[Mailman-Users] "mailing list probe message"

Mark Sapiro mark at msapiro.net
Fri Jun 18 21:23:23 CEST 2010

On 6/18/2010 11:01 AM, Lee Underwood wrote:
> Apologies if this problem has been dealt with before but I am unable
> to find an answer anywhere in the archives.
> I received an e-mail from a subscriber with the following message
> that he had received from our mailing list (sent by the list
> automatically). The message said, in part:
> ====== This is a probe message.  You can ignore this message.
> The Tmflist mailing list has received a number of bounces from you,
> indicating that there may be a problem delivering messages to
> knutsons at new.rr.com. A bounce sample is attached below.  Please
> examine this message to make sure there are no problems with your
> email address.  You may want to check with your mail administrator
> for more help.
> ......... ======

This is a bounce probe. Beginning with Mailman 2.1.5, the site has the
option (default in 2.1.5, but not in 2.1.6+) of sending bounce probes to
members who have bounced. This is controlled by the mm_cfg.py option

If VERP_PROBES = Yes, when a member's bounce score reaches the threshold
instead of disabling delivery and starting the
"bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings" cycle, we reset the bounce score and
send a probe message like the above to the member with envelope from
listname-bounces+<token>@..., and only if and when the probe with a
token for that member bounces do we disable delivery and start the
"bounce_you_are_disabled_warnings" cycle.

> I have never seen this before and, since our mailing list was set-up
> by the Web host, I'm not familiar with the set-up. I did see
> something about a probe in the archives but it was talking about
> something else. I'm concerned because the letter to the subscriber
> also contained his password, along with 121 other subscriber's e-mail
> addresses (the mailing list is over 8,000 subscribers).

The standard probe message does not contain the member's password. It
does contain the URL of the member's options page, but no password. If
the member's password was included, that would be because the host
service has modified their Mailman to include it.

The other subscriber addresses were presumably in the DSN that caused
the bounce that was attached to the probe.

> Any help would be appreciated. What is it that I am supposed to do to
> stop these e-mails being sent with the other addresses. (The list is
> a bit "sensitive" as far as who the subscribers are.) Thanks!

Tell the hosting service to set VERP_PROBES = No in mm_cfg.py. Also,
review your list's bounce processing settings since if the probe was
successfully delivered, this was apparently a transient bounce situation
(I can't say for sure without seeing the triggering DSN) and perhaps
bounce_score_threshold is too low or bounce_info_stale_after is too long
or both for this list.

Also, you might suggest to the host that if DSNs are being returned to
Mailman with 121 addresses, there might be some systemic email issue.
Again, without seeing the DSN, I don't know whether or not this is the case.

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

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