Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 1997)

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Subject: Re: rejected mail - RFC822 conflict ???
From: Eric Thomas <ERIC @ VM . SE . LSOFT . COM>
Date: Wed, 7 May 1997 19:54:40 +0200
To: LSTOWN-L @ PEACH . EASE . LSOFT . COM, LSTSRV-L @ PEACH . EASE . LSOFT . COM, KnowlesB @ aol . net, Brad Knowles <BKnowles @ aol . net>
Cc: Valdis Kletnieks <Valdis . Kletnieks @ VT . EDU>, Michael Ramundo <sysmrr @ CNSIBM . ALBANY . EDU>, Jeff Kell <jeff-kell @ UTC . EDU>, Pete Weiss <Pete-Weiss @ PSU . EDU>, list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: Message of Wed, 07 May 1997 13:51:36 -0400 from Brad Knowles <BKnowles @ aol . net>

On Wed, 07 May 1997 13:51:36 -0400 Brad Knowles <BKnowles @
 aol .
 net> said:

>    Specifically, source-routed mail has historically been the source of
>no  end of  problems, and  frequently abused  by less  savoury types  in
>attempts to  ensure that  they don't  have to  deal with  their bounces,
>etc..., we consider this an operational  issue and will refuse to accept
>mail with source-routed envelope addresses.

All you have to  do then is ignore the source route,  which is allowed by
RFC1123. I cannot think of any reason why ignoring the source route would
not address  your concerns.  Incidentally, if a  spammer doesn't  want to
deal  with bounces,  there  is  MAIL FROM:<>...  Or  did  AOL also  start
rejecting  such messages?  This would  make  AOL useless  for managing  a
mailing list, among other things.

>    At some point in time,  the RFC 1123 "Robustness Principle" (section
>1.1.2) continues the propagation of more and more bad systems,

I'm sorry, but  the "bad system" here  is AOL's, which not  only fails to
observe a  very reasonable RFC1123 rule  (ignore the source route  if you
don't want  to support  it, we're  talking about an  entire line  of code
here), but quotes a completely  irrelevant standard (RFC822) and verse to
justify  a RFC821-level  behaviour which  takes place  before the  RFC822
header is even transferred to AOL's  system. I find it somewhat offensive
that AOL then refers to the sending systems as "bad systems" that we will
never be able to get rid of. These systems are doing something which used
to be a  mandatory procedure in order to comply  with Internet standards,
and which is totally harmless as  you are allowed to ignore source routes
completely if you do not want to implement or honour them.

>    Essentially  as much  has  been observed  by  various Internet  mail
>experts, many of whom are working on drafting the upcoming standards.

Brad, maybe I'm not reading this in  the light in which it was meant, but
there are  probably more Internet mail  experts among the people  you are
sending this message to than in the  group you mentioned, and as you know
technical people tend to be independent  thinkers. This isn't to say that
the people on the DRUMS group aren't mail experts, but DRUMS doesn't have
a monopoly  on mail experts,  and I'm sure  you realize that  many people
signed off after getting tired of  receiving 100-150 DRUMS messages a day
with Dan Bernstein  flame wars and other kindergarten  arguments. It also
doesn't make much sense  to ask people to submit to the  wisdom of a task
force working on new Internet drafts which may or may not become Internet
standards in  a couple years, let  alone industry standards, when  at the
same  time you  refuse  to  submit to  the  wisdom  of existing  Internet
standards with their existing user base. Again  I am sorry if I took this
in the wrong light, but this is  just the impression that I got from your
message, whether it was meant or not.

>    I'd  like  to see  this  default  changed  in upcoming  releases  of
>ListServ,  so that  in  the future,  email  with source-routed  envelope
>addresses will not be generated unless you explicitly configure it to do

LISTSERV does not generate source routes, nor has it ever done that. Even
back in 1986, LISTSERV had  a strong no-source-routes stance. However, if
presented with a source route it  does ignore it gracefully, as you would
expect.  The source  routes come  from  LMail, a  MTA for  VM (also  from
L-Soft) which can be configured  to implement the original RFC821 reverse
path behaviour where  you insert source routes in the  MAIL FROM: address
(at no point is a source route  added to the RFC822 header). Nowadays the
default setting is not to generate source routes, but this has not always
been the case and some sites may  still have that option enabled in their
configuration file,  or may have enabled  it for their own  reasons. They
should probably change it (change 'SOURCE_ROUTES = 1' to 'SOURCE_ROUTES =
0'  in  LOCAL  SYSVARS),  but  AOL  should  definitely  not  reject  MAIL
 XYZ .
 EDU> when it  does accept MAIL FROM:<JOE @
 XYZ .
Even setting aside the fact that the standards require AOL to accept this
syntax, it just  does not make any  technical sense to reject  it, and it
leads to the loss of legitimate mail for AOL's customers.


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