How to test if a module exists?

Seebs usenet-nospam at
Fri Nov 12 04:03:00 CET 2010

On 2010-11-12, Lawrence D'Oliveiro <ldo at geek-central.gen.new_zealand> wrote:
> I have just received an admission from Barry Warsaw that a hack was done on 
> python-list specifically to deal with bounces caused by a list member trying 
> to reply to my obfuscated e-mail address.

That's... Fascinating.  But it does mean that the people who were reporting
seeing it were, in fact, merely accurately reporting on what they saw.

> As for those who persisted in posting my address after being warned of this, 
> I???m still deciding what to do.

I would suggest, very strongly:  Nothing.

1.  Genie, bottle, out.
2.  At least some were quoting your posts to show what they looked like,
which is hardly a great abuse.

Look... You're dealing with humans.  Walk up to a human holding something.
Say "smell this, it smells like ass!".  Watch them smell it, and then react
with shock if it smells bad.  Tell them something is too hot to touch safely,
and they will touch it to see whether this is true.

You told them that your posts were under an obfuscated address, so they quoted
the address they saw and said "you mean this one?"

None of the people in question were the ones who decided to de-obfuscate
the address.  None of them had, prior to your announcement, any way to
know that de-obfuscation was even occurring, and from all the evidence
available to them, the most reasonable inference would have been that you
were mistaken about how your posting software was configured.

When I offered the speculative notion that some gateway somewhere was
deobfuscating this address, I didn't think it was *likely*, merely "more
likely than people lying".  As a matter of fact, that you jumped directly
to the accusation that other people were lying suggests strongly that
you the possibility that this was happening *did not even occur to you*.

I put it to you that if the possibility is implausible and unusual enough
that it did not even *occur* to you to consider it until multiple people
had pointed to multiple citations, it is likely that it *also* did not
occur to the various other participants.  All they could see was posts
by you, showing a particular email address, in which you claimed that it
was very rude for people other than you to include that email address
in posts.

I would also suggest a more general observation:  Had you approached this
with less hostility, I suspect you would have gotten more cooperative
responses, rather than indignation.  People accused of doing a thing that
they very definitely did not do are not going to be inclined to respond
in a helpful manner.  Had your post said something like:

	I notice that in your post, my address is no longer obfuscated.
	I much prefer that my address be obfuscated on Usenet, and when
	I send it out, it usually is; see for instance this source
	(link to python-list) showing that my message had an obfuscated
	address when it reached python-list.

... I think you would have gotten more helpful responses, and we might
have more quickly tracked down that it was apparently specific to some of
the many mirrors of this traffic.

Finally, last but not least:

Since the gmane.* archives have that address, and web crawlers are orders
of magnitude more common and more active than usenet crawlers, I would
consider the question thoroughly academic at this point.  The address is
out there.  Further use of it on Usenet is unlikely to have a statistically
measurable impact.

Just as a side note:  I have an unobfuscated address in both my signature
and my From line.  This address is live, it delivers to me, and so on.

Yes, I get spam to it.  Of the last 26,061 spams I've gotten, it's produced
a grand total of 239.  So, under 1% of my incoming spam.  You can measure
the interval during which I cared about that, but if you try to represent
it as seconds using 32-bit floating point, it'll turn into 0 because it's

Copyright 2010, all wrongs reversed.  Peter Seebach / usenet-nospam at <-- lawsuits, religion, and funny pictures <-- get educated!
I am not speaking for my employer, although they do rent some of my opinions.

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