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To Beat Spam Filters, Look Like A Spammer?

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the hello-sir-madam dept.

Spam 143

Slashdot contributor Bennett Haselton writes "A recent webinar for newsletter publishers suggested that if you want your emails not to be blocked as 'spam,' you paradoxically have to engage in some practices that contribute to the erosion of users' privacy, including some tactics similar to what many spammers are doing. The consequences aren't disastrous, but besides being a loss for privacy, it's another piece of evidence that free-market forces do not necessarily lead to spam filters that are optimal for end users." Read on for the rest of Bennett's thoughts.

Lest you think that spam filters only rarely make mistakes any more, recall the instance in which after I mailed out a group of 10 proxy websites to my own mailing list, the British "anti-spam" outfit Spamhaus blacklisted two of the domains, which caused the registrar (Afilias) to disable all 10 of the domains en masse, so that the sites simply disappeared from the Web. (This happened even though our mailing list is 100% closed-loop confirmed-opt-in; users have to reply to a confirmation message in order to join the list, so the actual emails were not "spam.") It took several days to find out what happened and restore the domains, during which Spamhaus and Afilias refused to answer any of my inquiries, and have to this day not reached out or explained what they're doing to avoid similar screw-ups in the future. And this was just the latest in a long line of headaches caused by spam filters including filters at Hotmail, AOL, Yahoo, and Gmail, which had regularly categorized our emails as "spam" and caused users to miss them.

So when the email deliverability company WhatCounts announced their October 16th webinar on how to avoid having your mails blocked as spam, I watched in real time with some interest. The webinar (which you can view here), was presented by Brad Gurley, the "Director of Deliverability" for WhatCounts, who has worked in the email "deliverability" industry for 10 years. While email deliverability services is one of the products that WhatCounts charges for, the presentation didn't contain any blatant plugs for their own services, so I'm taking the contents at face value. Even if any statements in the webinar happened to be incorrect, it's still safe to assume that the presentation represents mainstream thinking in the email deliverability industry, which will determine what recommendations are made to email senders.

I hasten to add that WhatCounts should not be blamed for any of the recommendations that they made that I'm counting as "eroding privacy"; their job was to answer the question, "What is the best way to make sure my emails don't get blocked as spam?", and they answered it. The fault, if any, should lie with the spam filters which encourage these practices. Furthermore, I'm only saying that the practices encouraged in the webinar are eroding user privacy, not violating it. (If you ask every new subscriber for their name and geographic location, I would call that an "erosion" of privacy if it normalizes the practice of collecting more user data than you need, but it's not a privacy violation as long as the user willingly gives it to you.)

The webinar begins with some recommendations that are actually good netiquette, such as cleaning subscriber lists regularly (removing bouncing addresses), and displaying a prominent "unsubscribe" link for users who want to leave. If you run a newsletter, and good netiquette isn't a compelling enough reason to put an "unsubscribe" link near the top, here is a direct quote from the webinar:

"The Unsubscribe link should be prominently placed within the message body. Unsubscribe links that are hidden or hard-to-find will generate spam complaints from unhappy users who want to unsubscribe. Placing the link in the preheader has been shown to reduce spam complaints in many cases."

That's one reason that every message that I send to my own newsletter, contains this text at the top:
[You are receiving this because you subscribed to the Circumventor distribution list. To unsubscribe from this list, click here: http://www.peacefire.org/circumventor/cv-unsub.html or reply with the word "unsubscribe" in the subject.] (I give people the option of replying with the word "unsubscribe", even though that creates some hassle for me to process those requests manually, because many of our users are on censored networks and cannot access the unsubscribe link on the peacefire.org website.)

But, on to the less-stellar news: the presentation also says that the key to getting users to keep opening your emails -- and hence to signal to the email providers like Hotmail and Yahoo that your mails are not "spam" — is "engagement." Gurley suggests that senders "tailor mailings to segments of subscribers based on demographic data," including segmenting users based on city or zip code. Nothing sounds wrong with that, except that to "tailor" the mailings based on demographic data, you have to have that demographic data -- i.e. ask users for their age, sex, location, income bracket, or other information at the time that they join the list.

As I said, I don't consider this a violation of privacy if the user gives their information voluntarily, it's just an erosion of privacy, because it normalizes the process of asking users for extra data when there's no clear reason why it's necessary. In the late 1990s, you could join most companies' email lists without providing any more information than an email address; if you were asked for more information, it was for an obvious reason (such as filling out a profile on match.com, or ordering a product to be shipped). The less information about users was stored all in one place, the less opportunity there would be for the company to abuse it, or to be bought out by some other company that would abuse it, or for someone to hack into their servers and steal the information outright.

Our mailing list in particular serves a segment of the population who are particularly privacy-conscious -- they're using our proxy sites to circumvent Internet blocking software, so in almost all cases, just the simple act of being our mailing list could get them in some amount of trouble with somebody (although the severity would vary). So by design, we collect the minimum amount of information -- the email address -- necessary to send new proxy sites to the users. The more information that we asked for, the less likely the user might be to sign up in the first place.

Again, companies are within their right to ask for this information, but I don't think the rest of us newsletter publishers should be penalized for not asking for it.

The presentation goes on to say that email providers such as Hotmail and Yahoo judge whether an email is "spam" based on what proportion of the time users open an email from that sender. As Gurley says, "Give people a reason to open your email and keep opening it." The trouble is that this penalizes email notifications where you can fit all of the relevant content into the subject line -- many of my emails say something like "new Circumventor: badbadger.info", and for most users, that's all they need to see. Some subscribers have specifically said that they always want to see the new proxy site name in the subject line, because they're on a network where they are blocked from accessing their full email inbox, but they can use other webpages to see the subject lines of recently received emails. (For example, Yahoo Mail users might be on network where Yahoo Mail is blocked, but if you're signed in to yahoo.com you can see the subject lines of your last few emails on the www.yahoo.com front page.) If I'm being penalized by spam filters because user's don't open my emails, then obviously that's incentivizing me to do the users a disservice, by putting the proxy site name only in the message body.

(This might be an issue that is highly specific to my particular mailing list, because most people don't run email newsletters where they can fit all of the relevant content into the subject lines. However it's easy to think of other web applications that have a need for subject-only notifications -- Google Calendar sends me an email whenever one of my calendar events is coming up -- and those shouldn't be penalized just because the user never opens them.)

