DMARC FAQ - Campaignion email protest setup

What is DMARC anyway?

DMARC means "Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance" and is a validation system that aims to detect email spoofing and give spam a hard time. It provides a mechanism to allow receiving mail exchangers to check if the domain of the mailserver, that sends out the emails matches the domain specified in the email address of the From: field and that neither email nor attachments got modified on the way.

The DMARC specification was published 2013 and it wasn't until mid 2015 when most of big email providers like Gmail or Yahoo implemented the dmarc policy for receiving emails.

If the mailserver isn't allowed to handle emails of the domain www.mycampaignsite.com and tries to send an email from me@mycampaignsite.com to target@some-evil.gov - the receiving mailserver of some-evil.gov will detect it as spam and if it does its work right, it won't place the email in the inbox.

What does that mean for an Campaignion email protest?

If you set up an successful email protest with Campaignion, our mailserver handles the massive amount of emails. For the success of an email protest it's crucial that the email does land in the inbox of the target.

To ensure this we use all technical means to stay off any spam blacklist and even get our server whitelisted for big mailcompanies. We do have the best rating, which means you won't find Campaignion emails in your junk or spam inbox.

After some time most bigger targets will block emails from Campaignion manually, but by then they already have a flooded inbox and you bet, they received the message.

With the DMARC policy we needed to make some changes and get authenticated custom domains to be able to send complying emails.

How does an DMARC complying email protest work?

To get the email setup to work correctly we get a subdomain for your campaignion installation. If you use a custom domain and not <yourcampaign>.campainion.org, we need a subdomain from your custom one with specific DNS settings, you'll get from us. The domain mostly will be supporter.<yourdomain.org>. Now our mailserver is the official mail server for supporter.<yourdomain.org> and hence emails from it will be DMARC compliant.

Why are the supporter email addresses weird?

Since we can't get a subdomain for every emailprovider (something like campaignion.gmail.com) we aren't able to send DMARC complying emails from the real supporter email addresses. That's why we make an email address for every supporter with the authenticated domain, that sends the protest email. If the target writes an answer to this created email address, our server matches it to the real one and your supporter will receive it.

Let's go through this with an example:

Consider a supporter called Susan Mayer, who has a private email address of susan.mayer@gmail.com. She participates at an email protest and our mail server sends an email to the protest target with "susan.mayer@gmail.com" written in the "From:" field. Now the target mail server receives the mail and reads the "From:" field. According to this field, the mail should be comming from a Google Mail server. But it doesn't, the mail was sent from the mail server of supporter.<yourdomain.org>. Because this is not allowed according to the DMARC standard, the target server discards the mail as junk.

How does Campaignion solve this problem?

We generate a new "From:" address like susan.mayer.HASHNUMBER@supporter.<yourdomain.org> and send the protest mail with this address in the "From:" field. Now the target mail server sees a match between the sending mail server and the "From:" address and accepts the mail.

But what happens when a target wants to reply to the protester?

The target can simply answer to this generated email address, because Campaignion saves a mapping between the real supporter address (susan.mayer@gmail.com) and the generated one (susan.mayer.HASHNUMBER@supporter.<yourdomain.org>) and when the target answers, our mail server receives the answer, looks up the real supporter address and forwards the email to the supporter.

As a nice sideeffect: This helps protecting the supporter email addresses too. The target is able to reply but not to collect the real email addresses!

My site sends mails from info@campaignion.org, but I want my email address! What should I do?

If you have a campaignion out of the box installation you most likely send all notification emails from Campaignion to your supporters with an email address like this. If you have a custom domain it might look like: info@supporter.yourdomain.org

If something's not right - Just get in contact with us!

However you can set a REPLY TO email address to whatever you would prefer!

What is the difference between REPLY TO and FROM Email address?

With DMARC your choice for a FROM email address is limited, but you can set a different REPLY TO! This can be set to anything, but a working email address you maintain and have access to is advisable. What does REPLY TO do? Even if the FROM email address is a different one, if you hit reply in your webmail or mail client you will reply to the email address specified in the REPLY TO field.

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