Bouncing Spam

Antony Stone Antony at SOFT-SOLUTIONS.CO.UK
Fri Jan 9 13:18:39 GMT 2004

On Friday 09 January 2004 12:59 pm, Quentin Campbell wrote:

> I sympathise with your problems. However I am equally at risk from
> sanctions or abuse from people who think that I am deliberately ignoring
> their mail when in fact it was (a false positive) deleted automatically
> as probable spam.

There is a certain amount of user education involved here - people simply have
to get used to the fact that email is not a guaranteed delivery system (as it
may some time ago have been considered to be, what with the reliability and
determination of email servers and protocols), therefore there is a greater
than zero chance that a legitimate email will not arrive with the recipient.

> For this reason I have chosen to use the MailScanner option to send an
> explanatory message when spam to me is deleted. In truth I am more
> concerned about the people who _need_ to know what has happended to
> their message to me than I am about the consequences of collateral spam
> that results.

Yours is probably one of the addresses which the rest of us see irrelevant and
unwanted bounce messages from then, when our email address has been forged in
spam sent to you.

> One reason I have moved to using MailScanner to delete probable spam is
> that we have many mailboxes on Outlook/Exchange. That system cannot
> permanently delete tagged messages through the Rules Wizard when Outlook
> is switched off. This can be a serious problem and results in mail being
> lost if quotas are exceeded (over vacations for example).

I agree that deleting spam is a good idea.

Bouncing it is not.

> I receive so much spam each day that it is not practical to have tagged
> messages delivered then moved to a "spam" folder (by a personal mail
> filter) where I am supposed to inspect them for possible false
> positives.

As you say yourself, you "receive so much spam each day...".   Your decision
to send bounce messages in response only adds to the amount received by other
people.   Virtually all spam has a forged address these days, therefore
nearly all your bounce messages will be irrelevant to and unwanted by the
people you are sending them to.

> I would be interested to hear what alternative strategies have been
> adopted by people in my position.

We don't bounce spam, and we make sure people know that a legitimate email
might possibly not arrive.   This is accepted in the normal postal system
(some small percentage of letters, postcards, parcels etc never get
delivered), and email is no different (although the reasons may not be quite
the same).



Success is a lousy teacher.  It seduces smart people into thinking they can't

 - William H Gates III

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