Who would have thought email would end up being such a hot button in 2016?
Moodle HQ Senior Dan Poltawski reveals some of the issues that have come up in recent discussions with the team regarding email. They were highlighted at past MoodleMoot US 2016 talk, made by Elearning Experts COO Jamie Kramer, Moodle Email Problems and Solutions.
Kramer did the job of framing the email problem into a larger scope:
«Email deliverability is not a problem inherent only to Moodle, nor is it entirely a Moodle problem.»
It is true that issues regarding email notifications have not ceased since SMTP connection to Moodle was first available. It is worth noting that Moodle does not include an email server, and it cannot send email on behalf of commercial or institutional services, hence the need for SMTP settings. When Moodle sends emails, it tries to present them as if they were sent from the user’s email address. Most SMTP servers today not only identify this, but reject those messages, tagging them as “spiced ham“.
The time it took for the community to address email issues was long, as email is made of moving parts belonging to domains from different partners. In current year, there were no official standards for Moodle SMTP configuration. Part of the complexity had the benefit of making the work of spammers and scammers more difficult, with the downside of false positives.
During the time it took for the community to stand up, partially, to email issues, an array of services came to offer alternatives for every use of email. From communication, to storage, these solutions won the hearts of users, particularly the younger ones. However, even though we may wish we could furlough email and email-associated services, institutions at large do not foresee the end of email dependance anytime soon.
For the time being, Poltawski points us to Issue MDL-44467 in the Moodle Tracker. It deals precisely with misrepresentation of sender in Moodle emails. If fixed, a
No-Reply address as a sender would be default, preventing spam flags. It would also help streamline SMTP settings in a Moodle setup.