[rfc-i] AOL rejecting mail with valid URLs

Martin Duerst duerst at w3.org
Fri Dec 3 08:38:17 PST 2004

At 15:34 04/12/03, Aaron Falk wrote:
>AOL has been bouncing incoming mail which contains URLs that have
>trailing forward slashes.

Are you are saying that they would let through a mail with
http://www.ietf.org, but not with http://www.ietf.org/ ?
I just sent two test mails to an aol address, and both came
through without problems.

Regards,    Martin.

>The bounce message says simply that the
>email has a non-compliant URL (not true) and directs the poor user to
>the RFC Editor site for more information.  Naturally, they don't
>understand what there is at our site that can help them get mail
>through to an AOL subscriber.  Our policy is to reply with the note
>attached and this seems successful at making them go away, although it
>does nothing to address the source of the problem.  We're now getting
>around two messages per week, like the one attached, from folks
>looking for help.  I think it would a Good Thing if someone could
>contact AOL and let them know that they appear to have policy which
>rejects valid email (and is not clearly documented).   Anybody have a
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>Date: Wed, 17 Nov 2004 11:46:11 -0800
>From: Aaron Falk <falk at ISI.EDU>
>To: RFC Editor <rfc-editor at rfc-editor.org>
>Subject: AOL blocking email FAQ --resend--
>Message-ID: <20041117194609.GD2878 at isi.edu>
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> >From time to time the RFC Editor receives queries from email users who
>are having mail blocked by America Online's spam filters.
>Specifically, [1] indicates that a user's email does not meet certain,
>unspecified RFCs and directs the reader to the RFC Editor website [2]
>for more information.  We have received additional information in the
>past that (one of) the actual objection(s) by AOL was that the message
>contained a trailing forward slash ('/') on a URL, as shown in here:
>   http://www.rfc-editor.org/
>The RFC Editor would like to point out that Section 3.3. of RFC2396
>[3] states that terminating a URL with a forward slash is, in fact,
>permitted.  If this is the reason that AOL is choosing to reject
>correctly formatted email, we feel it is unfortunate that they are
>incorrectly citing IETF standards to justify their behavior.  It makes
>matters worse that they are providing little information to the sender
>and pointing them, with no guidance, to read over 3000 RFCs for
>additional information.
>Sadly, there is little the RFC Editor can do about this other than to
>encourage email users to send citations to correct standard to the AOL
>spam filter maintainers.
>--The RFC Editor
>[1] http://postmaster.info.aol.com/errors/554hvunr.html
>[2] http://www.rfc-editor.org
>[3] ftp://ftp.rfc-editor.org/in-notes/rfc2396.txt
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>Reply-To: <lucho10 at earthlink.net>
>From: "Lucho" <lucho10 at earthlink.net>
>To: <rfc-editor at rfc-editor.org>
>Date: Wed, 1 Dec 2004 23:34:14 -0500
>Message-ID: <LPBBIAFNEKOPMLCHFEDCGEEOEOAA.lucho10 at earthlink.net>
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>Subject: Error 554 HVU:NR
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>dear editor:
>this is a request for clarification from someone who is computer-literate 
>but not high-tech.
>for about nine months now i have been sending a nightly (except weekends) 
>special-interest newsletter to a list of voluntary subscribers.  the 
>service is free, and opt-out--seldom requested--is immediately honored. 
>the newsletter is essentially a compendium of news items from major news 
>services.  i work as a volunteer for a 501(c)(3) organization.
>two days ago, AOL began to refuse delivery to its members, returning a 
>notification of Error 554 HVU:NR:
>SMTP error from remote mailer after end of data:
>host mailin-01.mx.aol.com []: 554-:
>this means that 55 of our subscribers have not been receiving our mail 
>(our mailings are not commercial-scale mass mailings).
>as my ISP is earthlink.net, i was stymied in calling AOL by the robot 
>that demands my member identification before it passes me to a human 
>being.  i found the information below, indicating that 554 has to do with 
>adherence to RFC guidelines. i can't say that i intuitively understand the 
>information. i tried searching your RFC database using several variations 
>of "Error 554" and settings on the right side of the menu, and got "zero 
>matches."  i note that for months now i have been using the exact same 
>list of addresses (save for an occasional addition or substraction), which 
>is embedded as a group in an Outlook form; i.e., human intervention is 
>minimal except for the editing of the daily content.  in addition, no 
>other ISP except AOL has returned mail for failure to comply with RFC 
>standards, nor did AOL itself begin to do this until two days ago.
>can you suggest what URL problem may be at issue here, how to resolve it, 
>or who at AOL may be willing to take a call from me to handle on its side? 
>why does this guideline affect AOL only?
>btw, i tried sending a cc: to 
>and a Check Names dialog box told me "No matches found" and did not send 
>out message until i removed the address from the cc: box.
>thank you.
>luis rumbaut
>washington, d.c.
>The Request for Comments (RFCs)
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><http://postmaster.info.aol.com/errors/>List of Errors>> 554 HVU:NR
>Error 554 HVU:NR
>    * 554 HVU:NR
>    * http://postmaster.info.aol.com/errors/554hvunr.html
>AOL requires that all URLs contained in email comply with the RFCs 
>guidelines pertaining to URL and domain name formatting.
>Please make sure that all URLs in your email are RFC compliant and try 
>your mail again. You may refer to http://www.rfc-editor.org for a complete 
>list of guidelines.
>If you need additional information please 
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