Reply by email - additional addresses

From reading a few topics, it seems that this is a possible feature?

To combat spam, many people use wildcard domains, plus addressing or Gmail dots. Unfortunately Discourse doesn’t allow for this meaning any email replies to threads and PMs bounce instead of working correctly. Anyone using these methods should be able to authorise additional send-from addresses to enable these protections but not lose out on core Discourse functionality.

So can anyone a) confirm this is possible with Discourse and, b) tell me where in settings I can add additional reply-by-email addresses to my account (or, as an end user, what I need to ask the forum host for)?


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If someone signs up with an email address that is not their standard Gmail address, then they should add the other address as an alias within Gmail.

The point of doing this is to use a separate email for each service so it’s not really compatible with making an outgoing address for each service too. They are designed to be receive only. And they are not limited to Gmail.

Are you saying there is still no feature to add an approved “reply my email” address? What would be the negative of this?

There is internal and not exposed support for one additional “alternate” email as I recall, but I don’t think “let users add infinite email addresses” is planned.

To be clear, I’m not asking about infinite addresses! Just a single approved outgoing address that works with reply-by-email.

I’m not exactly sure what “internal and not exposed support” means as an end user.

Basically it is a complex change that is in progress over a series of many months or even years.

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Ah I follow you. Planned feature?

I don’t really understand what you mean. But if you’re using Gmail then there’s a really easy work around which requires no changes to Discourse. Email aliases are probably supported by many other email systems too.

As I explained, most people do this to have a separate receive-only address for each service then use the same outgoing email address for all sending.

The issue is not resolved by making an email alias as you’d have to take ages to manually add hundreds of email aliases and clog up your From: drop down.

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It’s possible in Discourse to have a secondary email from which users can reply. Have the receive-only email as the primary, and add the user’s regular email as the secondary. You would be shifting the burden of managing this onto the Discourse admin because currently it can only be done through the rails console.


Thanks that’s exactly what I was querying.

So as an end user on another Discourse product, I need to contact an admin to enable this at present?


Correct - only an admin with ssh access to the server would be able to do it.


Is there any future plan to allow this to be accessible through the Web interface?

I’m not sure this is a legitimate problem, Gmail natively supports aliases with both plus addressing and gmail dots on accounts, I use both quite regularly for this. They can be added via settings->accounts.

What would be the point of using such approaches to identify the source of email (and potential future spam) only to later provide your main alias?

Rather than needing to educate Discourse about additional addresses, you can simply respond using the alias which mail was received via.

That’s surely neater and safer, no?


You’re right, it’s far from ideal.

But the solution does make sense (bear with me). First of all, the outgoing email address can be outgoing-only, just as the receiving address is incoming-only. This allows you to reduce unwanted spam as well as identify the source.

As explained, aliasing is not a solution when you still have to manually set each one up. If Gmail or other platforms could intelligently reply from the appropriate plus-address or dot-address the issue would be resolved but that seems unlikely (not to mention dot addressing is non-standard).

Frankly, I have not had the security issue with replying from alternative addresses explained to me. Surely if we trust the recipient with the (sometimes-private) data they receive, we equally trust them to post. Why not include a token with the email notification allowing any email address to reply (as long as the token is valid).

Just thinking things through here - please feel free to pick these points apart…

Again, look at your settings in gmail, this works today:

You’ve two choices:

  • Configure addresses to identify the source of email (and go one extra step to add an alias within gmail to close the loop)
  • Ask every service you use which handles inbound mail to handle additional aliases.

I know which one I’d favor, in that it works today and requires nothing extra from third parties. If you’re not willing to go to the effort to maintain the aliases, why ask anyone to go to the effort of writing extra code?


I’m not sure if you’re actually reading what I’m saying. All the above requires you to have created every single plus/dot address which as I have explained over and over is not feasible. As it happens transparently when receiving my use of the phrase “intelligently reply from the appropriate plus-address or dot-address” implied exactly the mirror-image behaviour.

I’m more than aware of the settings in Gmail as well as a variety of other email interfaces. That’s precisely why I started this topic with the specific points I raised. Please re-read.

  • Configure addresses to identify the source of email (and go one extra step to add an alias within gmail to close the loop)

In the modern world that’s literally not possible.

why ask anyone to go to the effort of writing extra code?

Even if you ignore my token suggestion (still waiting for constructive criticism), that’s absolutely not what I’m doing.

They can configure Gmail to send from that address (I’m almost certain). If they want to use some +address, they’ll need to do the work.

It’s a pain but it’s pain that the user asked for.

If you’re not afraid of work or paying for it, you could get a plugin that would strip the +part of the address

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No need to be argumentative here, the use case is clear and it is something we planned for.


This topic has made me remember that Discourse should send a different error message reply if the from email is similar to the account’s email than if it’s completely differently, something like “it looks like your email was from an address that was similar but may have used a + string or had periods in different places. Emails must be sent from the exact email address the forum account is registered to.”

Please. Of course it’s possible. Even if you’re using this scheme for hundreds of sites as you claim, it’s still possible. It’s 10 extra seconds per site, and you’re not signing up to them all on one day are you?