[Mailman-Users] Mass defection?

Mark Sapiro msapiro at value.net
Sun Aug 19 20:27:01 CEST 2007

Hash: SHA1

Julio A. Cartaya wrote:
> A customer of mine has a broadcast (i.e. one-way), low-traffic list with
> close to 3000 members. The list contains a mix of business and personal
> addresses.  As usual, the list of member addresses can be seen only by
> administrators (private_roster).
> The date of the last message broadcasted to members is July 17(this
> year).  On Aug 7 we received 2700 messages stating "johndoe at somesite.com
> has cancelled his subscription to mylist" (where johndoe at somesite.com
> changes - of course - for each cancellation message).
> Other relevant data
>    * This list has been stable, hovering around 3000 members for 3 years
>    * It is unlikely all 2700 decided to drop from the list at the same time
>    * The host logs show no sign of intrusion
>    * I am inclined to dismiss vandalism, since there are 300 members
>      whose suscription was not affected
>    * There was no obvious pattern on the email addresses that were dropped
> Note this is happening in *Spain*, where the entire country closes
> during July and August and flocks to the Mediterranean, so chances are
> that many mailboxes are full and rejecting incoming messages. The July
> 17th message could have caused an avalanche of bounced messages, and
> automated bounce processing may have dropped all of those addresses a
> few days later (bounce_score_threshold is 4.0,
> bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings is 3).
> In the end, my questions are
>   1. *Is bounce processing a plausible cause (all 2700 addresses at the
>      same time)?*


>   2. *I found no way to distinguish user-driven dropout messages, from
>      dropout messages caused by bounce processing; is there any?
>      *

Look in Mailman's 'bounce' log.

>   3. *Is there a way to avoid this from happening again next year?
>      (other than setting bounce_processing to 'no')*

I think there is more going on than a simple bounce of the July 17
message. With bounce_score_threshold = 4.0 and
bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings = 3, it would require 4 bounces with no
two consecutive bounces separated by more than bounce_info_stale_after
days to disable a member, and then the member wouldn't be unsubscribed
for another 3 times bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings_interval days.

If bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings_interval is 8, that would explain
the 24 days from July 17 to Aug 7, but that still doesn't explain why
2700 users would have had non-stale bounce scores of 3 and then got a
4th bounce on July 17.

Mailman's 'bounce' log should have more clues.

There is also a possible issue with changing bounce_score_threshold. If
a member has old, stale bounce info with a score of x, and
bounce_score_threshold is reduced from a value greater than x to one
less than or equal to x, that member will be disabled even though the
score is stale. Could this be a reason?

- --
Mark Sapiro <msapiro at value.net>       The highway is for gamblers,
San Francisco Bay Area, California    better use your sense - B. Dylan

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