Spam blacklists block my mail

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Spam blacklists block my mail

Bram Moolenaar

This appears to happen more often these days: I send a message to a user
and some blacklist system blocks my message.  I have no control over
what my ISP does, these services simply block my message without a way
for me to fix this.

Please, don't use these blacklist services, they are very annoying.
They think they can reduce spam, but only by blocking legitimate
messages.  I rather have 100 spam messages than losing one real message.
Also, there is no reliable way to tell if a message is spam or not.
Some of these services even ask money to be removed from the list, which
is close to extortion.

Specifically my message to George Reilly started failing today.
Messages to Mattias Winther were blocked for a longer time.

--
FATHER: One day, lad, all this will be yours ...
PRINCE: What - the curtains?
                 "Monty Python and the Holy Grail" PYTHON (MONTY) PICTURES LTD

 /// Bram Moolenaar -- [hidden email] -- http://www.Moolenaar.net   \\\
///        sponsor Vim, vote for features -- http://www.Vim.org/sponsor/ \\\
\\\        download, build and distribute -- http://www.A-A-P.org        ///
 \\\            help me help AIDS victims -- http://ICCF-Holland.org    ///

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Re: Spam blacklists block my mail

Tony Mechelynck
On 11/07/10 16:04, Bram Moolenaar wrote:

>
> This appears to happen more often these days: I send a message to a user
> and some blacklist system blocks my message.  I have no control over
> what my ISP does, these services simply block my message without a way
> for me to fix this.
>
> Please, don't use these blacklist services, they are very annoying.
> They think they can reduce spam, but only by blocking legitimate
> messages.  I rather have 100 spam messages than losing one real message.
> Also, there is no reliable way to tell if a message is spam or not.
> Some of these services even ask money to be removed from the list, which
> is close to extortion.
>
> Specifically my message to George Reilly started failing today.
> Messages to Mattias Winther were blocked for a longer time.
>

In most cases the problem lies with the receiving ISP (Matthias's and
George's, in this case). Some ISPs will drop on the floor incoming mail
that "they think" is spam, others let you customize your email account
to enable or disable filtering (but do they do what they say?), still
others will filter "spam" to someplace where you can inspect it (let's
say a webmail or IMAP folder other than Inbox). This way you may "fish
back" false positives, and in some cases, by marking both false
positives and false negatives (the latter being what spam went through
the filters without being recognized as such) "teach" a Bayesian
filtering system to recognize legit vs. spam mail with better and better
(though of course never perfect) accuracy.

This possibility to inspect what was labeled as spam is why I switched
to Gmail (which offers it; I'm sure there are others); of course I have
to periodically check, on their webmail interface, "Trash" for spam that
was delivered to me over POP3 as legit and "Spam" for legit mail that
was held when it shouldn't have been.


Best regards,
Tony.
--
The wind doth taste so bitter sweet,
        Like Jaspar wine and sugar,
It must have blown through someone's feet,
        Like those of Caspar Weinberger.
                -- P. Opus

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Re: Spam blacklists block my mail

Bram Moolenaar

Tony Mechelynck wrote:

> On 11/07/10 16:04, Bram Moolenaar wrote:
> >
> > This appears to happen more often these days: I send a message to a user
> > and some blacklist system blocks my message.  I have no control over
> > what my ISP does, these services simply block my message without a way
> > for me to fix this.
> >
> > Please, don't use these blacklist services, they are very annoying.
> > They think they can reduce spam, but only by blocking legitimate
> > messages.  I rather have 100 spam messages than losing one real message.
> > Also, there is no reliable way to tell if a message is spam or not.
> > Some of these services even ask money to be removed from the list, which
> > is close to extortion.
> >
> > Specifically my message to George Reilly started failing today.
> > Messages to Mattias Winther were blocked for a longer time.
>
> In most cases the problem lies with the receiving ISP (Matthias's and
> George's, in this case). Some ISPs will drop on the floor incoming mail
> that "they think" is spam, others let you customize your email account
> to enable or disable filtering (but do they do what they say?), still
> others will filter "spam" to someplace where you can inspect it (let's
> say a webmail or IMAP folder other than Inbox). This way you may "fish
> back" false positives, and in some cases, by marking both false
> positives and false negatives (the latter being what spam went through
> the filters without being recognized as such) "teach" a Bayesian
> filtering system to recognize legit vs. spam mail with better and better
> (though of course never perfect) accuracy.

