[sf-lug] wiki ... Re: I have a spare lenovo T420 laptop

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Thu May 6 16:19:10 PDT 2021

Just elaborating on the listadmin-ISP-backstab problem, because I'm
remembering details:

> This may or may not apply, and some DNSBLs are just error-prone and
> collectors of bad information, but _sometimes_ in my experience the 
> root cause turns out to be one or more Mailman listadmin who voluntarily
> signed up to receive Mailman administrative notices, which often concern
> held or rejected spam, but failed to think about collateral damage from 
> the listadmin's (or more often the listadmin's ISP's) antispam defences.
> For example, for a while when Jim Stockford was _theoretically_ one of
> the listadmins for the SF-LUG mailing list (hosted on my linuxmafia.com
> server) -- although he seems to have never actually shouldered any of
> the listadmin duties over more than a decade of allegedly being a
> listadmin -- his ISP's spam defences added linuxmafia.com to a number of
> DNSBLs as a spamhaus, strictly in reaction to the (legitimate) Mailman
> administrative notices that the ISP's MTA considered spammy.

In that area, the Mailman notices _most_ likely to trigger a listadmin's
ISP's wrath are the (default) individual, detailed "a new mail arrived
and is in the admin queue for your attention" notices -- the ones
generated for _each_ held message, at the time it lodges in the admin
queue.  In these, each listadmin is sent a notice that includes not
just the held mail's full headers but also the verbatim body text down
quite a ways.  Because most held messages are spam sent from a
non-subscribed claimed sender, 95%+ of the _individual_ notices will 
come across to a naively overzealous ISP antispam system as hugely
spammy -- unless the listadmin whitelists the [listname]-bounces@ 
address, which of course Jim never did.

Early on in the period when Jim was allegedly the SF-LUG listadmin, he
said something on-list that _should_ have alerted me to the problem, if
I'd been alert enough.  He complained on-list -- right here in public --
that linuxmafia.com was sending him a lot of spam.

As you know, Michael and Al, I run a very carefully reputable mail
operation, and go to great pains to avoid being a spamhaus.  So, at the
time, I set aside my irritation at Jim going straight to the public with
complaint that my system was behaving unethically, not bothering to
check with me privately first, and politely asked Jim for details so
that I could investigate.  Was this mail from the SF-LUG mailing list
itself?  ISTR that Jim said he thought so, but wasn't sure.  I pointed
out that if it had been on-list, it would be in the Mailman archives,
and, well, there isn't any.  Jim was fuzzy on details.  No, he didn't
have any examples, couldn't tell me the timestamps, didn't know the
Subject headers, but he was sure he got spam stuff he believed was from 
linuxmafia.com.  Could it be forged, I asked?  Mumble mumble, said Jim.

I was left with a mystery and a gratuitous slur on the ethical
reputation of my mail operation, but a total lack of details useful to
investigate.  Gee, thanks, Jim.

A long time later, I was looking in the held-messages admin queue for
SF-LUG, and suddenly it dawned on me:  Jim had been bitching about the
held-mail notices from sf-lug-bounces at linuxmafia.com that he had 
_volunteered to get_, complaining in public about linuxmafia.com being a
spamhaus.  _And_ it turned out, either Jim himself had been reporting 
linuxmafia.com to DNSDLs for UCE traffic, or his ISP had been, or both.

So, at that point, I switched off Mailman's individual-notices feature
for the SF-LUG mailing list.  Listadmins would instead get just the
daily summary list of held postings with the From: and Subject: headers, 
which listing is far, far less likely to trigger automated spam
defences (or motivate clueless listadmins to report my server to

Later still, after several incidents that revealed that Jim had
literally never bothered to do SF-LUG mailing list administration for
more than a decade, I followed up by just dropping him from the
listadmin roster.

Anyhow, Michael, please consider switching off the individual notices.

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