Autoresponder Evils?

Jethro R Binks jethro.binks at
Wed Sep 13 23:00:54 IST 2006

On Wed, 13 Sep 2006, Rick Chadderdon wrote:

> Users want this - you're right about that.  Even when it's explained to
> them what problems there can be with autoresponders, they still want
> them.  So it's our job to figure out how to create one that works
> without creating problems for anyone.  Or it's our job to figure out a
> better way to do the same thing.  The problem is not that a better
> solution can't be developed. The problem is that people don't want a
> different solution.

Well, they haven't actually been offered much of an alternative so far, so 
I find it is difficult to see that conclusion.

Nevertheless, amen to your comments: there is a problem to be solved; it 
is either: design an autoresponder system that never replies 
'inappropriately' (which will no doubt piggy-back any anti-forgery system 
in email); or: implement a completely new method of indicating 
mailbox-attention-status that isn't vulnerable to forgery in the first 

> There are no perfect autoresponders, and there will not be until the 
> issue of authoritatively identifying the legitimacy of any given email 
> is solved.

Absolutely; so until that happens, let's make all autoresponders as 
sensible and reasonable as they can be, and live with the inconveniences 
they impose on the few, rather than throwing them out and inconveniencing 
the many.  Unfortunately, neither position is enforceable, but we'd 
probably have more luck leaning on vendors to implement sensible 
autoresponders than we would leaning on them to remove the feature 
completely ...

And on that note, I have nothing more to add, but it has been interesting 


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Jethro R Binks
Computing Officer, IT Services
University Of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK

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