Cpunks List: Remove The Spammer From The List

Greg Newby gbnewby at pglaf.org
Sat Jan 6 09:09:03 PST 2024

Thanks for these thoughts, Shawn. A few responses below.

On Sat, Jan 06, 2024 at 07:42:07AM -0600, Shawn K. Quinn wrote:
> On 1/5/24 00:38, Greg Newby wrote:
> > Hi grarpamp. I appreciate your passion for the cypherpunks list, and
> > your contributions so it.
> > 
> > For your request below:
> > 
> > In short, it is my belief that subscribers who don't want to see
> > content from other subscribers are expected to have the capability to
> > block those subscribers from their personal mailboxes.
> Those spams will still count against any bandwidth quotas. This response
> isn't all that far from "shut up and eat your spam".

The term "spam" as I've understood it is synonymous to "unsolicited commercial email" (UCE).

I think it's being used here instead as shorthand for "email messages I don't want to see." Or, "list subscribers who send too many messages."

If we had people who were sending UCE, I absolutely would ban them. 

Instead, what we seem to have is a few prolific posters that some other list members would rather not hear from. That's why I think it's reasonable to push those editorial choices to subscribers.

> > Many gmail users have been automatically unsubscribed as a result.
> > This is unfortunate, but it would not be fixed by banning or censoring
> > the people mentioned below. Instead, the solution is for those
> > subscribers to not use their @gmail.com addresses to receive the
> > list.
> I do not have a soft spot for Google or Gmail, but I find the proposed
> solution to Gmail's spam filtering (which apparently has tagged the entire
> Cypherpunks list as a spam source) to be quite tedious, if not odious.

What's your evidence that Google has tagged the entire list as spam?

That is not what I've seen, or how I've characterized Gmail's failings to receive messages. I have access to another similar server from another organization with completely different lists, and it suffers the same thing. I've seen similar reports on the Internet from other mail administrators.

The basic problem is not the content or the volume of messages sent or the name or subject matter of the list, or the domain it's coming from. It's the volume of recipients.

At any time there are around 80 cypherpunks list subscribers with @gmail.com addresses. Google throttles receipt of those messages with complaints about too many duplicate message IDs or "an unusually high rate of sending."

As far as I've been able to determine, our configuration is conformant with Google's requirements. Only Google is throttling these messages - other servers with lots of cypherpunks subscribers like yahoo.com and protonmail.ch don't throttle.

This has all started fairly recently, as reported here and as my research has indicated... circa September 2023.

> I personally pay for this email address at Fastmail. I have the spam
> filtering turned down to its lowest setting to avoid losing any legitimate
> email (some of which is work-/income-related).

I presume Fastmail can filter particular incoming list sender's email addresses.

Sorry that I'm not seeing the problem with a subscriber technical solution.

> > There are plenty of other free email providers. I hear that
> > protonmail.ch works reasonably well.
> I'm sure there are many other free email providers out there but sooner or
> later, Cypherpunks list email will trip their spam filters as well if the
> root cause is not dealt with.

As mentioned above, this has not been observed. And, the automated complaints from Google are not about the individual senders or the content: they are about the number of subscribers using their service.

Here's a message from the top of the mail queue right now:

0D80811C1F4B*   11647 Wed Jan  3 11:52:47  cypherpunks-bounces at lists.cpunks.org
(host alt1.gmail-smtp-in.l.google.com[] said: 421-4.7.28 Gmail has detected this message exceeded its quota for sending 421-4.7.28 messages with the same Message-ID. To best protect our users, the 421-4.7.28 message has been temporarily rejected. For more information, go to 421 4.7.28  https://support.google.com/mail/answer/188131 cs3-20020a056000088300b003374a2fa940si600246wrb.186 - gsmtp (in reply to end of DATA command))

I am hopeful that a forthcoming (circa April 2024) Ubuntu upgrade will facilitate moving the list to Mailman3. That has somewhat better controls, which might help. In particular, I'm wondering whether each recipient of a list message could get their own Message-ID. (That's a technical topic that might belong in a different discussion thread.)

Meanwhile, this discussion has inspired me to look for additional technical tweaks, and I am trying a few on our Postfix server.

> Allowing the entire Cypherpunks list to be
> tagged as a spam source is close to the worst possible outcome; were that to
> happen, it basically means a few bad actors have the power of censoring
> *everyone* who would otherwise like to post to the list, a true tragedy of
> the commons.

Again, that's not what's happening. If it were, I would rapidly change my stance on how to mitigate the situation.

> Look at what happened to Canter & Siegel. Look at what happened to Sanford
> Wallace. Many, many other spamming operations have come and (thankfully)
> gone, as the internet community at large deems that conduct unacceptable. I
> remember writing untold numbers of messages to abuse contacts hosting
> Sanford Wallace, who apparently negotiated a contract with AGIS (a backbone
> provider of the era) where he couldn't get kicked off even for the most
> blatant, egregious, and vile conduct in violation of the former's AUP/TOS.
> It took months for AGIS to find a way to boot him. I've been fighting the
> anti-spam fight for years.

We all have.

Fighting UCE is, to me, quite different than keeping particular senders or topics out of my inbox.

Fighting UCE is largely in the hands of the mail server administrators, and I would say that the quantity of UCE on the cypherpunks list has been close to zero since I've been running it. If you look in the cypherpunks-archives (https://lists.cpunks.org) you'll find many thousands of UCE messages from those days. A modern Mailman+Postfix configuration, like we have, makes it harder for UCE to go to mailing list subscribers.

Filtering topics and senders is largely in the hands of subscribers. Modern mail clients have excellent tools for filtering. 

> graramp later writes:
> > Not mine, but on behalf of the list, on behalf of all who have
> > complained about these spammers and personal abusers over
> > the years.
> That would include me as well.

Best regards,

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