[Mailman-Users] mail loops: list-request and vacation messages

Chuq Von Rospach chuqui at plaidworks.com
Tue Jun 26 00:14:19 CEST 2001

On Monday, June 25, 2001, at 11:02 AM, Gunnar Evermann wrote:

> Some guy send a request to list-request and left for holidays
> activating some stupid vacation feature in his Mailer (Outlook). When
> Mailman replied to the request message Outlook sent back not one but
> two vacation messages [1] back to list-request.

> It would be nice if Mailman was more resistant to these mail loops
> [2].

Suggestions on how?

the mailbot that guy used was seriously broken and non-conforming. It 
ignores Precedence headers, which are there (in part) to tell mailbots 
NOT to mailbot a message in the first place, and it's not smart enough 
to not repeatedly mailbot a single address. Both of those are basic, 
trivial functionality ANY mailbot ought to have -- and many of them have 
had for 15 years or more. It's sad there are still people who think they 
can write softwrae that are so uninformed about stuff they're writing, 
but that's a different argument.

Did the guy who set up the mailbot give mailman any way of telling this 
was a mailbot, or a loop? Did they include any keywords, like "out of 
the office" or "vacation" or "I am an idiot who's mailbot is going to 
make you crazy now"?

Unnfortunately, there's a basic reality here -- no matter how smart you 
make mailman, one stupid mailbot can sidetrack everytihng you can do to 
stop it. Can Mailman get better? sure. what can't? But until people find 
ways to make it better, it's hard.

What did this mailbot do that an automated systems like Mailman 
recognize it?

These mailbot loops are the bane of administrators, especially since the 
worst ones are usually started on Friday afternoon before a 3 day 
weekend, because the worst of the vacation bots are set up at the last 
minute by someone primarily interested in LEAVING, not making the 
mailbot work, and otherwise aren't configured, tested or monitored -- 
and the admin is likely gone and doesn't know until he comes back after 
the weekend that the mailbot's been sending 2000 messages an hour. And 
the idiot who sets the mailbot up blames you, of course...

If you can find something the mailbot did that (a) would allow mailman 
to recognize it as such, and (b) wouldn't cause false positives by 
blocking legitimate messages, let us know. We'll look at improving 
mailman to trap it. But the blatting mailbot is the problem -- it's 
ignoring ALL of the things Mailman's done all along to tell the mailbot 
to leave it alone and not bother telling us about the vacation; worse; 
that vacation bot isn't smart enough to know it's already told us -- it 
must think we're really stupid to have to tell us repeatedly....

Chuq Von Rospach, Internet Gnome <http://www.chuqui.com>
[<chuqui at plaidworks.com> = <me at chuqui.com> = <chuq at apple.com>]
Yes, yes, I've finally finished my home page. Lucky you.

Some days you're the dog, some days you're the hydrant.

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