Mismarked mail - AWL

Matt Kettler mkettler at EVI-INC.COM
Tue Nov 12 20:48:37 GMT 2002

Well, the question wasn't "what is the AWL" it's "how is the AWL scored".

Quite frankly it's my opinion that using the AWL with MailScanner is
nothing short of broken. You can see my post under the subject "Re:
[SAtalk] AWL broken in 2.43?" over on the SATalk list about one strong
example of how the SA AWL breaks if you have a global AWL database,
something which happens by necessity with MailScanner.

I'd strongly recommend editing your MailScanner configs to disable the

This is particularly catastrophic if you try to use any of SA's manual
whitelisting features at the same time.

As far as the AWL scoring method itself, the AWL is a system that tracks
the average score of emails from a given sender/server IP combination. Each
time an email arrives it is scored, and the AWL "pushes" the score of the
individual email towards the average by a configurable factor. By default
this "factor" is 0.5.

So the final score of the email winds up being:

(normal_score * (1-factor)) + (average_score * factor)

so in the case of .5 it splits the difference between the current email and
the average. This causes users that consistently send spam to have  their
scores raised, and those that consistently send nonspam to have their
scores lowered.

Of course, you can see how if you have manual whitelists and a global AWL,
in particular to: type whitelists, the AWL winds up averaging the effects
of those settings to all users on the system.

i.e.: if I ALL_SPAM_TO my postmaster account and a spammer spams
postmaster, then 10 other users, he'll have a roughly -100 score average
when he sends to the other 10. I've effectively created a way for spammers
to site-wide whitelist themselves by spaming a particular account first.

At 02:07 PM 11/12/2002 -0600, Mike Kercher wrote:
>AWL is AutoWhiteList
>-----Original Message-----
>From: MailScanner mailing list [mailto:MAILSCANNER at JISCMAIL.AC.UK]On
>Behalf Of Bill Anderson
>Sent: Tuesday, November 12, 2002 2:05 PM
>Subject: Mismarked mail - AWL
>How is scoring determined for AWL?  I can find the scores for SMTPD_IN_RCVD,
>SPAM_PHRASE_00_01, USER_AGENT_OUTLOOK, however can't see what score is given
>to AWL.  Why is it being triggered?  This should be a valid email, which it
>is in version 3, however with version 4 it is being triggered.
>X-MailScanner-SpamCheck: SpamAssassin (score=7.7, required 5, AWL,

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