Finally, the presentation suggests that senders unsubscribe any user who hasn't opened the last 50 emails you sent them. This might set off mild alarm bells with tech-savvy readers, who know that the only way to tell if a reader has opened your message, is to embed images into the messages -- and if your newsletter content doesn't lend itself to images, you have to plant a surreptitious "web bug" image into the email, a tiny image that serves no purpose except that if you open the message and the image loads, it tells the sender that the message has been read. (For this reason, if you open an email message that does contain images, most email clients will not display them unless you click "Show images" or something similar -- because otherwise, if images always loaded automatically, spammers could use web bugs to tell who was opening their emails. So in fact, if a user opens your message and doesn't click "Show images", you generally can't tell that they opened your email.)

Again, I would consider web bugs to be an erosion of privacy more than a violation of it, on the order of asking for the user's zip code at the time they join their newsletter -- in both cases, the reason being that you are collecting more information than is strictly necessary for the operation of your mailing list. (In the case of web bugs, the "information" you're collecting is whether the user opened your message or not.)

Some people feel more strongly about it. A recent message posted on MIT's "liberationtech" mailing list had this to say about "web bugs", to a person who was asking about why his newsletter was being blocked:

You do not appear to use web bugs in your mailing list messages. A wise choice: web bugs are malware, they're invasive and abusive, and they actively degrade the security of recipients...which is a pretty crappy way to treat one's audience.

I think this is over the top -- all that a web bug does, is tell the sender whether you opened their message -- but, whether this opinion is valid or not, some people out there feel that way, and using web bugs in your email might piss them off.

Although before you cut loose the users who haven't opened your last 50 emails, Gurley's presentation also suggests trying to win them back with one last message with a "teaser" subject line like "We're saying goodbye...", or "Are we not going to talk to you any more?", or "Are we breaking up?". I hate subject lines like that, whether from spammers or from people I've signed up to get mail from. (Although now that I think about it, I doubt I'm really that mad about the 1 second of my time that they wasted; I think I just resent the fact that even just for that 1 second, they actually had me fooled, and I thought it really was a message from a friend.)

But again, we can't kill the messenger: Brad Gurley's job was to do a presentation on how to get your emails past the spam filters at the major email providers, and if using "come-on" subject lines works, because it gets more users to open your messages, then that's part of the answer. (Remember, this presentation was aimed at opt-in email senders, not spammers.)

So, I don't know that I can do anything differently with my list as a result of the presentation. I think it would be too off-putting to users to ask for their age and zip code, and in any case it wouldn't do any good for all the users who have already signed up. I probably couldn't use web bugs even if I wanted to, because the web bugs would have to load the image from a website, and if the user opened the email from a network where Web access was censored, the network's filter might block the website that the web bug loaded the image from. And for a list with many members who are still in high school, and whose parents might read their email over their shoulder, I don't feel like trying to get their attention by sending them an email with the subject "Are we breaking up?"

The more important takeaway here, though, is that there's no reason to expect the free market to deliver spam filters that are optimal from the user's point of view. In a world where users had perfect information, if Hotmail told their users, "We're going to start flagging the newsletters in your inbox as 'junk mail' unless the sender asks for your zip code when you sign up, and uses teasing subject lines to get you to open the message, and uses web bugs to verify whether you've opened it," their users would likely say, "Screw you, I'm going to Gmail!" (Which many of their users have apparently said anyway.) If this doesn't happen, it's because the vast majority of users don't have enough information for the market in spam filters to function effectively. And thus there's nothing to stop Hotmail and Yahoo from imposing arbitrary conditions on senders through their spam filters, which will lead to more legitimate senders resorting to "come-on" subject lines and web bugs -- ironically, looking more like the spammers they're trying to differentiate themselves from.

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What would Bennie do without /.? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206555)

Get yer own blog, Bennie!

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206595)

No kidding. I just checked his wiki article to see if he OFFICIALLY worked for dice yet.

Also, someone needs to do something fun with this: http://www.mccullagh.org/image/950-8/bennett-haselton-peacefire.html [mccullagh.org]

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | about a year ago | (#45207069)

Did someone hit him for writing the longest slashdot post of the year?

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (1, Insightful)

seebs (15766) | about a year ago | (#45206629)

I don't know, but it would probably be less damaging. The world does not benefit from this guy getting a ton of high-visibility options for advertising his militant refusal to even consider trying to comprehend anything about email or spam.

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207351)

You're very articulate. Now, is there a statement in the article you think is in correct?

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (0)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207777)

Oops, I forgot to log in before. Now:
You're very articulate. Is there a statement in the article you think is incorrect?

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206763)

Especially when this is like the third whiny rant about his mailing list being blocked by spam filters.

Bennett Haselton is a spammer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206801)

This is just the latest in a series of Slashdot posts in which he explains why spam is that which he does not do.
He's a spammer. Hence he's recommending that spammers do the kinds of things spammers do.

Re:Bennett Haselton is a spammer (2)

MightyMartian (840721) | about a year ago | (#45206885)

But it's different, because he advocates one singular bit of good netiquette. He's like a serial killer whose kind enough to sterilize the knife between each stabbing.

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (3, Funny)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#45207053)

I was going to respond that I frequently read far better posts in slashdot comment threads than Bennie's tedious whinges.

Then I realised that this was seriously underestimating how bad he is.

I have read better posts in the reader comment threads at the bottom of stories on the Daily Mail website.

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (2)

lgw (121541) | about a year ago | (#45207261)

Let's be honest here: YouTube comments would be a step up from Bennie's tripe.

It ain't spam filters blocking your email lists, bud, it's the fact no one cares for anything you have to say.

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (1)

ottothecow (600101) | about a year ago | (#45207125)

At least he isn't arguing that the Fifth Amendment is a bad thing again....

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207215)

That's benjfowler's and cold fjord's jobs.

Web-bugs (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207709)

"all that a web bug does, is tell the sender whether you opened their message"

Actually, it tells much, much more: the IP address, approximate geographic location of the receiver and precise times when the email was opened; his operating system, browser and other technical data that can be used to infer demographics and even mount a cyberattack against him, or further refine a social engineering attack. Web-bugs will also link two otherwise disparate email aliases, say petraeus.d@army.mil and loverboy69@aol.com, thereby compromising privacy.

Web-bugs are a form of malware in that they exploit a vulnerability in the recipient's user agent software in order to subvert control of his computer, make it submit personal data the recipient might not agree submitting, while hiding this fact.

Re:Web-bugs (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a year ago | (#45207791)

Web-bugs are also only effective for HTML based clients. I routinely setup my client to only deal in plain text. And no, I don't use webmail in any form. It boils down to using the right tool for the right job. A web browser is NOT an email client any more than an email client is a web browser. They have differing security concerns not least of which are things like web-bugs.

