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problems with email sent by Forums - fixed?

Nov 12

Written by:
Thursday, November 12, 2009 2:38 PM  RssIcon

This has been far more of a learning experience than I was looking for...

I installed Active Forums (AF) because it supports "post by email" - the ability to post to a forum by sending email, like we could do with Yahoo Groups.  That worked fine, but when  AF sent out email to all the subscribers, it caused all kinds of problems.  AF's email queue handler is not what I would call well engineered.  It tries to send 200 emails at a time, as fast as it can send them.  That might work on a dedicated server with no restrictions on SMTP calls, but on shared hosting, with quite reasonable limits, it got us in trouble right away.  

Lunarpages SMTP server was not happy with this much email all at once, and it would block us after the first 10 or 15 emails.  AF's email queue has no error recovery, so most of the emails were not even getting sent.

To try to fix this, I decided to use an external SMTP service, AuthSMTP, instead of sending the email via Lunarpages SMTP server.  It's a great service, not very expensive, and easy to set up.  It also has a log of each email sent, very helpful, and something AF could use but does not have.  Using AuthSMTP helped, but it did not fix the problems.  They only allow 5 simultaneous connections and AF's email queue was opening up far more than that.

It took a bit of a struggle with the developer (and not the first one, I'm afraid), but he finally provided a way to slow this down to something more reasonable.  I wish I knew why Will Morgenweck at Active Modules is so damn hard to deal with.  He is incredibly defensive.  It's really hard to get a direct answer from him but he finally did provide what I needed.

The fix was to change the "activeforums_Queue_List" procedure so it only selected 5 emails at a time, rather than 200, and then change the DNN Scheduler for the AF queue to run every 20 seconds.  That means it will send 5 emails three times a minute, so it will take 15 minutes to send 300 emails.  That's well within Lunarpages restrictions of 20 emails a minute and 600 an hour.

I tested this with a post to the Foothill Users forum, and all 30 emails were indeed sent.  Phew!

Hopefully this is the last problem I'll have to deal with for a while - I'm really tired of trying to talk to Mr. Morgenwerk!

William Phelps