July 03, 2003
What's more rude?

Today I found some time to flick through my personal email inbox. As usual it was 95% spam, even after SpamAssassin has done it's thorough job... I did get, however, some personal emails from some friends and from some bloggers (sorry for ignoring them for so long) , including a reply by email to a comment I had posted to Steve Hatch's weblog recently.

After replying to the message from Steve, I almost instantly got a new email from my mailer daemon, telling me:

I'm afraid I wasn't able to deliver your message to the following addresses.
This is a permanent error; I've given up. Sorry it didn't work out.

Connected to but sender was rejected.
Remote host said: 550 5.0.0 Mail rejected due to possible SPAM

Who? ...me? Replying to an email I had just received? I don't think so... Ok so I was using a web-based interface (Squirrelmail) , but my mail server is neither an open relay nor did my email contain any of the stuff spam filters would usually choke on (correctly formed headers, no inappropriate or marketing-like content)...

Now I'm wondering: what's more rude: Steve's approach of slapping my email back to sender like this, or my approach, which is to simply let Spam Assassin do its job and trusting it so much (too much?) that I never check what's dumped in my spam-box? If you email me and I never reply, your email might just have been taken by my spamfilter, and I would never know...?

For confirmed delivery, use instant messaging to reach me, please :-)

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Neither approach is rude. What you are seeing is simply the result of e-mail having outgrown it's scaling capabilites.

Posted by: Arve on July 3, 2003 05:50 PM

Anders -- My apologies for the apparent rudeness, but there was certainly nothing directed specifically at you or your domain.

Unfortunately, I have to agree with Arve; Indeed email has become a wasteland of irreverence.

In fact, buddy John, who (tirelessly) manages the server hatch.org is hosted, has been fighting an every growing uphill battle with SPAM.

Unfortunately this has required him to move in the direction of Whitelists, IP blocking and top-level domain blocking, which results in, regrettably, a few false-positives.

I wish there was a simple answer to this problem, but in an ideal situation commercial organizations would respect customers and not try to beat them incessantly with mind-numbing garbage.

SPAM has effectively transformed an efficient means of communication into a bastion of nonsense.

Thanks for the email :-)

Posted by: Steven Hatch on July 3, 2003 11:18 PM


No worries, no offense taken... I think I was just intrigued why I'd been blocked...

Looks like converseing via blog comments will be our best bet until we bother implementing email challenge/response mechanisms and white-lists to limit the daily inbox-flooding...

Sad but true; these spamming bastards have to a large extent ruined the once useful tool of email...

(cross-posted to http://www.hatch.org/b2/archives/p/1249/more/1/c/1 )

Posted by: Anders on July 4, 2003 02:58 AM

why don't you use spam arrest or something similar? dunno if there are any free alternatives to that, but with a little fee you're assured of not getting any spam plus there are no false positives or any other such mess either.. maybe a little effort on the part of original poster maybe, but that's one time


Posted by: san on August 14, 2003 12:25 AM

i personally use POPFile to get rid of spam.
you can specify words, and if that word appears in the From, To or Subject line, the mail gets sorted by whatever sorting directions you gave the POPFile program.
when i give out my email address to someone new, to make sure they don't get sorted into my spam box, i ask them to add a very specific word to their subject line (like purplegator or pinkanchovies) so that they get identified correctly from the very start

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hatch.org: SPAM false-positives can be rude (July 3, 2003 11:37 PM)
"This is the unfortunate result of the "every growing uphill battle with SPAM", but apparently an email to me from Anders Jacobsen was rejected due to some of the drastic, but efficient, measures John has been applying to the server. Anders bring..."

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