Why You Shouldn’t Send Out of Office Replies

I run email services for my website clients. Despite my recommendations against setting Out of Office Replies on email accounts, some still do so. Judging by the number of Out of Office Replies that I get from other people, it seems that this practise is still widespread. So why do I recommend against it?

The main reason is spam. The second reason is spam and the third reason is also spam. What do I mean by this?

When you set an Out of Office Reply, the reply message gets sent as an automatic response to the sender of every email you receive. That includes spam emails. There is no discrimination. This creates a number of problems for you.

Send Me More!

You have immediately confirmed to the spammer that yours is a valid email account. Spam email is not just about trying to sell you Viagra or similar. Some spammers are trying to detect valid email addresses. They broadcast junk messages to email addresses that they’ve made up on the assumption that some of them will be valid.

Out of office replies are an excellent way for them to confirm to them that an email address is live. They then add that email address to a list and eventually sell the list on to dubious internet marketers who will send out all those spam, Viagra and similar, emails.

Sending Out of Office Replies effectively says to spammers “send me more”.

I’m a Spammer!

A lot of spam emails have spoofed sender addresses. Out of Office Replies get sent back to that spoofed sender address from your email account.

If that address is not valid, the Out of Office Reply will get bounced back to you as undeliverable.

If it’s a valid address the recipient is going to see the message from you and, knowing that they never sent you anything in the first place, treat the message as spam. They may even report it as spam to one of the blacklists that are in operation.

Sending Out of Office Replies advertises to people that you could be a spammer.

Kick Me Off my Mail Server

All those messages bouncing back and forwards between your email account and others will eventually come to the notice of your mail server manager who will start to treat your account with suspicion and, in the extreme, could even ban you from the server.

Sending Out of Office Replies is a great way to p… off your email server manager.

What do I recommend when you’re out of the office?

  • Compile a list of the key people who need to know that you’re out; clients, suppliers, friends, and relatives.
  • Set up an email distribution list with their addresses.
  • Then, each time you’re going to be away, send them a simple email saying so and giving the date when you’ll return etc.

Follow my advice and will inform the people who need to be informed and keep the spammers and chancers in the dark where they should remain.


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Written by
Mike Brogan
Mike is a website developer specializiing in website design, online marketing, ecommerce design, and consutancy. He has developed website for clients for over 20 years.

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