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Re: calling Philip Hands <phil@hands.com> [the long version]

On Thu, Jun 03, 1999 at 09:27:15AM +1000, Craig Sanders wrote:
> using DUL has nothing to do with "ghettos" - it is entirely to do with
> the undisputable fact that almost all spam comes directly from dialup IP
> addresses, sent from throw-away dialup accounts.

Well, I send stuff that isn't spam from a dialup IP.

Do you assert that I am a spammer?  Yes or no?  Answer the question.  It is
not beside the point in any way, shape or form.  If anti-spam tools affect
non-spammers, then they are by definition insufficient specific in their

> you miss the point entirely.  here it is:

Like Paul Vixie and all the other people who would blow up a 1000-room
hotel because the residents of a few rooms are not worthy to live, you keep
*AVOIDING* the issue of innocent bystanders.


That's perfectly true.  Unfortunately, with tools like the DUL, you are
effectively asserting something else:


> what this means is that if someone *chooses* not to receive mail from
> known spammers using the MAPS RBL, or from open relays using the ORBS
> RBL, or from dialup IP addresses using the MAPS DUL or IMRSS DSSL
> then that is THEIR choice. no-one is forcing it on them, use of these
> services is completely voluntary.

Yes, blacklisting is engaged in voluntarily by the blacklisters.  I didn't
sign up to have my non-spam mail thrown away because it might have been
spam.  And the people that have mailed me with questions but couldn't get
an answer probably didn't for my replies to get thrown away either.  But
their ISP's decided what was best for them, and who they should and should
not receive mail from.

Sure, they can switch to an ISP that doesn't implement such a policy.  If
they even understand these issues, or if their ISP has told them there is
such a policy in the first place.  Oh well, screw them for being ignorant.
They have no right to engage in unfettered electronic correspondence with
people if they can't bother to educate themselves about their ISP's
anti-spam policies.

> it is oafish of you to attack paul vixie for providing a free and very
> useful service which many people voluntarily choose to use because it
> has demonstrated it's worth in reducing spam.

Who cares if it takes a few non-spam mails with it?

Sophisticated computer users in so many areas are critical of tools that
are insufficiently accurate in performing their tasks.  Unfortunately,
this demanding attitude seems to fall by the wayside when it comes to tools
like Paul Vixie's.

Paul Vixie wrote cron.  So let's turn to cron for an example.

If somebody had a /etc/cron.deny file, but no /etc/cron.allow, and if for
some reason users not listed in cron.deny were prevented from using cron,
we'd rightly conclude that there was something wrong with cron's exclusion
mechanism, and a bug would filed.

Why is it any different for mail messages that *might* be spam?  Because
it's a hard problem?  Well, damn.  I guess we'll just have to give up
working on all unsolved problems.  No sense improving the tools we've got
if we can just marginalize the people who fall through the cracks and do
such unspeakable things as failing to use a mail relay.

> as far as the DUL blocks go, they are becoming the only thing around
> which *can* block spam. using open relays is going out of fashion
> amongst spammers (partly because it's becoming illegal to steal computer
> resources like that in most parts of the world, but mostly due to the
> efforts of MAPS and ORBS)....what this means is that spammers now use
> dialup accounts to send spam directly to their victims.

Well, damn me for living in the ghetto.  Pardon me, I've just been arrested
for driving while black.

Was my message spam or not?  Are all SMTP connections originating from
dynamically allocated IP's a priori spam?  Hell, is that even true a
posteriori?  Some Venn diagrams and set theory may be helpful to illustrate
the point.

> legitimate, non-spamming users can still get their mail out by using
> their ISP's mail relay. blocking direct mail from dialup IP addresses
> is a GOOD THING, with insignificant side-effects. it blocks spam very

Insignificant to you.  Not insignificant to Dale Scheetz or me.  Dale may
choose to work around the problem, and not feel slighted by overbroad rules
that trash legitimate mail.  I do, and justifiably.  I've sent mail that
was thrown away for being spam...when it wasn't.

> effectively (DUL is way more effective than other RBLs), and it also
> serves to put responsibility for spammers back onto the ISPs who sell
> them accounts.

DUL has also proven itself effective at throwing away non-spam mails.

Well, damnit, that would be a problem if all the non-spammers would just
move out the ghetto, wouldn't it?

Use of a mail relay should be an OPTION, not a necessity.

> in summary: if you don't like it, then tough luck - no one is under any
> obligation to receive your mail. if you want to communicate with people,
> it's up to you to do so in an acceptable manner.

Acceptable?  What is unacceptable about the way I communicate now?  Where
is the offer to MAKE MONEY FAST in this mail?

> [ it seems obvious that you know little about the fight against spam ]

No, I'm just old enough to remember when it wasn't a significant problem,
and there were plenty of IP addresses to go around.  The paucity of
remaining IPv4 addresses and the commercialization of the net over the past
several years has indeed caused problems.

So, do we let spammers change the rules for us, or do we let them win by
trashing legitimate mail through the application of overbroad rules, and
thus create "ghettos" on the Internet.

Prejudice (literally, to pre-judge) is considered a bad thing in real life,
and it's a bad thing on the net, too.

> ORBS has no relationship to MAPS. in fact, there have been bitter
> arguments between the two groups.  ORBS people seem to think that MAPS
> is nowhere near agressive enough in blocking open relay hosts, and MAPS
> people seem to think that ORBS people are dangerous loons with a touchy
> trigger-finger.

Maybe the hysterical people who run ORBS would have come up with their
scheme if Paul Vixie hadn't sewn the seeds, maybe not.  As it stands (and
I've read the websites), their effort cannot plausibly be considered as
anything but an offshoot of the MAPS project.

I don't see why the MAPS folks should be upset with ORBS at all.  The
difference between the two is in degree, not in kind.

MAPS tolerates a legitimate mail throwaway ratio of A:C, whereas ORBS is
not, and implements something like B:C, where B > A.

They're splitting hairs.  I say the whole practice is wrongheaded.  Even
people who run a mail filter (of any kind) on their own mailbox may
justifiable be perturbed when a piece of mail the consider worth reading
gets thrown in with the spam (or deleted without even being read) due to
the application of overbroad rules.

But it's a ballsy person who says that it's someone ELSE'S fault that their
filter threw away legit mail.

> the truth, as usual, lies somewhere in between both extreme views.

Yes, I see.  The One True Acceptable Legitimate Mail Throwaway Ratio is
D:C, where A < D < B.  Thanks for clearing that up.

G. Branden Robinson              |   If you wish to strive for peace of soul,
Debian GNU/Linux                 |   then believe; if you wish to be a
branden@ecn.purdue.edu           |   devotee of truth, then inquire.
cartoon.ecn.purdue.edu/~branden/ |   -- Friedrich Nietzsche

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