Extreme spam testing

Paul Vixie vixie at vix.com
Tue Dec 23 20:39:43 UTC 2003

i promised sue that i would stay out of spam-related discussions, but
as usual there's a thing which i can't let pass.

> ...
> You'd be hard pressed to frame what NJABL does in terms of "abuse",
> because of the intent, and because of the actual bit volume involved.

intent does not, and cannot, matter.  when an isp hears a complain about
spam, and seeks explaination from their spamming customer, an answer of
the form "we have only the best of intentions", then the result still has
to be service disconnection.

volume cannot matter, either.  a received datum either is or isn't abusive
regardless of how large it was or how often it was received by a specific
complainer.  otherwise "this is a one-time mailing" is legitimate.  i am
astonished at the lack of forethought being displayed here.

quoting from "Sendmail: Theory and Practice", 2nd Ed, Digital Press, 2002:

| The standard for ``spamness'' which most embodies this prin-
| ciple was found at  http://mail-abuse.org/standard.html  and
| is reproduced here:
|     An electronic message is ``spam'' IF: (1) the recip-
|     ient's personal identity and context are  irrelevant
|     because  the  message  is equally applicable to many
|     other potential recipients; AND  (2)  the  recipient
|     has not verifiably granted deliberate, explicit, and
|     still-revocable permission for it to  be  sent;  AND
|     (3)  the  transmission  and reception of the message
|     appears to the recipient to give a  disproportionate
|     benefit to the sender.
|     (i)  Trivial  or  mechanised personalization such as
|     ``Dear Mr. Jones, we see that you are the holder  of
|     the  JONES.COM  domain''  does not make the personal
|     identity of the recipient relevant in any way.
|     (ii) Failing to click the ``do not send me marketing
|     literature  by e-mail'' button in a web sign-up form
|     does not convey explicit permission.  Only when  the
|     default result is ``no followup e-mail'' AND the in-
|     box impact is clearly stated before any action which
|     changes  this result, can permission of this kind be
|     conveyed.
|     (iii) The appearance of disproportionate benefit  to
|     the  sender,  and  the  relevancy of the recipient's
|     specific personal identity, are authoritatively  de-
|     termined by the recipient, and is not subject to ar-
|     gument or reinterpretation by the sender.
|     (iv) Non-personal e-mail always places a  dispropor-
|     tionate cost burden on the recipient, and is consid-
|     ered to disproportionately benefit the sender unless
|     it  was  verifiably  solicited or by the recipient's
|     willing exception.
|     (v) A message need not be offensive or commercial in
|     order to fit the definition of ``spam.''  Content is
|     irrelevent except to the extent necessary to  deter-
|     mine personal applicability, consent, and benefit.
|      We've  heard  of  arguments that such a standard places
| too much power in the hands of  recipients.   In  our  view,
| recipients  are  paying  the  majority of the cost of e-mail
| transport, and thus ought to have  the  strongest  voice  in
| what's  sent (or not) to them.  Besides which, such an argu-
| ment presumes that there's a piece of  mail  that  a  sender
| isn't  certain  was solicited.  Our advice is: don't send it
| then!.

(note, i coauthored both the book and the referenced website.)
Paul Vixie

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