Re:What would Bennie do without /.? (1)

synaptik (125) | about a year ago | (#45208573)

#ohnoitsbennett

Spam filtering is not a solution. (2, Insightful)

intermodal (534361) | about a year ago | (#45206615)

Spam filtering not a solution. E-mail has a monopoly on a lot of functions today. Getting accounts on most websites, getting receipts and confirmations from online purchases, recovering passwords, and countless other functions of the Internet. One thing they all have in common is that not only are they E-mail, but they are also unencrypted and can be spoofed with minimal effort.

A free market solution would be to offer more options. Automatic, universal encryption or digital signatures applied to everything genuine would be a legitimate solution to spam, and everything else gets dropped by your server. There are some minor obstacles, but if every mail server also serves the keys for the accounts it holds, it would be a simple matter to verify what current keys to accept at the recieving end.

Re:Spam filtering is not a solution. (0, Troll)

girlintraining (1395911) | about a year ago | (#45206701)

Spam filtering not a solution.

The same can be said of antivirus. The problem here isn't the filtering, the problem is the people running the filters are, frankly, assholes. Spamhaus insists it doesn't make mistakes, but it makes them all the time. It's the same with the RBL and similar technology. Whenever you automate something like this, you're going to get false positives -- that's the nature of the game. Denying this happens makes you part of the problem.

Re:Spam filtering is not a solution. (4, Insightful)

key134 (673907) | about a year ago | (#45206767)

Spam filtering not a solution. E-mail has a monopoly on a lot of functions today. Getting accounts on most websites, getting receipts and confirmations from online purchases, recovering passwords, and countless other functions of the Internet. One thing they all have in common is that not only are they E-mail, but they are also unencrypted and can be spoofed with minimal effort.

A free market solution would be to offer more options. Automatic, universal encryption or digital signatures applied to everything genuine would be a legitimate solution to spam, and everything else gets dropped by your server. There are some minor obstacles, but if every mail server also serves the keys for the accounts it holds, it would be a simple matter to verify what current keys to accept at the recieving end.

Your post advocates a

( x ) technical ( ) legislative ( x ) market-based ( ) vigilante

approach to fighting spam. Your idea will not work. Here is why it won't work. (One or more of the following may apply to your particular idea, and it may have other flaws which used to vary from state to state before a bad federal law was passed.)

( ) Spammers can easily use it to harvest email addresses
( ) Mailing lists and other legitimate email uses would be affected
( ) No one will be able to find the guy or collect the money
( ) It is defenseless against brute force attacks
( ) It will stop spam for two weeks and then we'll be stuck with it
( ) Users of email will not put up with it
( ) Microsoft will not put up with it
( ) The police will not put up with it
( ) Requires too much cooperation from spammers
( x ) Requires immediate total cooperation from everybody at once
( x ) Many email users cannot afford to lose business or alienate potential employers
( ) Spammers don't care about invalid addresses in their lists
( ) Anyone could anonymously destroy anyone else's career or business

Specifically, your plan fails to account for

( ) Laws expressly prohibiting it
( x ) Lack of centrally controlling authority for email
( ) Open relays in foreign countries
( ) Ease of searching tiny alphanumeric address space of all email addresses
( x ) Asshats
( ) Jurisdictional problems
( ) Unpopularity of weird new taxes
( ) Public reluctance to accept weird new forms of money
( x ) Huge existing software investment in SMTP
( ) Susceptibility of protocols other than SMTP to attack
( ) Willingness of users to install OS patches received by email
( ) Armies of worm riddled broadband-connected Windows boxes
( ) Eternal arms race involved in all filtering approaches
( ) Extreme profitability of spam
( ) Joe jobs and/or identity theft
( ) Technically illiterate politicians
( ) Extreme stupidity on the part of people who do business with spammers
( ) Dishonesty on the part of spammers themselves
( ) Bandwidth costs that are unaffected by client filtering
( x ) Outlook

and the following philosophical objections may also apply:

( x ) Ideas similar to yours are easy to come up with, yet none have ever
been shown practical
( ) Any scheme based on opt-out is unacceptable
( ) SMTP headers should not be the subject of legislation
( x ) Blacklists suck
( x ) Whitelists suck
( ) We should be able to talk about Viagra without being censored
( ) Countermeasures should not involve wire fraud or credit card fraud
( ) Countermeasures should not involve sabotage of public networks
( x ) Countermeasures must work if phased in gradually
( ) Sending email should be free
( ) Why should we have to trust you and your servers?
( ) Incompatiblity with open source or open source licenses
( ) Feel-good measures do nothing to solve the problem
( ) Temporary/one-time email addresses are cumbersome
( ) I don't want the government reading my email
( ) Killing them that way is not slow and painful enough

Furthermore, this is what I think about you:

( x ) Sorry dude, but I don't think it would work.
( ) This is a stupid idea, and you're a stupid person for suggesting it.
( ) Nice try, assh0le! I'm going to find out where you live and burn your
house down!

Re:Spam filtering is not a solution. (4, Funny)

mysidia (191772) | about a year ago | (#45208069)

Your post is ( ) full of myths, common errors, and logical mistakes
( x ) a form flame
( ) a bunch of nonsense
( ) a pile of dog shit
( ) a commission of philosophical thoughtcrime
( ) Full of rambling and fallacious arguments

Your criticism is not genuine. Here is why it is not genuine:

( x ) TL; DR
( ) It was too wordy
( x ) You checked boxes in your form flame that don't apply to the current situation.
( x ) You failed to check boxes in your form flame that apply to the current situation.
( ) There is no apparent logical structure of your post
( ) Your post is clearly talking about an imaginary world

Specifically, in your rush to post, you failed to account for:

( x ) The premature criticism of proposed ideas or concepts supplied by your post
( ) Posts like yours are only written by infidels.
( ) Ego cogito sum.
( ) English is the language that we speak.
( x ) A proper post or comment, does not contain checkboxes or other oddities.
( x ) The power of Obama's booming voice
( x ) The US government's role as a world power
( ) The power of idiots in large numbers
( x ) The power of free markets (aka the rich elite)
( x ) Vendors promising it will work, anyways
( ) The extreme reach of NSA authority
( ) Solutions that seem at first to be unacceptable, may be the only option

Your post also commits the following offenses:

( x ) Discouragement of rational discourse
( x ) Nonsensical objections against "good enough" pragmatic solutions, or solution that might work, on idealogical basis
( ) Lack of a cogent argument
( ) The conclusion of your argument does not follow from the premise.
( x ) If it is simple, it must be wrong
( x ) Backwards compatibility is always required
( ) You are begging the question. ( ) You have committed unspeakable abortions of logic and rational thinking.

