Mailgun story, again

I understand that this may be one of many posts about Mailgun, but I’d like to share my experience as a self-hosted user of Ghost over the past seven months.

When I signed up for Ghost, I was thrilled to discover a refreshing alternative to WordPress and other CMS platforms.

However, my excitement waned when I delved into the bulk email integration and realized that self-hosted users were limited to using only one provider: Mailgun. While I had never heard of Mailgun before, I knew there were better options available with more appealing plans, such as Sendinblue.

Nevertheless, I attempted to explore alternatives, only to find that it was quite challenging and time-consuming, requiring extensive knowledge. Reluctantly, I started using Mailgun, but soon discovered that its functionality didn’t align with what Ghost’s documentation had suggested, particularly regarding an easy setup process for the free plan. In fact, Mailgun recently made changes to their free plan, making it more challenging to set up (the famous new Flex plan).

Nonetheless, after investing numerous hours of work, I eventually managed to configure it successfully.

Everything was running smoothly until my user base started to grow. However, as the batches of emails sent from Ghost for my newsletter became larger, I encountered one day the notorious error in the ghost admin: “Your post has been published but the email failed to send. An unexpected error occurred, please retry sending your newsletter. If the error persists, please verify your email settings.”

Frustratingly, contacting Mailgun’s customer service proved futile in the beginning as their suggestions involved changing various parameters like the API key, domain, and more. I had already explained to them that the sending functionality was working fine just a few days before, so the issue was on their end.

Essentially, they were unable to resolve the problem at first, and I had to delve into my website’s log files (thanks to reading other threads on this forum), sifting through thousands of lines of code to uncover the error message: “Forbidden: Domain mg.x.com is not allowed to send large batches yet.”

After basically doing their work and providing them with the error details, only after that they gave me the truth, so that my account was placed in an evaluation period due to their “sophisticated” spam detector.

What’s amusing is that they never informed me about this in advance; I had to investigate the issue on their behalf. Moreover, they started posing very private questions like:

  1. Please provide a brief description of how your business utilizes email.
  2. What types of emails will you be sending: transactional, marketing, or both?
  3. How do you obtain your email lists/contacts, and what are the URLs of these sources?
  4. Could you please share the URLs to your Terms of Service and Privacy Policy for our review?
  5. What is your expected monthly volume of messages?

The practices employed by Mailgun, such as concealing the flex program, are not only a significant issue but also the complete loss of newsletter sending functionality without any prior notice from their side.

It leaves me questioning how this service can be considered the primary and sole officially supported choice for self-hosted Ghost users.

I can’t help but wonder if users are treated this way simply because they are on the flex program. When my mailing list eventually grows and surpasses the flex limit, I would gladly pay for Mailgun’s services if they would proactively communicate any issues and provide clear explanations without requiring me to SSH into the server and search through lines of code.

However, I wouldn’t want to be left stranded with a broken sending functionality and no warning or guidance on how to resolve it.

Perhaps you can share some metrics, since the issue you experience doesn’t appear to be universal. Likewise, how have you built your mailing list?

I think these are perfectly reasonable questions since any abuse of their service would affect all users’. Email reputation has to be built up, especially is the domain is new; I was asked similar questions by Mailgun and Twitter (to use their API) when launching a new domain a few years ago. The transition from the evaluation period was straightforward.

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I have sent a few newsletters, all of which were legitimate and not considered spam. My mailing list was not imported; instead, it has been built from scratch over the past few months using the Ghost platform. I believe I should not have faced any limitations. Or at least be warned about it with some forewarning. The newsletter functionality was instead broken, without any communication from Mailgun side.

@block How did you do to “pass” the evaluation period?
I have a similar problem than you, except that I imported my existing subscribers from Mailchimp to Ghost.

I have about 100.

I got the same error message and by contacting the Mailgun support, they told me I am in “evaluation period” with following limits:

  • a maximum of 100 messages per hour.
  • a maximum of 10 recipients per message.

I provided them all the documents and links they require to prove I will not do spamming to then get the answer that “To establish sufficient sending history with Mailgun and conclude the evaluation process, please conduct normal business operations with 3-5 days of consistent sending”.

