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Technical Details for Auto-Reply Exceptions

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The Problem

  1. Joe User sets up Exchange's auto-reply feature on his account.
  2. Joe User receives a message from an e-list.
  3. Exchange dutifully sends the auto-reply to the reply-to address specified.

This auto-reply doesn't do anybody any good. In fact, it might trigger additional automated messages and, depending on the way the list is configured, may automatically unsubscribe Joe User.

The Solution

If a message includes this header

X-Auto-Response-Suppress: OOF, DR, RN, NRN

Exchange will suppress Out of Office responses for that message, regardless of the settings in place for any individual account. 

CIT has created a rule on its Exchange server that checks each incoming message for any of these common list headers:

  • List-Subscribe
  • List-Unsubscribe
  • List-Help
  • List-Post
  • List-Owner
  • List-Archive
  • List-ID

If the message has any of these headers, we append the "X-Auto-Response-Suppress: OOF, DR, RN, NRN" header, and poof, no auto-reply.

Anyone maintaining other mailing systems at Cornell, such as ticketing systems, can also use the "X-Auto-Response-Suppress: OOF, DR, RN, NRN" header to suppress auto-replies from Exchange users.

Note that some list managers use a different header "Precedence: bulk", which has the same effect.


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