Furthermore, this is where I think you should stick it:

This page intentionally left blank

Re:Spam filtering is not a solution. (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year ago | (#45209263)

A free market solution would be to offer more options. Automatic, universal encryption or digital signatures applied to everything genuine would be a legitimate solution to spam, and everything else gets dropped by your server.

And how exactly would encryption and signatures make sure the content is not spam? As long as email costs nothing but the electrons they'll continue to carpet bomb us with spam.

The solution must be some form of whitelisting, not blacklisting system. Mailing lists and outgoing mail addresses are trivial, the question is incoming mail from previously unknown sources. Personally I'd suggest doing a hash collision to burn CPU time, implemented like this:

1) Server auto-replies with a mail that says you aren't whitelisted, sending the requirements both as email headers (for automated calculation) and in the body as well as a link to a hash calculator.

Example using "user@fromdomain.com" to "user@todomain.com":

Hash-algorithm: SHA1
Hash-collision-strength: 25
Hash-base: user@fromdomain.com->user@todomain.com

2) You either
a) Go to a website that uses javascript to calculate the answer
b) Use a local application to calculate the answer
c) Have a email client that does this for you
c) Have a webmail provider who does this for you

Hash-solution: user@fromdomain.com->user@todomain.comA3BHG
Hash-value: 007afcd67d58c76d786c

3) Hash is verified to be a 25 bit crash with 00000000000000000000, message is delivered and sender is whitelisted.

Some nice things:
1) No protocols need to change, one server can start
2) The sender only needs a CPU to do the work
3) Difficulty is adjustable based on server/account settings.
4) It could eventually become entirely standard and automated.
5) The sender must exist and receive the response
6) You can do it even for non-existing email addresses
7) One base per sender/receiver pair, no easy way to cheat
8) The whitelisting is only valid for that sender, not all the spammer's friends

The obvious downsides:
1) Some people won't figure this out or won't do it, you might have to use a regular email if you absolutely can't afford to not miss any mail. However, the market for "semi-public" email addresses to use in forums and mailing lists should be huge to get it off the ground and eventually it should become something your email client does in the background.
2) Lots of unnecessary burned CPU time (but less than SPAM filters today? maybe not)

Bennett Haselton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206621)

Who's dick is Bennett Haselton sucking to get so many of his rants posted here?

Re:Bennett Haselton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206725)

I'd call this one "rambling" more than a rant.

Re:Bennett Haselton? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207595)

Back when I was still living at the Geek Compound, he visited one weekend (he was a friend of timothy or michael, I think) and sucked *everyone's* dick.

-- HeUnique

Unsubscribe (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206645)

I know I'd unsubscribe from Bennet if I could.

Thanks Slashdot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206665)

I was wondering what to dress up as, for Halloween!

I'll be the low sodium one!

not really a problem (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#45206677)

If your clients really want to get your spam, simply instruct them to whitelist you during the registration process.

Having said that, I don't really have much sympathy for someone who's trying to help students and employees circumvent network policy. They can watch their porn or check facebook on their own time.

Boarding schools (1)

tepples (727027) | about a year ago | (#45206909)

I don't really have much sympathy for someone who's trying to help students and employees circumvent network policy. They can watch their porn or check facebook on their own time.

People who live at school are often subject to filtering even in the dorms. So what is "their own time" to you?

Re:Boarding schools (1)

asmkm22 (1902712) | about a year ago | (#45207009)

They can complain to their parents for sending them there. They're kids. Sorry if I don't shed a tear over it.

Re:Boarding schools (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#45207025)

I don't really have much sympathy for someone who's trying to help students and employees circumvent network policy. They can watch their porn or check facebook on their own time.

People who live at school are often subject to filtering even in the dorms. So what is "their own time" to you?

Those students should be taking the issue up with the school to which they are paying fees for the privilege of being censored.

Re:Boarding schools (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207099)

Should they really be using the college account on the college equipment for garbage (from the school's point of view)? We have similar restrictions at work, but should we really let all of our users browse facebook on your dime (I work in local government)?

Re:Boarding schools (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a year ago | (#45207703)

I work in state government and can tell you that the arbitrary and capricious manner employed in this state's filtering boggles the imagination. A site that was accessible for weeks suddenly gets blocked today. They have even blocked federal sites from time to time and those truly are work related. And given that most agencies have a social network presence blocking them really doesn't make sense anymore. Instead of counseling or disciplining those that abuse the rules, they are punishing everyone and doing it poorly.

A better solution is to allow specific times that the system can be used for personal use such as lunch or in the case of the school, after the last class has dismissed. Still block the most egregious sites (porn) but allow the others at those specific times. The employees know exactly when they can do outside personal business (such as banking, shopping, chatting with friends and family, etc) which will make a happier employee. And a happy employee is far more productive than an unhappy one.

Re:Boarding schools (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#45208151)

Then get an ISP and stop leeching off bandwidth provided by the school at a reduced rate so you can ... LEARN.

Oh, tepples ... didn't realize I was replying to someone as equally retarded as bennett.

School bandwidth isn't for your porn or socializing, its for education. If you want to browse porn, pay for a normal ISP and shut the fuck up. My tax dollars aren't there to subsidize your partying. Grow up.

Re:not really a problem (1)

khasim (1285) | about a year ago | (#45206993)

Or post your spam on /. as an "article". FTspammyA:

The webinar (which you can view here), was presented by Brad Gurley, the "Director of Deliverability" for WhatCounts, who has worked in the email "deliverability" industry for 10 years.

Just from that sentence, there is no way I would ever do business with them.

Even if any statements in the webinar happened to be incorrect, it's still safe to assume that the presentation represents mainstream thinking in the email deliverability industry, which will determine what recommendations are made to email senders.

Sounds like I should mentally replace "email deliverability industry" with "SPAM industry".

(If you ask every new subscriber for their name and geographic location, I would call that an "erosion" of privacy if it normalizes the practice of collecting more user data than you need, but it's not a privacy violation as long as the user willingly gives it to you.)

I wonder how many times Mr. Fuck You has subscribed to their lists.

(I give people the option of replying with the word "unsubscribe", even though that creates some hassle for me to process those requests manually, because many of our users are on censored networks and cannot access the unsubscribe link on the peacefire.org website.)

