total score of all these rules is 6 or above, the message is blocked.  Therefore, you want to look at the scores on the rules and try to get your total score under 6.  Check the high-scoring rules first - fixing just one of these is usually enough to get your message past the filters.

Common rules you may see and how to fix them:

  • n.n URIBL_XXXX  Contains an URL listed in the XXXXXX blacklist  [URIs: xxxxxx.xxxx] (NOTE: There are several rules that start with URIBL_.  The n's and X's will be replaced with information specific to the rule that hit.) : Your message included a reference to a blacklisted website.  Blacklisted websites are sites that are known to commonly appear in spam messages, and rarely appear in legitimate messages.  Look at the URI shown in the []s (ex. [URIs: store.com]).  Then search your message for a reference to this website and take it out before sending the message.

    This rule usually shows up when you are forwarding something you've received from a newsletter or joke list.  The best way to get rid of it is to just copy and paste the part of the newsletter you want the person to see, rather than sending the whole thing.  Usually the problem website reference is in one of the ads included with the newsletter.


  • -0.5 ALL_TRUSTED   Passed through trusted hosts only via SMTP : This is a GOOD rule - note the negative score of -0.5.  This indicates that your message was sent from a trusted system and it brings your overall score down.  You WANT this rule to hit!


  • 0.0 HTML_MESSAGE  BODY: HTML included in message : All this means is that your message wasn't in plain text.  Since it's common to send messages in rich text this rule has a score of almost 0, and therefore does not need to be a concern.  It's not what pushed your message into the spam category.


  • 1.3 MISSING_SUBJECT: Missing subject header:  Your message didn't include anything in the subject.  Type anything in the Subject of your message to avoid this rule.


  • n.n DATE_IN_PAST_xx_xx or DATE_IN_FUTURE_xx_xx:  The date and time on the message is different than the actual date and time by a significant amount.  Usually this happens because the clock on your computer is set to the wrong date and/or time.  To avoid hitting this rule, double-click the clock in the lower right corner of your screen and make sure the date and time are correct.  This rule can also be triggered if you send your message some time after you composed it - for example if you wrote the message and hit the Send button but the message didn't go out, and then a few hours later when you went online the message was sent.


  • 3.0 NO_BODY2_BA Email with no body : Either you sent an empty message, or your message included an attachment with no text.  Simply include some text in your message to keep this rule from hitting.  (Both spam and viruses are commonly sent as attachments with no text.)


  • 4.0 POSS_JOE_JOB_BA POSS_JOE_JOB_BA : This shows up if you forward a message that was returned to you - for example if you sent a message to the wrong address, it came back, and you're forwarding the message that was returned to the right address.  Re-send the original message (you'll find it in your Sent items) instead of the returned message to avoid this.

    Why are these flagged?  Returned messages being forwarded on look just like returned joe-job messages.  (A joe job is where a spammer sends messages using your email address as the forged return address.  When his messages go to bad addresses they're returned to you, not him, since he forged your email address as the returned address.  This results in you getting lots of Returned messages for email you didn't send.)