My Drupal installation attempts to send emails to a number of users whenever I create or update content but do not publish it. But because sending email is not configured errors are generated.

I don't know what configuration item I could have deliberately or accidentally set to cause that. Is there any setting or module that could cause that?

I don't think I have configured any Rules or Workflow settings to send emails, and it only occurs when the item is unpublished

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    There is a broad range of possible causes. None of which is a default core behavior, but caused by an installed module/its misconfigured settings, or intended by whoever created the site in the first place. Unfortunately it's impossible for us to guess without actually checking or debugging your code base. I'd personally start checking for any workflow notification modules or implementations of hook_entity_update by searching the code base of all installed modules. – Mario Steinitz Aug 9 '18 at 13:53
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    PS.: You could also check for occurrences of the ->mail( method. Drupal shouldn't send out too many e-mails. So this might also bring you a little closer to the source of the sent mails. – Mario Steinitz Aug 9 '18 at 14:02

The culprit turned to be the Antispam module, which is the client for the Akismet anti-spam system.

Its default setting causes an email to be sent to some administrators whenever a module is updated.

What baffled me was why that setting applied only when an unpublished item was created or updated.

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