Setup your system to they are processed automatically. It is 2013. This is /. Please submit an "ask Slashdot" if you require assistance with that.

Nothing sounds wrong with that, except that to "tailor" the mailings based on demographic data, you have to have that demographic data -- i.e. ask users for their age, sex, location, income bracket, or other information at the time that they join the list.

And most people I know will lie when asked that kind of information because we do not trust the people running the list to NOT SELL THAT AS OFTEN AS THEY CAN.

... you have to plant a surreptitious "web bug" image into the email, ...

If my email system detects a web bug then it is more likely to be flagged as spam.

How about you only subscribe them for a set time period? If they're really interested in your messages then they'll read them and see that they have X more messages before they're automatically unsubscribed. Again, "ask Slashdot" if you need advice on how to do that.

... Gurley's presentation also suggests trying to win them back with one last message with a "teaser" subject line like "We're saying goodbye...", or "Are we not going to talk to you any more?", or "Are we breaking up?".

Which will immediately be added to every spammer's database. Which will almost as quickly be added to the anti-spam rule sets.

If you don't want your "newsletters" to be flagged as spam then do not act like a spammer. That includes "advertisements" and "opportunities" and such.

Re:not really a problem (1)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#45207223)

> (I give people the option of replying with the word "unsubscribe", even though that creates some hassle for me to process those requests manually, because many of our users are on censored networks and cannot access the unsubscribe link on the peacefire.org website.)

Setup your system to they are processed automatically. It is 2013. This is /. Please submit an "ask Slashdot" if you require assistance with that.

That's not even worthy of an "ask slashdot" question. We've had that particular piece of technology for about 15 years (Mailman was released in 1999).

Re:not really a problem (0)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207719)

Or post your spam on /. as an "article". FTspammyA:

The webinar (which you can view here), was presented by Brad Gurley, the "Director of Deliverability" for WhatCounts, who has worked in the email "deliverability" industry for 10 years.

Just from that sentence, there is no way I would ever do business with them.

Email "deliverability" does not necessarily refer to spammers. As long as legitimate senders are getting blocked too, there's every reason for them to need "deliverability" services to help avoid being blocked by spam filters.

Re:not really a problem (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45209149)

yeah..

many spammers don't think they're sending out spam. yet if they're getting filtered and recipients don't even want to see the messages then what else is it than spam? "important information about important oppurtunities"?? what the hell is it if not spam?

you're running a mailing list, it's up to you to make it worthwhile so that people don't mark it up as spam and instead mark it up as important.

Re:not really a problem (1)

Chibi Merrow (226057) | about a year ago | (#45207737)

Having said that, I don't really have much sympathy for someone who's trying to help students and employees circumvent network policy. They can watch their porn or check facebook on their own time.

Actually at my last job I'd regularly have to "circumvent network policy" to just do my goddamn job. That policy was quite literally set by Congress, by the way, so good luck getting it fixed.

Maybe we shouldn't apply technical solutions to these sort of non-technical problems. Maybe we should just discipline/fire people who waste time at work, or trash school computers.

Hmmm... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206711)

It's kind of difficult to take anyone seriously when they still mention Hotmail as if it still exists.

Invisible Hands Don't Get Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (1, Insightful)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | about a year ago | (#45206715)

[I]t's another piece of evidence that free-market forces do not necessarily lead to spam filters that are optimal for end users.

Where'd that come from? Last I checked, "free-market forces" weren't capable of programming anything. Programmers do. Nothing's preventing anyone from making a better filter.

The "free-market forces" non-sequitur bespeaks an author with an ax to grind.

Re:Invisible Hands Don't Get Carpal Tunnel Syndrom (1)

ScottCooperDotNet (929575) | about a year ago | (#45206815)

The free market doesn't really apply when there is near-zero cost to sending an email other than actually typing the message.

I got greatly annoyed by a colleague who attended a seminar from a training company that had been spamming our company. Buying anything from a spam message promotes spamming, but it's clearly effective for spammers.

Re:Invisible Hands Don't Get Carpal Tunnel Syndrom (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#45207067)

I don't think Bennie's quite ready to be trusted with an ax of his own.

I'm not even sure he's allowed metal spoons, since The Unfortunate Incident At Dinner.

1999 called, it wishes its faddish words returned. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206779)

The webinar begins with some recommendations that are actually good netiquette.

Is this webinar on the Information Super Highway?

Re:1999 called, it wishes its faddish words return (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206835)

Woah there! Don't start a flame war, buddy.

Re:1999 called, it wishes its faddish words return (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#45208713)

The webinar begins with some recommendations that are actually good netiquette.

Is this webinar on the Information Super Highway?

Can you work the 'cyber' prefix in there somehow?

What is this? (5, Insightful)

IamTheRealMike (537420) | about a year ago | (#45206781)

Article can be summed up as, "Sending mail people actually want is soooooo hard, I have to do all kinds of privacy-invasive things and that makes me a spammer!"

I've not seen such rambling nonsense for a long time. The guys domains appeared in spamhaus because - reality check - they are open proxies. Every single open URL redirector on the internet gets ruthlessly pillaged by spammers who are trying to avoid domain name blocks, so a URL like "http://my-proxy.com/render?url=http://buy-cheap-meds.info" inevitably lands my-proxy.com on spam-filter blacklists, because they learn that 99% of the time my-proxy.com appears in an email, that email is unwanted. URL shorteners are especially vulnerable to this.

As to the other ideas - hey, here's a great one. How about instead of using image bugs to try and figure out if your last 50 (!!) mails were ignored, why not ask users to re-opt in every so often if they want to continue receiving your mails? Was that really so hard? Keeping a good reputation with spam filters really isn't magic, so it blows me away that people host webinars on the topic - send mail people want. That's pretty much 95% of it. The other 5%? Avoid sharing resources that get abused by spammers - like URL shorteners.

I think Bennet may just have to give up on what he's trying to do here. If his proxies get abused by spammers to work around spam-filter URL domain reputation, then communicating lists of open proxies via email is inevitably going to break.

Re:What is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206983)

But if he did that everyone would click no, and he wouldn't be able to advertise his proxy websites.
If you don't want your shit blocked, send emails people want to get.
They will white list you if they want to receive it.

Re:What is this? (1)

nullchar (446050) | about a year ago | (#45207131)

I think your opt-back-in-every-N-messages is a good idea.

Re-opting in could be done via replying to the email. This would establish a "communication" between the recipient and the sender. It should help against mis-qualifying other messages from the same sender as "spam" if there is a thread.

