Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(November 1995)

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Subject: Re: Netiquette of mailto: URLs?
From: Michelle Dick <artemis @ rahul . net>
Date: Sun, 26 Nov 95 20:25:07 -0800
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <199511270122 . RAA15914 @ server . postmodern . com>

Michael wrote:
> Michelle Dick <artemis @
 rahul .
 net> writes:
> I'm seeing a lot of frustration in Michelle's postings and from some
> others (mis-directed at things like mailto: URLs, I think) about the
> general level of cluelessness among new users of the Net.  Point
> taken, and it will probably get worse before it gets better, but from
> a list manager's point of view, I think the solution is not obscuring
> information like -request addresses (etc.), or adding indirection,
> but simply adopting a different attitude toward list management.

Um, I consider myself a rather attentive list owner.  And my list
management policies have been singled out for praise in more than one
book.  I do have files of form letters (and all new subscribers are
sent 5 seperate info files) and have short commands that allow me to
respond to most normal queries with just a couple keystrokes.  I even
set up my list software (SmartList) to automatically respond to a
"faqs" request so that existing subscribers can get a new set of the
new-member files anytime they want.  The single command "faqs" sends
them all the relevent files. (and a trailer at the end of the digest
reminds them that if they ever lose their faqs, a new set is just a
simple email away).

> My response to cluelessness and high volume of requests is just to try
> to automate absolutely everything possible and have form letters for
> everything that you have to eyeball.  The problems Michelle mentioned
> like people who don't understand the concept of e-mail and fill their
> mailbox and don't know how to unsubscribe -- well, too bad for them;

No.  What happens, and happened, is that I don't hear peep from them
until they send one nasty screaming email to the list posting address
and to my postmaster complaining and spewing obscenities and
threatening to mail to the list several hundred 100MB files.  In my
case I have a very nice postmaster who fixed up sendmail so as to
reject mail from that person, should they make good on their threat
(this was pre list management software, I could handle it myself now
-- the list would never see it -- though a mail bomb would still be a
problem for the system as a whole).

> they'll either figure out how to deal with the problem or not, or
> eventually their sysadmin or ISP will explain it to them.  I'm not
> going to lose sleep over it.

Or they mailbomb.  

> If they send mail to the list-owner address about this, they get
> a form letter explaining how to use Majordomo to unsubscribe.

The address that repeatedly responded to "webmaster @
 mit .
 edu" was just
an info address -- I had moved the list and put an autoresponder on
the old address, it was no longer a subscribe address.

We went like this:

mit:  Michelle, we are repeatedly getting these info mails from you,
can you make them stop.

me: Hmmm.  The only way you should be getting that is if you send mail
to 'address'.

mit: well, people are using our web-mail gateway and it sometimes puts
our address in the From: line.

me:  bummer.  OK, I'll filter out replies to your address.

mit: (a little while later), uh, we are still getting them.

me: hmm.  looks like there is another address variation that comes to
you.  I'll filter out all mail.

mit: thanks

How many times should I have to go through this for different
addresses just because someone puts a mailto: up *without my

> To sum up, my advice is to deal with the "cluelessness" problem by
> limiting your exposure to it.  

I try to.  Which is why I don't want any "mailto:"; links to my
addresses, thank you very much.  I still don't see what's so bad about
asking web authors to get permission first.  Then, those list owners
who don't mind the mailto can have them and those that don't won't.
Is there something so terrible about asking permission?


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