Cloudflare Email Routing Fixed

TL;DR: Cloudflare needs to disable IPv6 that they use to communicate with the Gmail servers to stop Gmail from bouncing all routed email.

Don’t let Cloudflare support tell you that email routing to Gmail addresses is your fault. Support tried to brush me off and tell me that the problem was a result of me not turning off the sender verification in your destination mail server for any forwarded recipient domains. I detailed the whole thing in my last post here. After I never heard back from support again and 30 days had passed I had enough and took to Twitter to tweet at the Cloudflare leaders. I spend very little time on Twitter since the new ownership took over, but since Cloudflare never seems to reply on Mastodon there seemed to be no choice. Well that finally got some movement on my ticket and I heard from a Cloudflare support person.

Previously I had no luck routing email to another email service, all mail still bounced, but I had been wanting to try ProtonMail for awhile so I decided this might be a good opportunity to try ProtonMail. After setting up my account with them I setup the ProtonMail address and a confirmed destination address and moved the email routing on Cloudflare from using ImprovMX and went and sent a test email to my email address. To my surprise it worked! Cloudflare email routing was able to route my email to another email provider with no problem so I thought I would try to send that email to my Gmail account. Unfortunately routing that email to Gmail still bounced no matter what account I sent my test emails from.

This was now in the hands of Cloudflare support, and they finally came through. After working with them, and even doing a redirect to one of their Gmail addresses, they finally admitted that the problem was a result of something they were doing and had a fix. Why they could not set this up and find the problem without me having to route an email address I did not really use to them still is a bit of a mystery to me, but the end result is this is fixable.

It appears the whole problem with Gmail bouncing ALL email from Cloudflare routing is a result of Cloudflare using IPv6 to communicate with Gmail. Once they disabled IPv6 all email was able to be forwarded to Gmail. I have since been able to forward all my email to Gmail again and once again all seems to be working.

The Engineering team asked me to run another test after disabling IPv6 that we used to communicate to Gmail server. Based on the test that I just did, I can see that the email can go through my Gmail test inbox as follow:

I don’t know if Cloudflare has made this fix for everyone, but I can tell you that since they made this change all my email has been able to be routed to Gmail and only the spam that should be refused by Gmail is being refused.

Congrats to Cloudflare support for finally getting to the bottom of this. I hope that people submitting community and support tickets for Gmail bouncing all routed email actually get fixes from Cloudflare now instead of being brushed off.

Core Web Vitals Biggest Flaw

I will say the majority of time the engineers at Google are really smart and I understand the rational behind Core Web Vitals. Fast web pages are better for everyone, but the way Google measures Core Web Vitals has a major flaw, see if you can spot it in the quote below taken from the Google Support.

The report is based on three metrics as measured by actual user data: LCP, FID, and CLS. Once a URL has a threshold amount of data for any metric, the URL group’s status is its most poorly performing metric. So, for example, if a URL group has poor CLS but good FID, the URL status is “poor.”

Did you see the big flaw? Read it again? Still didn’t see it?

Here I will pull it out and bold the flaw Google has made in measuring Core Web Vitals.

as measured by actual user data

Now you might say that is not a flaw that makes perfect sense, by measuring the actual user data Google can see how long the web pages actually load for real people. Except it assumes that your readers have a decent Internet connection. What if, for example, you run a website whose main readers are not privileged enough to have a high speed connection? Your website, by virtue of having readers that are on slow connections, is then pushed down in the rankings. It won’t matter what you do to improve your website if the end users Internet connection is below what Google is expecting for average Internet speed.

For some interesting reading you might want to check out this release from the CIRA. It shows the rural median internet speed in Canada is 9.74 in 2021. Compared to in urban centres the median speed is 51.09. If your website is primarily focused on issues and needs of say the agricultural community, the speed the majority of your users have is roughly a 5th of what Google is seeing for urban users, but Google calculated the Core Web Vitals speed based on the majority of users on the Internet. The majority of Internet users live in urban centres.

Certainly Google would be smart enough to realize this right? It does not appear so. Core Web Vitals does not take into account the users Internet speed to determine rankings that I have been able to find. Of course it might be hidden behind some of Google’s almighty algorithms, but to us poor web managers it is not available. The fix to this problem is not very difficult. Google is already collecting the data to fix it, simply find the speed of the majority of users for sites and base a websites Core Web Vitals on ACTUAL USER DATA, based on the actual speed of the users that visit the site. Unfortunately I can’t see Google making such a move.

I guess Google is not always as smart as they need to be.