For example, Thunderbird's junk filtering allows you to whitelist your addressbook. Thus, these users should be encouraged to add his sender(s) to their addressbook. Replying to a few messages might do this (depending on client and settings).

Re:What is this? (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207561)

Actually, that's why I have my mailing list set up so that when someone joins the mailing list and replies to the confirmation message, the confirmation message reply goes to my personal email address (where a filter catches it and puts it in a mailbox so a script can mark those people's subscriptions as "confirmed"). My personal email address is also the address that I send the list messages from.

I was hoping this would mean that the user's mail client would see that they're already "communicating with" my email address, and would be less likely to block messages from me as spam. Unfortunately, it doesn't always work.

Re:What is this? (0)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207547)

I never saw any evidence that the domain names got blacklisted because they were being used as redirector URLs by spammers. I've looked through a lot of spam and it's extremely rare to see a link in spam that goes through a web proxy (as opposed to a url shortener, which is more common).

For one thing, my domains got blacklisted almost immediately after they were mailed out. If it had been a spammer looking for a web proxy, they would have been far more likely to use one of the existing web proxies out there that was easily findable with Google. The fact that Spamhaus blacklisted them right away, is more consistent with the explanation that someone falsely reported the domain to them as "spam" and they blacklisted it without checking, or else that they subscribed an address to our list (going through the confirmed-opt-in process) and then blacklisted new domains sent to that address.

Regardless, if Spamhaus's system said "Mails containing this domain name are probably spam", then they made an error, and what they should have done afterwards is come clean about how the domain got incorrectly blacklisted, and whether they were doing anything to avoid the problem in the future.

Basically, I don't think the problems are unfixable. But part of the solution is to call out groups like Spamhaus that are making errors and refusing to acknowledge the errors as a matter of policy.

Re:What is this? (1)

penix1 (722987) | about a year ago | (#45208043)

The largest cry that spam filter providers hear is, "I am in your filter by mistake!". Spamhaus in particular is also known for blocking spam resource providers. Have you checked that your upstream provider isn't housing spammers or other spam resources? The idea behind that is to curtail providers that do nothing about their spam problems. It forces the users of those domains to complain to the provider raising the noise level to get them off their ass and fix their spam problems. And it works too. Hit them where it counts.... The wallet when their users leave in droves because their emails are blocked nine ways to hell.

Re:What is this? (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45209245)

I'm familiar with the blacklist practice of "punishing the whole network" and the blacklisters' rationale for it, however it doesn't make any sense to assume that that's what happened here, for a number of reasons:
1) the domains that got deleted were hosted at multiple different providers, and it's unlikely that all of those different providers would have had all of the subsections of their network randomly blacklisted at the moment I happened to register my domains 2) no other domains hosted at those networks, were blacklisted 3) as soon as I submitted the domains in a form on Spamhaus's website, the form said, "OK, these domains have been un-blacklisted". Which I was happy about, of course, but they wouldn't have done that if they had had a good reason for blacklisting them in the first place.

As I said, any confusion could have been avoided if Spamhaus had just said why the domains got blacklisted, and owned up to the error and made changes to avoid similar screw-ups in the future.

I was never a fan of MAPS, but at least when you looked up an IP address on their site and they said it was blacklisted, they said why (and if you were blacklisted because you shared your network with the actual guilty party, the lookup form would tell you who that guilty party was and show you the evidence that they had been spamming)

Re:What is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207909)

I've not seen such rambling nonsense for a long time.

At least not since Bennett's last submission.

Re:What is this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45210127)

I'm thinking of opting in to his mailing list so I can find out what I need to block across my systems!

Good job Bennet! :)

Is it just me or.... (2)

fatboy (6851) | about a year ago | (#45206787)

is this a non-problem?

Re:Is it just me or.... (2)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#45207005)

is this a non-problem?

Not a problem for me, but then I'm neither sending newsletters that look like spam nor wanting to read newsletters that arrive by email that look like spam. In fact if my mail gateway would automatically filter all the newsletters I manage to accidentally subscribe to I would be happier.

Sounds to me like an outdated means of communication whose time has come and gone (a decade ago?), these days if people want to read your content they can "go get it" with the click of a mouse on a bookmark, you don't have to send it to them. I suspect the vast majority of newsletter recipients don't want them.

Perhaps he also has a side business in buggy whips and household coal furnaces?

Re:Is it just me or.... (-1, Troll)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207599)

My users are on networks where web access is censored, so they typically can't "bookmark" a page where they can get new proxies.

If most people don't want to use email to receive content any more, fine. But for people who do, outfits like Spamhaus should not recklessly label people "spammers" when they know that their own classification system makes a lot of mistakes.

Re:Is it just me or.... (1)

H0p313ss (811249) | about a year ago | (#45208865)

So why are you sending it in the clear?

PGP

Re:Is it just me or.... (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45210047)

Well, it would be the death knell of any mailing list aimed at average-skill users, but besides that, PGP wouldn't actually solve the problem.

Someone can still join the list, using their PGP key, decrypt the messages that I send out, and take the domain and blacklist it as a "spam" site. Whether Spamhaus joined our list themselves, or whether a third party joined our list and reported one of our domains to Spamhaus, in either case PGP wouldn't have helped.

Next time, no one reply (1)

Bite The Pillow (3087109) | about a year ago | (#45208109)

t I don't think the rest of us newsletter publishers should be penalized for not asking for it.

No one here gives a shit. My advice is go talk to people who have the most to gain from allowing opt-in content. Namely, the major mail providers.

Bennet went to some marketing demo, got his panties in a bunch, and then as usual complains to Slashtards. We can't help him.

So yeah, non-problem.

I tried not to reply, but asshattery is hard to not reply to.

So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206807)

Is that why all of his posts make it through the firehose?

wall o text (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206851)

Given past experiences with slashdot front page posts consisting of a wall of text, I'd have to assume that this is a nobody spouting insightless drivel or ranting against a cautionary principle he clearly doesn't understand.

That said, beating spam filters is easy. Ordinary non-spammy emails get through fine. It's only when you doing something borderline spammy that the spam filter catches you.

In this case, the asshole was running a mailing list.

His post should have been deleted (2)

imatter (2749965) | about a year ago | (#45206881)

Then when he asked why... no answer. I originally checked this post out thinking there might be value, and I was wrong.

