[Mailman-Developers] Reasons why personalization of the To/From are a bad idea...

Chuq Von Rospach chuqui@plaidworks.com
Wed Nov 13 18:10:30 2002

Having run with the personalization for a while (and only now getting 
around to updating to CVS so I can turn off the header mods), I have 
three reasons why doing the to/from personalization turn out to be a 
bad idea.. FYI.

1) One of my lists has been hit badly by a couple of subscribers with 
the Klez virus that evidently didn't know it and weren't fixing their 
machines. I finally posted a note to the list telling everyone to check 
their frigging machines and to run anti-virus software, because if I 
had to track down the sites sending the viruses to the list, those 
sites would be banned (FWIW, I did end up putting IP blocks against two 
sites, which stopped most of the noise).

One subscriber, a few days later, wrote back to me demanding a personal 
apology on the list. She thought that since her name was in the "to" 
line, I'd accused HER PERSONALLY of being virus ridden on the list. I 
nicely pointed out that if she looked at any message sent through the 
list over the last few weeks, they all were formatted that way, and 
that I didn't see that an apology was necessary. she hasn't responded 
to that message.

2) I'm learning just how many people write vacation bots that filter 
responses based on assumptions of what the To/CC lines will say. I know 
they're not supposed to do that. I tell them that. But a lot of people 
do, and so a lot of "I'm out of the office" blats are going out to 
people posting to mailing lists because of it.

3) I can't prove this, but... Since I went to To/From header 
personalization, I've started getting complaints about mail not getting 
to AOL users. It's intermittent. My logs clearly show AOL accepting the 
mail. And then it -- disappears. So it looks like something about those 
headers makes AOL suspicious. I had a fair number of complaints just 
after the upgrade which I took to either being confusion causd by the 
header changes or AOL not catching things right, and then it more or 
less went away, but now, I'm again seeing occasional complaints from 
people who I don't think are confused or mistaken. So it looks like 
that to/from combo isn't totally compatible with whatever AOL is doing 
as far as spam sniffing.


I'm turning it back off, because the feedback I've gotten from users 
has been generally pretty negative. message personalization seems to be 
a good thing, but those header changes just didn't go over with my 
users, and I've given it extra time to make sure it's not just a case 
of "new and different, therefore icky".

Chuq Von Rospach, Architech
chuqui@plaidworks.com -- http://www.plaidworks.com/chuqui/blog/

Very funny, Scotty. Now beam my clothes down here, will you?

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