Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 2002)

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Subject: Re: e-postage again
From: Nick Simicich <njs @ scifi . squawk . com>
Date: Mon, 20 May 2002 00:59:55 -0400
To: list-managers <list-managers @ greatcircle . com>
In-reply-to: <164094000 . 1021848468 @ [192 . 168 . 0 . 2]>
References: <Pine . BSI . 4 . 40 . 0205192211530 . 12958-100000 @ tom . iecc . com> <Pine . BSI . 4 . 40 . 0205192211530 . 12958-100000 @ tom . iecc . com>

At 10:47 PM 2002-05-19 -0400, Tom Neff wrote:
--On Sunday, May 19, 2002 10:19 PM -0400 John R Levine <johnl @
iecc .
com> wrote:
Call me crotchety, but I'm getting kind of tired of people positing vast
technical edifices and then waving away the reality that they're
unbuildable, and even if built would be uninhabitable...

In this case I will call John crotchety, because he is being uncollegial and unconstructive. There is, or ought to be, a difference between healthy skepticism and a closed mind; or between good-humored, informed rebuttal and snide, reflexive swatting away. A forum like this one brings together some of the better minds on the Net, and it actually is possible that useful ideas could be germinated here. I wish that John would encourage such a possibility instead of trying to shout it down.

There is brainstorming, and there is design. This one has been brainstormed over and over again - it has to go past that point, you can't just brainstorm it again and not take it farther and believe that it is worthwhile activity. Sorry. Part of the issue is that this is just the wrong forum - smart does not mean, aware of history, educated in a field, etc. And that is the problem here...

I will point out that there is a list

Sender: Spam Prevention Discussion List <SPAM-L @

And that is probably the appropriate place for this discussion, as it has passed being about running mailing lists.

Want to hash out opt-out lists? Opt in? Why settling for a remove list is just a bad idea? That discussion is about opt-in vs. opt-out, and the reality of that is that if you let someone download your opt-out list they will just e-mail to it. Generally. And it is and has been done - exists and it is a good thing to filter on, if the mail mentions that turkey you probably don't want to read it. :-)

Is it right that you think you have a right to mail to someone unless they tell you not to? If you opt-out, does a spammer have the right to run a dictionary attack against all non-opted-out addresses on your system to try and probe out e-mail addresses? All the stuff we have talked about today, well, it is all meat for that list and in excruciating detail. And frequently. :-)


How do I subscribe?
Send an email message to LISTSERV @
peach .
ease .
lsoft .
com with the words "subscribe SPAM-L <First name> <Last name>" in the body of the message (no quotes). Alternatively, you can send an e-mail to spam-l-subscribe-request @
peach .
ease .
lsoft .
com without any text in the body and the address you mail that from will be subscribed to the list.


Maybe it is in their FAQ, maybe it is on the list. There are people there who know all the big time spammers by name and sometimes the techniques that each use, their history, etc. They probably will tell you exactly who has tried which approaches to stop spam and how to make them work or not.

My point here is that it is clear that there are a lot of smart people here who know about running e-mail lists and that some of the anti-spam measures that people take are affecting us and it is sure good that we tell each other about them and how we get our list mail through.

But past that, I don't see this as being about running lists. Were I going to try and affect how people fight spam so that it was easier to get mailing list mail through, I would discuss some aspects of it here, and some aspects there. I have also found some of the things that people look for and I do those things as well as I can to differentiate my mailing list e-mail from spam. Sometimes it works. And sometimes I learn things here. that no one there knows. I think. (No, not about bill 602P :-).

It is my general belief, about this topic, that if this proceeds, it is designing some protocol other than smtp mail. Maybe smtp mail has outlived its usefulness. Maybe it is time to design some protocol other than smtp mail, something that looks a lot more like Lotus Notes mail except that every piece of mail is signed (as opposed to optionally being signed), there is a decentralized signature authority and you decide who to trust and who to extend trust to - not only at the individual level but at the authority level and at the content type level.

The point is that Lotus Notes mail is not Internet e-mail. It is not and cannot be smtp style mail (although it can be gatewayed to that style mail - with a major loss of function unless you consider smtp simply as a transport carrying an opaque payload. It is not at all clear how it would scale to an organization with more than a few million users.

And maybe the point of this is that the place to start this conversation is in the IETF, because running a distribution list is but a small piece of how to get something like that going.

A man was attacked and left bleeding in a ditch.  Two sociologists passed by
and one said to the other, "We must find the man who did this - he needs
Nick Simicich mailto:njs @
scifi .
squawk .
com -- Stop by and Light Up The World!

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