LISTSERV at the University of Georgia
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Date:   Fri, 18 Oct 2002 16:28:02 -0700
Reply-To:   "Brunson, Kevin" <KBrunson@CFC.WA.GOV>
Sender:   "SAS(r) Discussion" <SAS-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From:   "Brunson, Kevin" <KBrunson@CFC.WA.GOV>
Subject:   more on LISTSERV spam
Content-Type:   text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"

My experience/qualifications are explained at the bottom.

First, here's some (not very revealing) information about how LISTSERV handles spam:

http://www.lsoft.com/info/default.asp?item=spamorama

"LISTSERV attempts to detect spams using a variety of proprietary methods, none of which is keyword based. To LISTSERV, a spam is a message that is being sent to a lot of mailing lists in a very short time frame. It does not matter whether it is an advertisement for an adult gift shop, a racist pamphlet or an invitation to a conference in a touristic resort."

Second, I don't agree with allowing only subscribed addresses to post messages since user competence varies so much. Remember that LISTSERV reads character by character and if it can't find an exact match the message won't be posted. People change addresses and don't always remember to change subscriptions (and once they switch they can't even delete the old address). Frequently, server level changes are made unbeknownst to the user and the return address is altered before delivery, so it's a delivery failure. I can guarantee that some of you will be very upset should you suddenly have problems submitting messages, plus I'm sure no one at UGA needs additional administrative chores trying to explain and then solve the problems.

Third, moderating will filter most, if not all, of the spam, but doing so would require a team of diligent overseers to eliminate unnecessary delays. Imagine if only one Moderator is "on duty" and didn't know their return address changed, thus blocking them from approving messages (I've seen it happen). And we all know the frequency of outages that cutoff access to the net.

A little known and seldom used LISTSERV feature is Topics (described at http://www.lsoft.com/manuals/1.8d/user/user.html#2.8a). Topics are essentially 11 keywords, specified in the subject line, that gives the subscriber more control over mail they receive. Each user subscribes to topics of their choice. For example, if Macros was a topic and it was the only one you were subscribed to, then you'd only receive mail if the subject contained "Macros:". Obviously, you'd miss any posts that didn't conform. This feature works well for a consistent, disciplined, and experienced subscriber group, which describes only a portion of SAS-L.

Finally, I think it's in L-Soft's best interest to solve the problem for all of their customers. I see that UGA uses v. 1.8d and 1.8e, with improved spam detection, is available. Perhaps UGA will upgrade soon.

Why I think my opinion matters: In a previous life I was the LISTSERV Administrator for Notre Dame and managed LISTSERV lists for the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame. I think I've seen and heard it all.

Kevin Brunson Caseload Forecast Council 1505 Cherry St SE Box 40962 Olympia, WA 98504-0962

360-902-0095 360-902-0084 FAX


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