SparkPost account suspended—trying to meet their compliance requirements

I recently migrated a forum to Discourse that had been on phpBB for ~15 years. I set up a SparkPost account for email, and everything was working fine. However, yesterday, I received an email from SparkPost informing me that my account was deactivated due to spamming concerns. It looks like the presence of a few links in a batch of digest emails tripped an alert.

I’ve been going back and forth with their compliance department, and they’re refusing to reactivate the account unless I can prove that we have a CAPTCHA in place to deter spammers. I explained that the Discourse software doesn’t have a typical CAPTCHA, and even linked to their howto page for configuring Discourse with SparkPost (that has no mention of any CAPTCHA being needed), but they’re not budging.

Has anyone else dealt with this? Any idea how to proceed? We’ve already gone through and disabled the digests of all users that haven’t logged in to the new system, to reduce the volume of mail that is bounced or flagged as spam.

This is what I told them:

Discourse does not support traditional CAPTCHAs, but it does have a number of anti-spam measures built-in (including rate-limiting and limits on links for posts from new accounts). Is there additional customization required to configure Discourse for use with SparkPost? I’ve followed all of the directions on your own guide:

And their response:

Unfortunately, we need some sort of verification such as CAPTCHA on your forum. Once this is in place, let me know and I will reactivate your account.

I think it’s easier to switch email provider.


If that’s the case, then should SparkPost still be listed as a suggested provider? I used them based on guidance in the Discourse docs.

We list every email provider with a good free plan there. If multiple people start complaining about a provider, we can remove it. Like when we recommended mandril, and removed after they changed the pricing.


Well, @Falco has raised this issue several times in recent memory. There aren’t really that many options, and I think that there are still plenty of folks who are doing just fine with SparkPost. Every test has false positives and false negatives, and you just got unlucky with SparkPost’s test flagging you erroneously.

All mail delivery services have their problems. They are targets for spammers and if spammers use their servers their IPs get blacklisted. I use Mailgun for people when I set up Discourse for them. I frequently get my accounts disabled, presumably because I’m creating lots of accounts from the same IP address. I’ve established a relationship with one of the guys there and have a system worked out, but it’s just a difficult business.

Spammers just ruin it for everyone.