I liked the article despite its lack of answers (1)

themushroom (197365) | about a year ago | (#45206889)

Whenever I send or receive a URL in the first email exchanged, I wind up checking the spam folder in webmail (Yahoo, Gmail) because that's where it winds up half the time. After having it transferred to the Inbox, there's rarely another issue of getting any mail from them. Meantime, we've all had outright spams get through the filters, server-side or client-side, because the author tried hard to make it seem more like a human sent something you wanted to see. But I do wonder how a spam reply from Craigslist can wind up in the spam folder while a legitimate reply can make it to me, seeing they both have the same subject line, a legit-looking email address (some of the time), and part of the body content.

Opt-in direct mailing shouldn't be affected by spam filters because despite being sent in bulk no one receiving it is complaining, and you'd think cloying titles like "Are we breaking up?" would trip filter triggers (or at least human brain triggers) quicker than "Weekly Report for 10/21/13".

Re:I liked the article despite its lack of answers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206939)

Opt-in direct mailing shouldn't be affected by spam filters because despite being sent in bulk no one receiving it is complaining,

Are you sure? There are people who use "report as spam" as an unsubscribe button. From the email provider's perspective, there may very well be someone complaining, even if the mailing list owner doesn't know about it.

Re:I liked the article despite its lack of answers (1)

Cramer (69040) | about a year ago | (#45207259)

This has long been a problem with Yahoo! (and AOL when they mattered)... people would hit the "spam" button like it's "delete" -- and the buttons were too damned close together. And Yahoo! has never given a single shit about it.

Gmail also has the very nasty habit of classifying anything you delete without opening immediately as spam. As if I cannot determine I don't want to read *a single email* from the subject alone, or that, maybe, I've read of from one of the many other places my gmail goes (and comes from) -- this inspite of the "it's f'ing spam" button; deleting "without" reading does not make something spam, clicking the "it's f'ing spam" button makes it spam.

Re:I liked the article despite its lack of answers (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#45207649)

Gmail also has the very nasty habit of classifying anything you delete without opening immediately as spam.

No it doesn't. For example, I have Facebook send all comments to me via gmail. This is so I don't miss things. Often times I just go to the "Facebook" folder and just delete emails from Facebook because I've already seen the comments in whole batches. I have done this hundreds of times.

And guess what? None have been classified as spam.

Sounds like you're fat-fingering the spam label there.

--
BMO

Re:I liked the article despite its lack of answers (1)

Cramer (69040) | about a year ago | (#45207699)

That's deleting them from a pre-filtered folder, not the inbox. I have a few filters like that myself, and there's a checkbox along the lines of "this shit is NEVER spam".

Re:I liked the article despite its lack of answers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45210117)

Gmail also has the very nasty habit of classifying anything you delete without opening immediately as spam. As if I cannot determine I don't want to read *a single email* from the subject alone

Outlook has the same mis-feature, and it can't be turned off. When I have a mail from home, with subject "Buy milk" and no body, I have no reason to open it before deleting, so once in a while, Outlook will decide that all mails from home are spam.

Don't rely on just email (1)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#45206933)

You have a newsletter and problem being misfiled as spam? Put each new issue online (you probably do already) and offer an RSS feed with it. Some people greatly prefer RSS to a periodic email, and you can point people to it if they tell you the emails are getting blocked.

Re:Don't rely on just email (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45206999)

I much more like the idea of Bennett being correctly identified as spam. He's reporting a feature as a bug.

Re:Don't rely on just email (1)

nullchar (446050) | about a year ago | (#45207087)

The point is most people who receive the proxy list by email cannot simply view the website or RSS feed showing proxies.

Re:Don't rely on just email (1)

JanneM (7445) | about a year ago | (#45208853)

It's a real stretch to call a one-line proxy announcement that fits in the subject a "newsletter", though. It's quite the special case. The presentation he refers to was about a much more general situation with traditional, actual newsletters.

In his specific case he could put the information in the body of the email, thus forcing people to open it; or he could offer alternative delivery mechanisms through SMS or other channels alongside email for those that get caught out by spam filters.

Re:Don't rely on just email (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#45207111)

Don't go offering practical solutions; you might get in the way of a perfectly good uninformed moan.

Re:Don't rely on just email (0)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207637)

As the first comment pointed out, most of our users have censored web access so they cannot subscribe to an RSS feed or bookmark a site that lists new proxies all the time.

Re:Don't rely on just email (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#45208059)

..then why the fuck do you think that you get the right to complain that another method of communicating unapproved content with them is being blocked?

It is becoming quite clear to me that you are sending folks stuff on their work email that allows them to circumvent connection restrictions at work. Obviously as people come and go from various jobs like this, your emails stop going to the people that subscribed and instead start going to the guy responsible for maintaining those restrictions that you were helping folks circumvent. Hes gotta look at every email going to that former employees box. That man is showing you as much respect as you showed him. Don't like the lack of respect? Show some yourself.

The free market is working fine. Its your willingness to face the consequences of your own impact that isn't working fine.

Re:Don't rely on just email (1)

bmo (77928) | about a year ago | (#45208679)

I believe you nailed this entire thing down to its actual causes and why he is clueless and whining.

Also, as his stuff is recognized by various employers, filter rules are implemented to make sure that future ... mailings... don't go to other employees.

--
BMO

Re:Don't rely on just email (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45209267)

I said in the article that most of the spam filtering problems come from AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo, and Gmail. That can't be caused by people switching jobs.

I was about to read this... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207055)

Then I saw that it was from our favorite "never has a real clue" "contributor" Bennett Hasselton. I'd rather go and read all of "War and Peace"...

Re:I was about to read this... (1)

RogueyWon (735973) | about a year ago | (#45207179)

You know, War and Peace is actually rather good. Long and heavy going? Sure. But if you put the effort into it, it's a rewarding read.

The same can't be said of this article.

So this story is complaining about how hard it is (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207065)

to get past spam filters to allow kids to look at porn at school. Brilliant

Web bugs are more invasive than he says. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45207083)

They expose the location and user agent of the readers location to the sender.
The are also vulnerable to surveillance by anyone between the reader and the sender.

See story number 3: http://www.infoworld.com/print/222831

or... (2)

Tom (822) | about a year ago | (#45207183)

You know, if you get frequent run-ins with anti-spam tools, then maybe they are all stupid and broken and need to be re-examined - or, maybe, you need to re-examine the way you work, including the tough question of maybe you ARE a spammer?

The #1 red flag for any conspiracy theory, crackpot or pseudo-science is always the attribution of blame exclusively to outside forces. If nobody listens to you, it must be because of a conspiracy to cover things up, or the establishment trying to put you down, or whatever.

As other posters have outlined: You had open proxies, thus you rightfully belonged on the blocklists. If you re-examine your other problems, you might also find that everything works as it should in the anti-spam world, except for the spammers.