It's indeed that the receiving ISP is the one refusing the mail.  But
it's worse than what you describe: they block ALL mail from a certain IP
address.  That this IP address is used by hundreds of thousands of users
doesn't appear to make a difference.  I'm sure that if you have so many
users there are always a few that will send spam (through a botnet).

> This possibility to inspect what was labeled as spam is why I switched
> to Gmail (which offers it; I'm sure there are others); of course I have
> to periodically check, on their webmail interface, "Trash" for spam that
> was delivered to me over POP3 as legit and "Spam" for legit mail that
> was held when it shouldn't have been.

Sometimes mail from Gmail is also blocked...

--
I'd like to meet the man who invented sex and see what he's working on now.

 /// Bram Moolenaar -- [hidden email] -- http://www.Moolenaar.net   \\\
///        sponsor Vim, vote for features -- http://www.Vim.org/sponsor/ \\\
\\\        download, build and distribute -- http://www.A-A-P.org        ///
 \\\            help me help AIDS victims -- http://ICCF-Holland.org    ///

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Re: Spam blacklists block my mail

Mark Manning-5
In reply to this post by Bram Moolenaar
  I don't know about anyone else, but I just use the built-in spam and
message routing facilities within Thunderbird.  The message routing
stuff I use to direct any/all vim related activities to the vim folder
and spam just gets put into the junk folder where I review everything.  
I am a member of spamcop because I run an e-mail server but I review
each and every message before sending it to them.  Vim mail has never
been sent to spamcop.  Most of my real spam is easy to find.  It starts
with [hidden email] or [hidden email] or some other fictitious e-mail
address.  So that makes it really easy to tell.  There is one add-on I
used to use (but haven't for a while now).  It used to use the
blacklists.  However, you can direct it to just put the spam in the junk
folder and then you can check it there.  Blacklists do help with spam
but you also have to make sure that they, like anything else, aren't
being abused.  So when the bad guys grab your site's id and start doing
something bad with it - you sometimes get caught in the middle ground.  
I have and it took a while to clear my site's name.  But now better
detections are showing the e-mail doesn't come from me.  And I have no
idea why they decided to even start using my site's id.  They just did.  
So I fight back via Spamcop and, like I said, I am now a paid member.

Recently I upgraded my server from a desktop unit to a laptop unit to
run the sites.  I did this because the laptop has a built-in battery (so
no more brown-out shutdowns of the system) and because the laptop has
two cpus.  In doing this I found out that someone had installed
something that allowed spammers to use our system to redirect the e-mail
out into the internet.  I reset all of the ports so no one could send
e-mail at all, waiting a while, and then began allowing e-mail to go
again.  This reset everything in the e-mail program and now I see
hundreds of rejected attempts to redirect e-mail.  I'm keeping a log so
I can notify all of those people that their computers are sending spam.  
I've also notified the company (in South Africa called Capesoft) that
there is a problem with their software.  They are investigating to find
out why it did this.  So you have to be on the lookout for things
happening when you are not expecting them to be happening.  The e-mail
server was running just fine.  It was human error that didn't notice
others were using the server to send out spam.  (ie: My fault)  At least
I have corrected the problem.

On 7/11/2010 9:04 AM, Bram Moolenaar wrote:

> This appears to happen more often these days: I send a message to a user
> and some blacklist system blocks my message.  I have no control over
> what my ISP does, these services simply block my message without a way
> for me to fix this.
>
> Please, don't use these blacklist services, they are very annoying.
> They think they can reduce spam, but only by blocking legitimate
> messages.  I rather have 100 spam messages than losing one real message.
> Also, there is no reliable way to tell if a message is spam or not.
> Some of these services even ask money to be removed from the list, which
> is close to extortion.
>
> Specifically my message to George Reilly started failing today.
> Messages to Mattias Winther were blocked for a longer time.
>

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