[ih] more bounce management, was update about bogus list unsubcribe requests

John Levine johnl at iecc.com
Fri Aug 26 15:03:46 PDT 2016

>- list functions & behaviors (or we wouldn't be dealing with the impact 
>of DMARC on lists)

That's definitely a losing battle.  I've used list managers that do
things like flattening HTML parts into text, and downcoding images to
make them smaller.  ARC is a crock but it will likely be good enough.

>- the administrative realities of running mail systems and lists - such 
>as trying to track down things like who's sending bogus unsubscribe 
>requests, or who's been using their "spam" button as a delete key 
>(things that get very hard when, for example, someone is forwarding list 
>mail to a new address, but has left their old address on the list - I 
>can't tell you how many times I've been asked to remove someone from a 
>list, and simply can't find an address that remotely resembles the one 
>they send the removal request from)

Commercial mailers solved these problems long ago, and discussion list
managers have lagged beind.  Commercial mailers send every recipient a
separate copy of the message, usually with a unique bounce address and
some tokens in the List-Unsubscribe or elsewhere that identify the
recipient.  For webmail spam buttons, if you have static IPs it is not
hard to register your IP range with Hotmail and AOL, or your DKIM
signing domains with Yahoo and automatically get copies of the mail
that's reported as spam so you can turn them into unsubs.  I've done
that, even with the redaction some of them do it's not hard to

As far as I can tell, too many discussion lists are stuck in a 1996
mindset where separate copies are "inefficient" or "bandwidth hogs"
which is ridiculous if you consider what a tiny slice of the
Internet's bandwith mail takes, even including all the spam.  For
lists that have other lists subscribed, my advice is don't do that, or
if you do, the sublist better handle its own bounces.

I adjusted MJ2 to interface with qmail's VERP and the bounce
management was pretty much perfect, could tie every bounce to a list
and subscriber, and I could set policies to unsub after N bounces in M
days or the like.  Now I use Sympa, and if I ever have enough time I'd
like to do the same.  

In the meantime, when I have to take out a mystery address, so long as
they send me a copy of a message, it usually has a Received header
with a sequence stamp added by the host to which I sent tne mail, so I
can look at my logs and identify the guilty party.  Yes, it's a pain,
but it's less of a pain than repeated spam reports from unhappy


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