If you own your own domain, there is an optional AcceptIO feature called a "catch-all" mailbox (some refer to this as a "wildcard" mailbox or address). If you set up a catch-all mailbox, messages addressed to your domain but not to one of your specific mailboxes will instead be delivered to your catch-all mailbox.

Suppose you owned domain example.net and had created the following specific mailboxes:

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Without a catch-all mailbox, messages addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. would be rejected by the AcceptIO service since there is no mailbox for that address. Now, suppose you designated This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. as the catch-all mailbox (or you might even create a new mailbox just for the purpose of receiving catch-all messages). In that case, messages addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. would be delivered to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. mailbox.

Is it a good idea to have a catch-all mailbox? Well, yes and no, but mostly no.

It used to be common to use a catch-all mailbox so that messages with mistyped addresses could be delivered anyhow. In our example above, a message addressed to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. would be delivered to the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. mailbox. It would presumably be obvious to someone that the message was intended for This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and so the message could be manually forwarded or redelivered. Without a catch-all mailbox, the sender of the message would instead get a notification (from their email service) that the message was not delivered.

Another reason domain owners have used catch-all mailboxes in the past is so that they can give out new email addresses (to web sites and such) without having to do something about keeping track of them. The AcceptIO -suffix feature serves pretty much the same purpose without the downside of a catch-all mailbox. (You can read about suffixing here: Email Address Suffixing.)

Unfortunately, if you have a catch-all mailbox, you will probably get a lot of extra spam in that mailbox. It is very common for spammers to send hundreds or thousands of messages to fictitious addresses in a domain in the hope of reaching just a few real mailboxes. In anti-spam jargon, these are called "dictionary spams". Without a catch-all mailbox, AcceptIO rejects messages for non-existent mailboxes in a domain (but first taking into account the AcceptIO -suffix feature). With a catch-all mailbox, all email addresses in that domain are by definition legitimate. There is really no way for us to tell the difference.

So, our advice is that you probably do not want to use a catch-all mailbox. The feature is there, however, if you want to use it. You can easily enable or disable it via the AcceptIO administrative web pages.


NOTE: The user interface for adjusting these AcceptIO service preference values yourself is not yet available, but the catch-all mailbox feature is operational. If you would like to set up a catch-all mailbox, please contact AcceptIO support.

   
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