Spam spam spam spammity spam…..

It is with some relief that I am pleased to report that Spark has responded to customer complaints and organized a “mark as spam” option for their webmail users. The incarnation I have seen seems to be available only for individual emails that are opened in their webmail, which is a start. Some other ideas for dealing with unwanted email can be found elsewhere.


A word in the ear of email providers

If you’re an email provider, try to reject unwanted mail during the SMTP exchange where possible. Once you accept a message for delivery, then decide that it shouldn’t be delivered, you are faced with the unenviable task of where to send the non-delivery report. You can’t rely on the validity of the “From:” and “Reply-to:” headers, and sometimes even the “Envelope Sender” or “Retrun path” details, because sender credentials are commonly forged in order to divert attention away from the real sender. A misdirected bounce only adds to the spam problem. Even the “Received:” headers can be tampered with.

The IP address of the system wanting to deliver email to your system is one of the more reliable pieces of information available to system admins – the internet relies on accurate IP addresses in order to work properly.  DNSBL technology is a well established method of quickly and efficiently learning about the reputation of a particular IP address. Both Spamcop and Spamhaus are well established providers of DNSBL services. Using one (or both) should help you stop spam in its tracks. Be sure to read their terms of use. Take the time to read AND understand what they do and how they work.

There are several websites available to help you do your research. The resources provided by WhatIsMyIpAddress and can be of immense help.

Don’t be fooled by claims that you are obliged to pay for removal from one of the UCEPROTECT and Backscaterer lists. If you fix the problem that resulted in the listing, the removal will happen automatically. The payment is only required if you can’t wait a week (or more) after fixing the problem.

Spam is NOT welcome

For some reason, several Chinese spammers have attempted to contact my Lisati persona with Chinese language messages – click here for an example. Any such messages which make it to my inbox WILL be reported as spam, even if the subject tries to claim that it is NOT spam. For anything that has no connection with Ubuntu, Launchpad, or the contents of this blog, please visit my other blog.


Freedom of expression

The right to express yourself freely is one that should not be taken lightly. The Ubuntu Forums have rules and guidelines that they expect you to abide by when using their facilities. Likewise, I have some basic expectations for those who choose to contact me by email.

With freedom comes responsibility. Your freedom to communicate relies on your ability to not annoy or inconvenience anyone who might hear or read your message. Effective communication depends on the co-operation of ALL involved. This might include people who might not be particularly interested in what you have to say.

There are some problems with citing rights you believe you have under the first amendment to the US constitution. One problem is that most of your readers will have extremely limited ability to influence American law makers one way or another. Another problem is that the internet is an international community – your email or blog post might be read outside the jurisdiction of the US justice system, in a place where different laws apply.

Just a thought

If you want to directly contact me related to something you’ve seen on the Ubuntu Forums, and want to keep it out of the public gaze, please use the PM or email options on my profile.  On the other hand, if you want to notify the forum staff about a particular post that’s problematic, use the “Report post” feature of the forum software.

Whatever you do, don’t send an email to I haven’t used that email address for a while, and if your email makes it past the spam filters, you’ll probably be referred back to this blog. Neither should you use or – most of the emails that arrive there these days is spam.

Advice from Dr Google

Using search engines, such as those provided by Google and Bing, can be massively useful. It can provide a lot of interesting reading, particularly when you’ve chosen your search well.

It is always a good idea, however, to be smart with which links you click. Sometimes the results won’t be relevant to what you’re searching for. Other times, the results will be to information that is seriously out-dated or flawed. And, of course, there are things you won’t want to see – some things are not easily unseen.

Seeking medical advice online can sometimes provide you with useful information. but should not be seen as a 100% infallible substitute for competent advice from a suitably qualified professional.

Similarly, seeking technical advice can often point you in the right general direction, but because technology is constantly changing, you should not assume that that the first link you visit will provide a suitable solution.

In short, don’t assume that the advice offered by Dr Google will be suitable for your situation. You might need to do some further homework before you apply the “solution” you have been reading about.