[Mailman-Users] Blocked By Earthlink

Stephen J. Turnbull stephen at xemacs.org
Mon Jun 20 08:01:18 CEST 2011

Chuck Peters writes:

 > According to earthlink our newsletter "may be re-added in the future should
 > the server be discovered to again be open for relay".  Just one big problem
 > with that statement, we have never been an open relay!

I have confirmed that the server at the IP you list is not currently
open to relay by me.  However, it's possible in theory that the host
(which seems to be registered to you according to whois) has been
cracked by somebody and is intermittently open to relay.

You do understand that Mailman has nothing to do with being an open
relay, right?  "Open relay" means that your smtpd (Exim) will accept
mail from anywhere and send it anywhere.  OTOH, it seems quite likely
that as you say your server has never been an open relay and it's
Earthlink that doesn't know (and probably doesn't care) what it is
talking about.

Note that AFAIK Earthlink is 100% within its rights to refuse mail
from anybody for any reason.[1]  Your only real recourse is to
convince their stakeholders (especially, as Mark suggests, your
subscribers who are their paying customers) that their ISP is making
delivery of *their* mail unreliable (e.g., IP-based blocks means that
Earthlink doesn't know or care if it's from their mothers :-), and
deliberately making it difficult for you to ensure reliable delivery
of mail they have requested from you.

 > We migrated the server to a VPS from speakeasy and added DKIM a
 > couple of

Uh, did you know this?

steve at uwakimon ~ $ host speakeasy.com
speakeasy.com has address
speakeasy.com mail is handled by 5 mx01-dom.earthlink.net.
speakeasy.com mail is handled by 5 mx00-dom.earthlink.net.

A complaint to the Federal Trade Commission about predatory practices
may be in order.  <0.5 wink />

 > months ago, but other than that it has been the same exim4 and mailman setup
 > for years.  And of course we keep the software updated and upgrade the
 > distribution software.

The IP presumably changed, and therefore you may have been screwed by
poor management of a former user of the IP at the VPS, or perhaps the
IP was allocated by the VPS's ISP.  Ie, *that IP* could easily have
been an open relay in March (or whenever), and you simply inherited
the Earthlink block.

For obvious reasons, ISPs tend to be pretty tight with that kind of
information when allocating IPs to new customers.

 > Later the earthlink page says to include the bounce message, and just how
 > are we supposed to do that with mailing list software that is designed to
 > handle these bounces?

As Mark says, you can manually set copies of the bounces to go to
owner.  This is arguably a flaw in Mailman.  In theory it should be
possible to analyze the mail and send a copy to the list owner for
many "administrative" bounces.  In particular a 550 response as in
your bounce message is an administrative bounce.  I don't know how
expensive, either in programmer effort at write-time or CPU cycles at
runtime, this would be though, or what percent of administrative
bounces could be practically caught.

[1]  I happen to agree with that as social policy/law, but that's
beside the point unless you want to discuss with me.

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