Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(July 2003)

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Subject: Re: AOL blocking
From: Tom Neff <tneff @ grassyhill . net>
Date: Thu, 17 Jul 2003 09:49:22 -0400
To: list-managers @ greatcircle . com
In-reply-to: <>
References: <><><><>
Reply-to: Tom Neff <tneff @ grassyhill . org>

--On Thursday, July 17, 2003 8:48 AM -0400 Vivek Khera <>
>>>>>> "GAE" == Geraint A Edwards <Geraint> writes:
> We get copies of complaints from AOL customers.  It is shocking what
> they claim is spam via the "report spam" button -- these are fully
> confirmed subscriptions.  Heck, they even report the confirmation
> request as spam.

This is one of my big gripes with that system.  

We've all known for years that people have a tendency to join lists without
really, somehow, quite knowing that this means they're going to start getting
emails :) ... or some office temp uses the departmental account to join
EMINEM-L while the regular employee is away ... or people join lists that go
moribund and then revive a year later... resulting in outraged emails
(publicly posted if you're unlucky) saying "What the hell is this, get me off

So far so "good" - just part of the joy of the listadmin's job.  But when a
major ISP gives you a *one-click alternative* to writing that angry email...
people are going to use it!  Why bother to write back and say "what is this,
get me off immediately" when you can just press the handy SPAM button?

So now, instead of a human-level misunderstanding you can clear up in the
usual way, you are "booked into the system" as a spammer, and you have layers
of bureaucracy to untangle before normalcy can be restored.

This makes me think - Barry, are you listening? - that it might be a nice
idea to have a "diplomacy header" that could be configured into lists.  New
members would automatically have it pre-pended to each message or Digest
that's sent to them, for X number of weeks. It might say something like

[ Hi!  This is a posting from the EMINEM-L listserv, which you joined on
March 5th using the (reply confirmed) email address  If you're not sure why you're receiving these
postings, please visit the list information page at or send email to  - we'll be happy to help. ]

This would require individualized mailings to newbies, but the results might
well be worth it.  As a refinement, you could automatically "relight" the
flag for everybody when a long-dormant list suddenly gets a posting.  In
fact, it might be worth changing Mailman so that emergency moderation is
AUTOMATICALLY enabled when a long-dormant list gets its first posting in X
number of months, since it's often a spam or something else bizarre that'll
just trigger the "What the hell" flood.

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