Feedback Loop Information

When an AOL member clicks "This Is Spam" for a piece of email sent from one of your IPs, this is considered a "complaint". If you are having difficulty delivering email to AOL, a feedback loop (FBL) would benefit you. Once you have created a feedback loop, we will send you a copy of each complaint generated when an AOL member reports your email as spam. Monitoring FBLs benefits both bulkmailers and ISPs, in that they help to manage mailing lists as well as providing early warnings of network security issues such as bot infestations, compromised web forms, and other such sources of spam and abuse.

All FBLs are in a standard Abuse Reporting Format (ARF) which is designed to prevent FBL recipients from having to maintain separate parsers for FBLs from different providers. Due to the widespread adoption of ARF, AOL converted all FBLs to ARF on September 2, 2008. For additional information on ARF and ARF processing, please see our blog post.

The FBL complaints you receive will contain the complete email and header information. Due to our member privacy policy, we redact the email address that the message was originally sent to. We suggest using opaque identifiers for the email recipient or a custom remove link in the body of the email to help you identify the original recipient of the message.

Feedback loop emails are sent from SCOMP@aol.net from our Outbound Mail Relay servers (OMRs). Please make sure you do not filter mail from these IPs, or you will not receive all of your complaints, which could have a negative impact on IP reputation and thus, delivery.


What is ARF?

ARF stands for "Abuse Reporting Format".

ARF is intended to standardize Feedback Loop emails. This effort will help prevent feedback loop recipients from requiring multiple parsers for various mailers' FBL reports. AOL uses ARF as its only FBL format.

Please visit here for more information on ARF messages.

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Feedback Loop Process Information

It is imperative for privacy, security and legal reasons that we only send abuse complaints to authorized addresses for networks that send mail to us. We do this using a two-step process:

Step 1. The Confirmation:

When you provide your FBL email address, we verify that the provided email address has a right to receive abuse complaints for the supplied FBL domain. We offer a drop-down list of available confirmation addresses. Included in the drop-down is abuse@, postmaster@, and any other email address listed in the FBL email's domain WHOIS record. You may select which address the confirmation is sent to, but please ensure it is an account you have access to! Clicking on the link in the confirmation email you will receive signifies to us that that email address is that of an authorized administrator of the applicant domain.

Example:

  1. You enter fbl@fbldomain.com as your FBL address. Please note that "fbldomain.com" is being used only as an example.
  2. The drop-down will include: abuse@fbldomain.com, postmaster@fbldomain.com, and any other email address listed in the WHOIS record for fbldomain.com. Please ensure that at least one of these is configured before applying for an FBL.
  3. You select abuse@fbldomain.com.
  4. We send the confirmation to abuse@fbldomain.com.
  5. Clicking the link in the confirmation says "AOL, fbldomain.com gives you permission to send abuse complaints to fbl@fbldomain.com."

This requirement helps us prevent a regular user from being able to sign up for an FBL for a domain, such as user@yahoo.com signing up for a feedback loop to receive all of yahoo.com's complaints.

Confirming the request may still result in a denial if one of the subsequent IP ownership tests is not passed.

Step 2. The IP Ownership Test:

Next we verify that fbldomain.com has a right to receive abuse complaints for the IP(s) in the submitted request. There are five possible tests to prove IP ownership. They are listed below.

Because of the way our system processes the requests, The Confirmation comes before The IP Ownership Test.

So, let's begin.

  • If you would like to change the format or configuration for your existing FBL(s) please the appropriate form for your requirements.

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Feedback Loop Technical Requirements

Requesting a Feedback Loop:

When requesting a feedback loop, your domain must comply with AOL's reverse DNS guidelines. Additionally, your request must comply with one of our measures of IP ownership.

IP Ownership:

The FBL process must be able to establish that the FBL applicant has a right to receive abuse complaints for the IP(s) in the submitted request. To establish IP ownership, one of the following five criteria must be met. Please note that if you use a subdomain in your FBL email address, that subdomain must be shared to satisfy the selected requirement below.

  • The reverse DNS for each IP shares the FBL domain (including the subdomain, if used).
    • A valid example would be:
    FBL email address is: aolfbl@accounting.aol.com
    192.168.1.1 resolves to mailserver1.accounting.aol.com
    192.168.1.2 resolves to mailserver2.accounting.aol.com
  • The domain WHOIS for each IP's RDNS contains the FBL email domain (including the subdomain, if used). The domain may appear in any of the listed email addresses.
  • At least one authoritative nameserver for each IP shares the FBL email domain (including the subdomain, if used).
    • A valid example would be:
    FBL email address is: aolfbl@accounting.aol.com
    192.168.1.1 authoritative nameserver is ns1.accounting.aol.com
    192.168.1.2 authoritative nameserver is ns1.accounting.aol.com
  • The IP WHOIS information for each IP contains the FBL email domain (including the subdomain, if used). The domain may appear in any of the listed email addresses.
    • A valid example would be:
    FBL email address is: aolfbl@abuse.aol.com
    192.168.1.1 and 192.168.1.2 IP WHOIS contains the line: OrgAbuseEmail: abuse@abuse.aol.com
  • The ASN WHOIS information for each IP contains the FBL email domain (including the subdomain, if used). The domain may appear in any of the listed email addresses.
    • A valid example would be:
    FBL email address is: aolfbl@abuse.aol.com
    192.168.1.1 and 192.168.1.2 ASN WHOIS contains the line: OrgAbuseEmail: abuse@abuse.aol.com

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