[Beowulf] Apologies for the spam/virus yesterday

Erik Paulson epaulson at cs.wisc.edu
Wed Feb 8 12:31:57 PST 2006

On Wed, Feb 08, 2006 at 11:54:31AM -0800, Donald Becker wrote:
> After having a near-perfect record of keeping out spam and virus 
> email, one slipped through yesterday.

Which is why we all have defense-in-depth, so our local scanners 
should hopefully have picked it up. (That said, I certainly appreciate
all that you've done to keep spam off the list but still have a very
open list)

> It's a good example of why mailing lists can't be auto-moderated. 
> The current elaborate system requires heavy human moderation, and this 
> message still slid past everything and was automatically approved.

> Please keep this event in mind before you complain that your message was 
> held for moderation.  95-99% (depending on the day) of inbound mail to the 
> mailing lists is immediately discarded as obvious viruses and spam.  
> Only very low scoring mail from approved subscribers is eligible for 
> auto-approval 

How about applying one of the gpg-signature checking patches to Mailman,
and allowing more people to become "approved subscribers"? Assuming
people don't have their client set to cache their private key unecrypted,
viruses won't be able to send email as subscribed users. 

> The rest is held for manual moderation. Only about 2% of 
> those held messages are valid postings.  That means about 50 messages 
> manually discarded for each manually approved posting.  And except for a 
> few weeks scattered over the history of the list, I've been the sole or 
> primary moderator.

I don't know if it's fesible, but maybe you can get some volunteers to
help with that? 

> The bottom line is that we are considering a message board format to
> replace the mailing list.  It would have required logins to 
> post, and retroactive moderation to delete advertising and trolls.
> Any opinions?

I hate message boards. I like my mail client's threading, my mbox archives,
the ease that I can forward something on to co-workers, with comments
embedded, multiple mirrors of the list archives, and the better aggregation
that email gives (I still like my inbox better than RSS feeds)


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