Yahoo! Deja Vu

I worked as an anti-spam product manager at Yahoo! for a few years, and (among other things) designed their Complaint Feedback Loop — both the initial long-running “beta” implementation, and many improvements which (for various reasons) never made it past the design phase. Then when it came time to try my hand at something else, I moved to Return Path and immediately became involved in designing the Yahoo! Complaint Feedback Loop signup interface we announced last week, in partnership with my old friends and colleagues in Sunnyvale.

I must admit to feeling some trepidation when I found myself working on this same product once again. Albert Einstein is said to have defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” — and that’s exactly what I was doing. I’d been involved in creating the Hotmail Junk Mail Reporting system — their complaint feedback loop — around 2003, and worked on a handful of others more recently here at Return Path. Frankly, for me, complaint feedback loops — from the ISP side — are very old hat.

What’s kept me relatively sane is that each time, there’s something different. We had a lot of fun talking over the ramifications of Yahoo!’s choice to route complaints based on authenticated domain rather than the last-hop IP address like most. This time, most of the industry has a better sense of how DK and DKIM work, so the questions you’ve been asking are different.

Without a doubt, the most common question thus far has been: what happens if you’d previously subscribed to Yahoo!’s “old” feedback loop? Easy: that’ll continue to work, same as before, but the signup interface hosted by Return Path won’t know about it. If you’d like to take advantage of new features like being able to check the status or make changes in the future, sign up anew via our interface and our respective systems will negotiate appropriately. In effect, after approval, your old subscription will be overwritten by the new one.

Another question is whether Sender Score Certified is required in order to sign up for a Yahoo! Complaint Feedback Loop. That’s also easy: no, it isn’t. Anyone can sign up. And for many types of senders, after you better understand and fix the source of your complaints, you’ll be in very good shape for becoming accredited by Sender Score Certified in the future.

If you have other questions that aren’t answered during the signup process, our customer service team has developed appropriate processes so you don’t have to rely on digging through business cards collected at conferences years ago. Look for a support link on each feedback loop site, or visit to submit your questions and get a timely, friendly, and accurate response.

Please enjoy the work we’ve done on the Yahoo! Complaint Feedback Loop, along with the others we’ve brought you: Comcast, Cox,, MailTrust, BlueTie, and a few more later this year. We know this kind of data is important — both to senders who want to ensure that they’re only sending mail their recipients want, and to ISPs who are trying to give their users the best possible email experience.

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