Do not use SpamCop to report anything except spam. This includes any and all responses to your SpamCop reports which are not blatant spam.
We define spam as Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE). To be considered spam, a message must be:
- Unsolicited (I didn't request it explicitly or implicitly); and,
- Bulk (the same message was sent to many people at once).
Some examples of messages which should not be reported as spam:
- Email flaming you from someone you are in an argument with.
- Email from people who you want to "get into trouble".
- Email that is obviously sent innocently to an incorrect address. This might include sales receipts, booking confirmations, etc.
- "Office email" with stupid jokes/anecdotes/attachments.
- Forwarded/CCed email from "friends and family" regarding signing petitions.
Spam sent to mailing lists
No matter how hard list managers try, spammers find a way to inject spam to the list (sometimes even going so far as to subscribe to the list first). This results in all list members receiving the spam.
List servers often show themselves as the source of the mail sent to it, not the originating user's IP address. Spam sent to mail lists/groups must not be reported using SpamCop except by the list owner. Subscribers may send a note to the list owner who can block the source from sending to the list or take responsibility for reporting the spam themselves.
Spam within other messages
If you receive a message (perhaps a bounce) which contains spam, you should not report the spam contained within the message, even if it includes what appear to be the full original headers. This is someone else's spam, not yours. It is expected that you can verify that the headers of reported mail are accurate, something you can't do for mail received on a network you are not familiar with.
Messages which may be reported:
There are several types of responses to forged email that SpamCop has in the past prohibited. However, these messages have become a big enough problem that we now allow them to be reported as the spam that they technically are.
Examples of messages in this category:
- Misdirected bounces
- Misdirected virus notifications
- Misdirected vacation emails
- Misdirected challenges from challenge/response spam filtering systems
Of course, this is contingent on the message actually being misdirected. You should never report a bounce or a challenge email which was caused by a message you did send. Many people dislike some of these auto-responses, but if you triggered them by sending a message, they are considered implicitly solicited emails and thus not spam. You don't have to email the same recipient in the future if you don't wish to receive the resulting response.
We have a FAQ aimed at the sources of these messages:
Why are auto-responders (and delayed bounces) bad?