How do you use bounce data?


AOL is looking for input from ISPs and ESPs to better understand how you handle data sent to you by AOL.

In regards to bounces – users unknown, specifically – could you please explain the following:
When do you take action on clients because of bounces? What is your threshold for acceptable, and not? Do you have an escalating level of punishment for people who break your thresholds?
What is your threshold for “acceptable” in regards to inbound mail streams and “users unknown”? What do you do when that threshold is breached?

You can send answers to me directly (laura-blog (at) and I will forward them to the folks at AOL. You can also post them in the comments and I will make sure the AOL folks see the answers.

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  • A number of ISPs use bounce rates (attempts to send to nonexistent users, in this case) in reputation calculations. In other words, if a particular mail source keeps trying to send mail that isn’t accepted and won’t ever be accepted, it has a negative effect on the reputation of that mail source.
    We all keep asking senders “why are you sending mail that the recipient does not want?” — but this is an even simpler question: “why are you sending mail that nobody will ever receive?”

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