[Mailman-Users] How to stop spam emails

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Mon Dec 10 00:24:32 CET 2007

Brad Knowles writes:

 > On 12/9/07, Cyndi Norwitz wrote:
 > >>    I thought you earlier wrote that SpamAssassin *is* being run by the ISP,
 > >
 > >  Correct.
 > >
 > >>    but "can't be used" with Mailman.
 > >
 > >  No, that they haven't taken the steps to integrate it with MM yet and have
 > >  no immediate plans to do so.
 > They don't need to.

And don't want to (I'm surprised Brad didn't reemphasize this).  If
they are running SpamAssassin, you want them to run it in such a way
that your MTA can refuse to accept the mail at all.  This has the
advantages that (1) you (and your Mailman) never see it, which (2)
saves your ISP the cost of running Mailman, and (3) in case of a
"false positive", a real user will see that their mail was bounced and
complain to you, and have some useful information for diagnosing why.

It's (2) and to some extent (3) that makes this method significantly
better than filtering on SpamAssassin headers at the Mailman stage.

 > So long as they're running SpamAssassin on their 
 > machines and using the standard SpamAssassin tagging feature, you can 
 > take advantage of that.  You don't need any further help from them on 
 > that subject.

Almost.  If you worry about false positives, you can ask them to make
sure that the "spam level header" which gives a "spamminess rating"
according to the number of stars (eg, X-Spam-Level: ********** is a
10) is enabled.  Then you can add a discard filter for
"^X-Spam-Level: \*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*\*" to your Mailman configuration
which nukes all posts with level 10 spamminess or more, and a hold
filter to "^X-Spam-Level: \*\*\*\*\*" which holds posts with level 5
or more for moderation.  Tune the number of stars to fit your

This header is on by default, and you can easily check the headers of
list mail to see if it's there.

 > >>    If SpamAssassin is installed, I don't understand why you can't use it
 > >>    with Mailman.
 > >
 > >  Is there a way *I* can without the ISP doing anything?
 > Yes.  Set up your spam filters under "Privacy options..." then "Spam filters".
 > >>    Lack of spam filtering is not just another feature that might not be
 > >>    provided in today's mail environment; it's a complete loss of service
 > >>    waiting to happen.  IMHO YMMV etc, but I strongly advise you be
 > >>    proactive on this.
 > >
 > >  I'm working on it.  They do have SA for email.
 > So long as the e-mail for your mailing lists are passing through the 
 > same servers, then it doesn't matter.  At that point, e-mail is 
 > e-mail and it doesn't really matter who the sender is or who the 
 > recipient(s) is/are.
 > -- 
 > Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
 > LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
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