Problems sending mail to yahoo?

Joe Greco jgreco at
Sun Apr 13 19:24:44 UTC 2008

> Gak, there isn't even a standard code which means MAILBOX FULL or
> ACCOUNT NOT RECEIVING MAIL other than MAILBOX FULL, maybe by choice,
> maybe non-payment, as specific as a site is comfortable with.
> That's what I mean by standards and at least trying to focus on what
> can be done rather than the endless retelling of what can't be done.

I would have thought it was obvious, but to see this sort of enlightened
ignorance(*) suggests that it isn't:  The current methods of spam filtering
require a certain level of opaqueness.

Having just watched the gory hashing through of how $MEGAISP deals with
filtering on another list, I was amazed that the prevailing stance among
mailbox hosters is that they don't really care about principles, and that
they mostly care about whether or not users complain.

For example, I feel very strongly that if a user signs up for a list, and
then doesn't like it, it isn't the sender's fault, and the mail isn't spam.
Now, if the user revokes permission to mail, and the sender keeps sending,
that's covered as spam under most reasonable definitions, but that's not
what we're talking about here.

To expect senders to have psychic knowledge of what any individual recipient
is or is not going to like is insane.  Yet that's what current expectations
appear to boil down to.

So, on one hand, we have the "filtering by heuristics," which require a
level of opaqueness, because if you respond "567 BODY contained,
mail blocked" to their mail, you have given the spammer feedback to get
around the spam.

And on the other hand, we have the "filtering by statistics," which requires
a large userbase and probably a "This Is Spam" button, where you use a
complaint driven model to reject mail, but this is severely complicated 
because users have also been trained to report as spam any other mail that
they don't want, which definitely includes even things that they've opted
in to.

So you have two opaque components to filtering.  And senders are
deliberately left guessing - is the problem REALLY that a mailbox is full,
or am I getting greylisted in some odd manner?

Filtering stinks.  It is resource-intensive, time-consuming, error-prone,
and pretty much an example of something that is desperately flagging "the
current e-mail system is failing."

You want to define standards?  Let's define some standard for establishing
permission to mail.  If we could solve the permission problem, then the
filtering wouldn't be such a problem, because there wouldn't need to be as
much (or maybe even any).  As a user, I want a way to unambiguously allow
a specific sender to send me things, "spam" filtering be damned.  I also
want a way to retract that permission, and have the mail flow from that
sender (or any of their "affiliates") to stop.

Right now I've got a solution that allows me to do that, but it requires a
significant paradigm change, away from single-e-mail-address.

Addressing "standards" of the sort you suggest is relatively meaningless
in the bigger picture, I think.  Nice, but not that important.

(*) It's enlightened to hope for standards that would allow remote sites
    to have some vague concept of what the problem is.  I respect that.
    It just seems to be at odds with current reality.

> More specific and standardized SMTP failure codes are just one example
> but I think they illustrate the point I'm trying to make.
> Oh yeah here's another (ok maybe somewhere this is written down), how
> about agreeing on contact mailboxes like we did with
> postmaster at domain?

Yeah, like that's actually implemented or useful at a majority of domains.

> Is it abuse at domain or spam at domain or support at domain or
> postmaster at domain (very commonly used) or [email protected] Who cares? But
> let's pick ONE, stuff it in an RFC or BCP and try to get each other to
> conform to it.

Having defined methods for contacting people OOB would be nice.  IFF (and
often/mostly they don't) anyone cared to actually try to resolve individual
problems.  Don't expect them to want to, because for the most part, they do
not.  Sigh.

... JG
Joe Greco - Network Services - Milwaukee, WI -
"We call it the 'one bite at the apple' rule. Give me one chance [and] then I
won't contact you again." - Direct Marketing Ass'n position on e-mail spam(CNN)
With 24 million small businesses in the US alone, that's way too many apples.

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