It’s a nonsense to send to only 10 people while I would use the old mailchimp to send to the remaining 90 subscribers …

All, do you have any tips to pass this evaluation period ?

I have responded to all the inquiries by explaining that the mailing list was created entirely from scratch within the last months. I assured them that all the content on the website is original and of high quality, and emphasized my complete lack of interest in engaging in spamming activities or using Mailgun for such purposes. I mentioned that I only send a few newsletters per week and that while the number of subscribers is growing, it is still relatively low. Additionally, I provided them with my privacy policy and terms and conditions, inviting them to verify the legitimacy of the website themselves. I kindly requested that if they encounter any issues that may affect the functionality of my website in the future, they must inform me in advance.

Mailgun has this post explaining this: https://help.mailgun.com/hc/en-us/articles/115001124753. It would be helpful if they presented this form at the very beginning of using their service.

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What an excellent reply, thank you.

Whatever the rights and wrongs of everybody’s experience with importing and Mailgun and how they feel they have been treated, I have a suggestion that might smooth things a bit and perhaps reduce friction and time here (and not just in this thread).

I’d advise a review by Ghost of the current Ghost formal help topics on Mailgun (there are a few, all in the right places and all good).

I’d also advise putting a repeat and quite frequent review of those pages in the Ghost customer support team’s diary.

@matribeiro ’s link today is an example of a page that should have been referenced in the Ghost help pages as soon as it went up on Mailgun.

That can’t be done for everything, but with Mailgun being pretty much the only core external service baked into Ghost, improvements, changes and new advice over there that might impact Ghost should lead to rapid action.

I bet that’s true for backend stuff, obviously: that’s apparent to us all in a daily basis. But with respect to Mailgun, this thread at least gives the impression that it is less clear that the Ghost user support pages specifically for Mailgun receive the same prioritised diligent upkeep.

Not meant as a moan, but as advice from a strong and loyal supporter of Ghost who’s amazed by its superb performance.

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I agree. Didn’t know about the existence of that page. Now everything is definitely clearer. I mark your answer as a solution to my problem.

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I seem to be encountering the similar error message. The last two posts that I published did not send as a newsletter. From the ghost posts page, it says “Published but failed to send newsletter.” After going through my error logs, I discovered a “Forbidden: Domain mg.xx.com is not allowed to send large batches yet.”

I’ve opened a support case with Mailgun, but I too am frustrated with their support and that fact that I’m forced to use Mailgun.

Any other suggestions to get this working? Do I have to unpublish to try to re-send the newsletter?

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I just registered to vent my frustration. I currently have 12 subscribers to my site. it might grow to 20 or 30, but the site is private and only for friends and family.

First, I apparently missed that I had to change from the detault set up plan and was charged 20 bucks for that. My fault for not paying attention, annoying nevertheless if you also have your own mail server that could be used for that.

But now I can’t send emails to my 12 subscribers because of the large batches error. No error message on the mailgun site, not even the attempt is logged on the dashboard. Overall really annoying experience to just host a site for friends and family, but I suppose I’m not the target audience for ghost (anymore).

EDIT: Opened a support ticket, got refused. Because of a lack of sending history, they’re leaving the limit in place. I’m supposed to conduct normal business for 3-5 days. How the **** am I supposed to do that if I can not send any mails. They’re not even telling me what the limit is.

Mailgun is definitely a problem also for me. The Ghost reasoning is that they are a small team so there is basically no time to add a different provider (for now).

Oh by the way, the rate limiting should be around 100 email sent. Switch asap to the Flex plan. And just keep opening tickets and explain that you won’t use the mail sending functions for spam reasons but for your Ghost blog.

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Yeah, thanks, I already tried that. Explained that it is a personal blog for friends and family and they all signed up on their own after visiting the site. Let’s see how they respond…

Today i quiting out Mailgun. My newsletter have 12 subscribers and Mailgun block the email send. Pool service, I’m migrating to another service and will have to create a newsletter outside of Ghost CMS. A disappointment…