Feedback loops for bounces

SMTPeter normally modifies the envelope address of all mails that flow through it to track bounces and other messages that are sent back. All bounce messages are therefore sent back to SMTPeter. You can however set up a "bounce" feedback loop to be notified about these bounces too.

Type of messages

The bounce feedback loop is used for literally all messages that are sent back to the envelope address. This includes the regular delivery status notifications, but also out-of-office replies, vacation mails, or error messages from servers that do not respect the official format for bounce messages. All these type of messages are sent back to SMTPeter and to you, if you set up a feedback loop.

Bounces vs Delivery Status Notifications

SMTPeter sends out messages using the SMTP protocol. This protocol allows remote servers to either accept a message or to refuse it. Refused mails are written to the failure logfile and are sent to the failure feedback loops (see diagram 1).

Diagram 1

However, even when a message is initially accepted (and thus not considered a failure), it still is possible for the other server to send back a bounce email later on in which we're told that the message is rejected after all. These bounce messages are Delivery Status Notifications and have a special format. SMTPeter recognizes these bounces, and adds these errors to the log file too, and calls your failure feedback loop (see diagram 2).

Diagram 2

Besides these standardized Delivery Status Notifications, there are many more messages that are sent back to the envelope address. These are for example out-of-office mails or vacation mails, but also error messages (like "mailbox full" or "email address does not exist") from servers that do not respect the official Delivery Status Notification format. These messages are also picked up by SMTPeter.

Because such messages do not follow the official standard for Delivery Status Notifications, they can not be recognized by SMTPeter and are not written to the error log file or are sent to failure feedback loops. Such incoming bounces are only written to the bounce log file, and are sent to the bounce feedback loops. The bounce feedback loop thus receives two sort of messages: official Delivery Status Notifications, and bounces and out-of-office replies that could not be recognized.


The bounce feedback loop is sent over HTTP POST, and the following variables are submitted:

variables Omschrijving
id original message id to which the bounce is associated
recipient email address to which the original mail was sent
mailfrom "MAIL FROM" address that was used for delivering the incoming bounce
rcptto "RCPT TO" address that was used for delivering the incoming bounce
mime The MIME data that was sent during, this is the actual received bounce message

The "ID" and "recipient" variables allow you to link the incoming bounce to the original outgoing message that was sent. The "mailfrom", "rcptto" and "data" fields hold the message that was received by SMTPeter.

More information

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