Re:or... (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45207671)

If you're sending mail only to people who have signed up to receive your mails and replied to the confirmation message, then you're not a spammer, are you?

Saying "open proxies properly belong on blocklists", you might be confusing open SMTP relays (where most mail originating from them is spam, which is why they're blacklisted) with open web proxies (where most emails containing the name of the proxy site, are not spam).

You realize that the guy who said our mails were blacklisted because some spammer had borrowed our proxy site and used it in their own spams, was just guessing. And there was no reason to think that guess was correct, since if a spammer wanted to do that, they would just use one of many web proxies already out there, instead of signing up to get the new ones.

Re:or... (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#45208141)

If you're sending mail only to people who have signed up to receive your mails and replied to the confirmation message, then you're not a spammer, are you?

That depends on if they have the unconditional authority to make those decisions about that email address. Clearly in every case that you are bitching about actual frequent ("systematic") spam filter problems, the user themselves never had any pretense of unrestricted email access. Work email accounts, university email accounts, free email accounts, and so on.

An alternative to your theory that you are the victim of anti-spam technology is that you and the service owners are both victim of the people that replied to your confirmation message, and another theory is that the only victim is the service owner making you one of the villains.

Re:or... (1)

bennetthaselton (1016233) | about a year ago | (#45209201)

If you're sending mail only to people who have signed up to receive your mails and replied to the confirmation message, then you're not a spammer, are you?

That depends on if they have the unconditional authority to make those decisions about that email address.

Not under any commonly accepted definition of "spam".

Under virtually every commonly accepted definition, you're not a spammer if you receive the email owner's consent to send them mail (as verified by them replying to a confirmation message that was sent only to them). It's not your responsibility to determine whether the email address owner had the "right" to make decisions about that email address.

Otherwise, every email sender in the world could be branded a "spammer", if someone happened to subscribe to their list using an email address where someone else had the authority to make decisions about that email address, and didn't want that person joining any lists.

Re:or... (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about a year ago | (#45209305)

oooh... if it only were so.

people will regard hot spam just as much spammy as cold spam. even more so, because with cold spam I might not know of the service.

with hot spam I know of the service. but hot spam is sent out to "remind" me that the service exists. the way the "optimizer" web admins do it is that since they have stats that they get more hits on the day they send out spam then it must be working! never mind if people will never return then again because the notice the spam was indeed spam and the site had nothing new on it worth sending email out about.

Long-time, no chat (1)

SethJohnson (112166) | about a year ago | (#45208197)

Tom,

Hey, it's been a while. Remember me? We were friends on MySpace a few years back. I've moved on to a new social service. Do you want to join me on Friendster?

Take care,

Seth

Re:or... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45208379)

Your a moron who has no clue. He isn't a spammer. He's sending emails to people who requested them!!!!

The problem is that anti-spam filters are kicking in because they are violating the privacy of users.

email is the problem (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | about a year ago | (#45207605)

stop using email for mailing list subscriptions entirely, this would be more appropriately handled through RSS. however that would require actual opt-in instead of "we got you to click on yes so you are opted in"

Bennett Haselton (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about a year ago | (#45208107)

Can you please quit posting this morons thoughts like he is someone who matters? Is he one of the DICE flunkies or something? No one gives a shit about his ignorance. Just because he created a couple websites doesn't mean he has a clue or is authoritative on any subject, including the ones he's created the websites for.

Yes, I know who he is.

Yes, he's a fucking idiot. Stop posting his ridiculous diatribes.

STOP POSTING BENNETT'S SPAM! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45208275)

That will go a long way to stopping spam on /.

TL;ADD (1)

Kuranes (610880) | about a year ago | (#45208687)

But that's what my mom did for years! A typical email from her:

From: Mom
To/CC: Me, "Me", <Me"
Subject: home

Body:
dio you wants us to come
go on youtub theres a nice video
your mom

And my spam filters aren't filtering those.

Jon Katz 2.0 (1)

gmhowell (26755) | about a year ago | (#45208729)

Bennet Haselton isn't Jon Katz 2.0.

Katz's mindless ramblings were at least occasionally interesting.
The editors had the good sense to list Katz as an editor himself so that he could be filtered away.

Curse myself for not noticing the submitter before clicking the link. Curse /. and especially soul kill for making it necessary for me to read who the submitter is.

summary tl;dr marked as spam. (1)

Jamie Ian Macgregor (3389757) | about a year ago | (#45208971)

jeeze

You can't solve an economic problem this way (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about a year ago | (#45209003)

Spam is an economic problem. People will respond to this by praising their favorite spam filters, and ignoring the obvious fact that the filters don't solve the problem, and never will solve the problem. Spam is present not to piss you off but because spammers make money by sending it out. If you truly want to stop spam, no number or combination of technical fixes, legislative proposals, public executions, user education, or forum posts will do. The one and only way to stop spam is to prevent the spammers from getting paid. We have ways to do this, that have been demonstrated. We just need to actually follow through with it. If spammers don't get paid, they will get out of the business.

Good for you! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45209749)

I give people the option of replying with the word "unsubscribe", even though that creates some hassle for me to process those requests manually, because many of our users are on censored networks and cannot access the unsubscribe link on the peacefire.org website

Oh, if all mailing lists were so insightful. Besides, not all of your users are reading your mail "in the browser".

But here you lost me: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45209795)

Following up on myself:

You do not appear to use web bugs in your mailing list messages. A wise choice: web bugs are malware [...]

I think this is over the top -- all that a web bug does, is tell the sender whether you opened their message -- but, whether this opinion is valid or not, some people out there feel that way, and using web bugs in your email might piss them off.

Well, I think it's not over the top, but as far as I'm concerned, I never "open" any mail, since my MUA can't load images or any other links and can't do active content. Heck, my browser's javascript is disabled by default most of the time.

"Are we breaking up?"

Yes, it seems we have already.

tl;dr (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#45209937)

That litany just got flagged by my internal filter... [$MaxLength >> x]

hey spammers! (2)

martin-boundary (547041) | about a year ago | (#45210597)

Just because you think you're not a spammer doesn't make you not a spammer.

Spam is in the eye of the beholder, and that's not you.

So chill out, accept that your newsletter isn't the best thing since sliced bread, and that the fact you're sending it to someone who was probably tricked into subscribing, but changed their mind once they read the first paragraph, doesn't make it legitimate for all time or any time at all.

The Internet doesn't owe you a living. Don't send out your messages, make a website and leave them there. If people want to read them, they'll come. Peace.

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