Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(August 1999)

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Subject: Re: Useless NDRs [Was: Nondeliverable mail]
From: Nick Simicich <njs @ scifi . squawk . com>
Date: Mon, 23 Aug 1999 18:46:50 -0400
To: Jeffrey Goldberg <J . Goldberg @ Cranfield . ac . uk>
Cc: Ken Bourbeau <bourbeau @ worldpath . net>, Postmaster <Postmaster @ msn . com>, list-managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <Pine . LNX . 4 . 10 . 9908231731100 . 14813-100000 @ neumann . ccc . cranf>
References: <Version . 32 . 19990821205123 . 00f6ce60 @ unix . worldpath . net>

I did someting else.  I hacked on bulk-mailer until it can do what I've heard referred to as VERP, which I learned about here.  When my bounce parser can't understand a bounce, it sets a flag for that mailing list (creates a file in a certain directory).  The next distribution to that mailing list is done as individual pieces of mail, all with different RFC821 MAIL FROM addresses.  If the distribution is successful, bulk mailer removes the flag.

Pretty much every bounce will bounce to the MAIL FROM address, so I then can sort them out automatically.   I think sites are getting better about at least sending bounces back to RFC821 MAIL FROM.  Since I have done this, I've only encountered one site that is trying to send bounces to my mailing list to reply-to and will not fix their software.  This, of course gets them the "you are not a member of the list" bounce, which goes to their postmaster address.  I think they either ignore their postmaster address or they enjoy abuse.

It is unfortunate that Microsoft products are not yet robust enough to deal with a simple matter such as this correctly.  As someone who manages a mailing list, I can likely deal with it in a way that is non-destructive, but I really pity the individual user who is forced to deal with one of these useless bounces.

I also find that there are three or four autoresponder patterns that I grep context for and bounce for manual review that get 95% of the bad autoresponders that reply to lists.  Probably simply checking for "out of the office" gets 90% of them.  Very few false positives (but this is likely to be one) :-).

At 06:14 PM 8/23/99 +0100, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote:
>Thank you for copying your message (quoted in its below for the benefit of
>the MNS mail managers) to the list managers list
>I agree that sites (such as which produce useless non-delivery
>reports (or allow list unfriendly autoresponders or other policies which
>cause headaches for list manangers) need to be excluded from Internet
>mailing lists.
>For the lists that I manage, if I get a useless NDR or worse, a
>misdirected one, or a bad autoresponder from a site, I will send a
>complaint to the postmaster at that site.  If I don't get a satisfactory
>response, I will remove all subscribers from that site from all of the
>lists that I manage.  I send a message to those subscribers explaining
>that their ISPs email system behaves in an Internet unfriendly way
>and that if they want to participate in Internet discussion groups they
>should select an ISP that takes standards seriousely and operates a mail
>system that is consistent with the spirit of cooperation.
>Personally, I would like to see someone (not me) maintain a list
>or separate lists of sites which
>  (1) Produce useless/misleading NDRs
>  (2) Send NDRs to the wrong addresses (Reply-To or header From instead of
>      envelope from)
>  (3) Allow or encourage bad autoresponders
>Something like RBL style lists would be very helpful, and then different
>mailing list managers could simply decide what they want to do about such
>sites.  But the mechanism isn't that important.  Everyone here knows of
>a handful of sites that cause list managers headaches.  If someone
>maintained a resource of such sites would be avoid some headaches and
>apply some collective presure on those sites to clean up their acts.
>On Sat, 21 Aug 1999, Ken Bourbeau wrote:
>> Date: Sat, 21 Aug 1999 20:52:26 -0400
>> From: Ken Bourbeau <bourbeau @
 worldpath .
>> To: Postmaster <Postmaster @
 msn .
>> Cc: list-managers @
 GreatCircle .
>> Subject: Re: Nondeliverable mail
 MSN .
>> I am listowner of the mailinglist mckeefan-digest @
 btechnet .
>> Please advise me how I'm supposed to remove a subscriber from
>> my list when your mail system fails to identify the address that is
>> bouncing. This is a common problem with subscriptions from your
>> service.
>> I'll be forced to disapprove all subscription requests from MSN if this can
>> not be resolved. I know many other list managers who feel the same way.
>> I'm sure MSN customers will not be pleased if they are refused subscriptions
>> because their ISP doesn't provide proper information.
>> At 04:47 AM 8/19/99 -0700, you wrote:
>> >------Transcript of session unavailable-------
>> >Received: from - by with
>> Microsoft SMTPSVC;
>> >	Thu, 19 Aug 1999 01:34:00 -0700
>Jeffrey Goldberg                +44 (0)1234 750 111 x 2826
> Cranfield Computer Centre      FAX         751 814
> J .
 Goldberg @
 Cranfield .
 ac .
>Relativism is the triumph of authority over truth, convention over justice.
That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.
That which does kill us makes us smell stronger, after a few days, anyway.
Nick Simicich mailto:njs @
 scifi .
 squawk .
 com or (last choice) mailto:njs @
 us .
 ibm .
 com -- Stop by and Light Up The World!

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