Flood control and email loops

Flood control and email loops

When automating any type of email system, there exists the possibility that an unintentional, and undesireable "email loop" may occur. An email loop is when the Email Manager gets caught in a never-ending cycle of processing and sending email.

Different types of loops are possible.

One type is when the Email Manager has been configured to process an email and add it either as a new job, or update an existing one, and then send an outgoing email, which is then sent to the same email inbox that the Email Manager is scanning. This email is then processed and the loop cycle begins.

Another loop cycle is possible if 2 email automation systems are engaged with each other. One system process an email and sends an email to the other, which does the same thing. An email loop cycle is created.

The HelpMaster Email Manager has been designed to minimize the possibility of email loops by using a simple algorithm to detect such email behaviour. If the Email Manager detects that a job is being updated too often at a regular basis, it will attempt to break the loop by not sending out any email.

The flood filter algorithm

The algorithm that HelpMaster uses to detect potential loops is to look for the following combination of incoming email:

  1. Incoming email is sent from the same email address
  2. The target job is the same
  3. The job has not been updated or actioned by any other process or person (via web, desktop or otherwise) since the last incoming email
  4. Steps 1 to 3 above occur 3 times within 2 hours (This is the default settings - to change this, see below)

Updating the flood filter parameters

Update the database table tblEmailManagerServiceConfiguration and modify the values in the following columns:

  • FloodControlDuplicateCount [default is 3] (The number of times an email from the same address for the same job is detected)
  • FloodControlTimeMins [default is 120] (The trigger time in minutes. If the number of emails above are detected within this time, the flood control is activated)

What does the flood control algorithm do?

If the flood control algorithm is triggered, the incoming email will still be processed, but no out-going email is sent for that specific action - even if configured to do so. This may prevent further email responses. An event log will also be written to the Email Manager event log.

Tips for avoiding email loops

  • Use appropriate filters to only process specific email
  • Consider using filters to only process email from a specific domain
  • Update Email Templates to include specific words in the Subject. Use filters to scan and look for these words when the reply comes back

See Also

Filtering and Email Workflow Overview