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April 1991


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Benoit Laplante <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 11 Apr 91 09:24:12 EDT
text/plain (54 lines)
   The "failure report loop problem" is a well known feature of e-mail
posting lists such as SCREEN-L. If it may be of some comfort to people
on this list, SPSSX-L, to which I also subscribe, has just begun to
live another episode of this serial...
   For what I understand of it, such a loop is created when a posting
bounces back at the node to which it was sent before reaching the
destination account. The three most common causes for such rejection
are "disk quota exceeded" (the system doesn't allow people who use
their full disk space to receive additionnal messages), "bad address"
(usually a no more good one) or an instruction provided by the end
user to reject all e-mail for a while (available in some systems,
useful for vacations).
   The problem is that some mailers send back the posting not to the
original sender (v.g. myself sending this message to SCREEN-L) but to the
list that redistributed it worldwide. The bounced back message is then
redistributed to everyone on the list including, of course, to the
address where it has already been rejected and so on. This is how the
loops is created.
   Technically, this means that the mailer sends back to the address written
in the "Sender" field of the heading instead of the address written in the
"From" field. So, basically, what is wrong is the mailer or some other piece
of software performing such a task. And those pieces of software
are apparently a common feature in UK: most loops start by a message
rejected by some UK node.
   The only true solution is to correct the software. For reasons I can't
understand, it hasn't been done event though the problem is a plague and
has been known for years.
   If I am not mistaken, one simple solution available to the list
owner is to limit the permission to use the list for redistribution to
people already subscribing to it. Unless mailers start to subscribe
themselves to SCREEN-L, whe shouldn't then hear from them anymore. More
precisely, the list owner may still receive the junk but at least only
   Since the subscription, review and use can be set public (open) or private
independently, it shouldn't cause any problem to future subscribers and
wouldn't transfer to the list owner the burden of processing new
subscriptions and postings. Let's call that safe sex... It would be advisable
though to write in the list heading that one has first to subscribe in
order to use the list.
   Hope this helps.
Benoit Laplante
Montreal (Quebec)
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