Skip to:

Activation Email Intermittent Failures

  • Hey BuddyPress community,

    I’m experiencing a recent prevalence of failed activation emails with my BuddyPress installation. I am not an expert with PHP mail() or other SMTP issues, and I would love some advice on how better to diagnose the issue. Here is some relevant info:

    • WordPress 3.8.1
    • BuddyPress 1.9.2 (also in Trunk)
    • Nginx + PHP5.5 + Memcached
    • Google Apps email handling

    My site is experiencing a period of very high growth, with between 150-200 attempted user registrations each day. On a typical day, most of these are successful. Activation emails are sent without a hitch, and accounts are activated normally. However, around 40-50 attempted activations are failing each day.

    Some of these are (of course) due to typos in email addresses. Some are due to failure on behalf of the user to follow activation instructions. Some failures may even be due to spam filtering by the user’s email client.

    I know for a fact, however, that a non-trivial number of these emails are simply failing to reach the recipient. On an average day I receive around 10 contact form inquiries from users who did not receive their activation email, and yet they provided a valid (and correct) email address. They have checked their spam folders and filters, and nothing was screened out.

    Obviously, this is imposing an administration cost of dealing with manual account activations. It’s additionally costing me a lot of potential users who don’t go to the trouble to solicit help. This is a situation that I VERY MUCH would like to resolve ASAP, so that user registration on my site can proceed normally. If any of you have any insight into things I could try in order to diagnose the exact issue it would be hugely appreciated.

    To provide a bit more additional info: there are a multitude of email domains for which this issue seems to be occurring, however I am frequently seeing this happen with non-mainstream email hosts.

    • Hosts like gmx, live, web, bk, btinternet and others seem commonly filtered.
    • Gmail, AOL, charter, and other “mainstream” hosts show up less frequently than I would expect given their market shares.
    • .edu recipients get filtered a lot, but this is probably due to university policies and an unrelated issue.

    Some other information that may be helpful is that I use DKIM and SPF keys (both of which are properly configured in DNS).

    Anyways, I realize this is a very niche issue and may be difficult to resolve, but if there are any email experts out there I would really love to make progress on this, as I’m having to spend around 30 minutes per day dealing with users who are unable to activate (not to mention all the non-vocal user accounts which my site is losing).

    Please let me know if I can provide any information to help better diagnose the issue!


Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • I apologize for bumping, but this issue is really continuing to be a big headache. If anyone has insight into why these mails might be failing please share!



    What plugin are you using to deliver e-mails via Google Apps? Maybe there lies the problem. Or maybe you are hitting Google Apps sending limits? 😉

    You can always try to use Amazon SES for e-mail delivery – it’s quite cheap and very reliable.

    Hey @chmielopas, thanks for your thoughts. These activation emails are just sent using wp_mail, I don’t think they are actually routed through google apps, but I’m not certain. I’m not using any plugin to deliver email to google apps, just the normal DNS settings.

    Henry Wright


    @aaclayton have you tried contacting your host? You need to verify if these emails are actually being sent by your mail server. If they are being sent and received, then the problem could be with the actual activation link.

    Have you tried disabling all of your plugins? I realise the site is live so that might not be possible.

    The emails are sent but not received. It is a live site. I am self-hosted. I’m only using 3 plugins, BuddyPress, bbPress, and Members.

    Henry Wright


    The emails are sent but not received

    Could your domain be blacklisted? You might have to approach the various hosts you’re having problems with to make sure you’re on their whitelist.

    It’s not a blacklist problem, because it’s not every email address at a particular domain. As I said, the problem is extremely intermittent. More emails succeed than fail, but the small number of failures is causing a problem.

    you’re more than likely slamming into mail server spam filtering and that’s not the user spam filtering but the actual email server with strict RDNS & SPF checks in place. Generally it’s not understood that you can’t just relay emails from a server from any old domain name, that’s a possible open relay and email servers will block emails that are authorised to be sent via a given server IP, look up RDNS and get it set if it’s not already and then SPF and get that set in your MX records.

    Hey @hnla, thanks for the advice. I’ll look into RDNS. I do already have a SPF record set up, though.

    Just wanted to update this topic to mention that the issue is solved. The root cause was due to our recent server migration, the entry in our new /etc/hosts file referred to a local address which was not a public URL. I needed to map a valid public URL in my /etc/hosts file so the email was registered as being originated by an authentic source.

    I also changed the hostname to public valid path in /etc/sysconfig/network.

    I doubt this issue will affect anyone else, but in case it does that’s the issue!

Viewing 10 replies - 1 through 10 (of 10 total)
  • The topic ‘Activation Email Intermittent Failures’ is closed to new replies.
Skip to toolbar