[meta-sig] Re: [meta-sig] RE: [meta-sig] [Fwd: Re: [META-SIG] Switchover to mailman]

Michael McLay mclay@nist.gov
Thu, 26 Feb 1998 05:02:27 -0500


Guido van Rossum writes:
 > > I think subscribership info should be publicly viewable by default.
 > > If specific individuals wish to hide their address from visibility, I
 > > would not deny them that privilege.  Kind of like phone #'s in the
 > > phone book.
 > 
 > I certainly don't mind that anybody can see that I am a member of the
 > meta-sig.  But I do mind if spammers can easily scrape my address off
 > the subscription page.  (This is the same problem with the phone book: 
 > I want to be listed, but I don't want telemarketers to have easy
 > access to the phone book in electronic form.  Unfortunately Bell
 > Atlantic makes too much money off telemarketers to give me that
 > option. :-( )
 > 
 > Findmail has an elegant solution (maybe Deja News too): they publish
 > the person's name, with a link to a page that contains the email
 > address.  This makes it sufficiently expensive for spammers to gather
 > emails (since they would have to download a page for each address) to
 > discourage them; if necessary, the server can impose a limit on the
 > number of times such pages can be downloaded from a given address.

Ok, to absolutely defeat the spiders we need an encryption algorithm
that humans can read, but is difficult for computers to
interpret. Encoding the email addresses as a gif image using PIL to
generate the gif should do the trick.  That would make it nearly
impossible to recreate the email list, unless of course they start
using character recognition on every image.  Taking the approach to an
extreme the image could be generated using mixed fonts and font sizes,
including at least a few Old English font characters.  The subsequent
error rates in character recognition would make it too unreliable for
all but the most sophisticated spider to succeed.  

When implemented the new spider proof mailing list will turn the
mailman into the most sought after email exploder technology by
virtually eliminating the risk of generating spam, while giving everyone
relatively easy access to their colleagues email addresses.  It could
become Python's killer app... 

It would also be an interesting demonstration for PIL.  Think of it,
we could set up a special web page that would allow everyone to
customize the fonts used to generate their email address gif images.
Hours of entertainment for everyone.

Hmmm, perhaps I've gotten a little carried away.  And then there's the 
problem of getting someone to write the code....

Anyway, my thanks to Ken for starting the move from majordomo to
mailman.