Spam on the list [Was: Re: [R] Urgent ...]

Martin Maechler maechler at
Mon Nov 4 11:02:51 CET 2002

>>>>> "PaCo" == Patrick Connolly <p.connolly at>
>>>>>     on Mon, 4 Nov 2002 17:19:12 +1300 writes:

    PaCo> On Mon, 04-Nov-2002 at 09:02AM +1300, Corrin Lakeland
    PaCo> wrote: |> -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- |> Hash:
    PaCo> SHA1 |> |> On Mon, 04 Nov 2002 03:58, Matej Cepl
    PaCo> wrote: |> |> > Can the list be set-up so that only
    PaCo> subscribed members of the |> > list can post?  |> |>
    PaCo> I'm sure it could, but I would like to note that this
    PaCo> causes a |> number of problems.  For example, the
    PaCo> address I post from is not |> the address I'm
    PaCo> subscribed from. You can get around this by |>
    PaCo> autowhitelisting and similar, but it is a hassle.  I'd
    PaCo> hazard a |> guess that installing spamassassin would
    PaCo> probably cause fewer |> problems.

    PaCo> I, for one, am not impressed with spamassassin's
    PaCo> algorithm for detecting spam.  It would have given the
    PaCo> message I'm responding to points because it has a line
    PaCo> all in capitals (the first one I've quoted).  Another
    PaCo> one I've had experience with took exception to the
    PaCo> fact that my Steven Wright quote contained the words
    PaCo> "world`s largest".

    PaCo> Trying to make an algorithm that detects spam is kind
    PaCo> of like trying to travel at the speed of light.  As
    PaCo> soon as a system is set up, the spammers modify their
    PaCo> tactics to "comply".  So it's never ending.

    PaCo> The eye is a better judge of spam than a computer
    PaCo> algorithm.  I never read the spam in question because
    PaCo> I automatically deleted it since I noticed it had the
    PaCo> word 'urgent' in its subject.  Yes, it's annoying --
    PaCo> particularly if you have to pay to download your mail,
    PaCo> but I really don't think a filter is doable.

    PaCo> Of course, if someone doesn't mind trawling through
    PaCo> the rejects thrown out by a filter and checks that
    PaCo> they really are spam, it would be greatly appreciated
    PaCo> by the rest of the list provided it can be done
    PaCo> without holding up genuine posts for long periods.
    PaCo> Not a particularly pleasant job -- kind of like who
    PaCo> empties the compost bucket in your household.

Well, as Peter Dalgaard has said already,
you have **no idea** how many spam messages you would be getting
through R-help if I hadn't installed heavy filtering a long time
And yes, it's me who has to manually wade through many (not all
anymore) rejects and decide if they are really spam, and then
manually approve (forward to R-help) the several ones per week
that were wrongly caught.

The whole spam / filtering business is the reason, we haven't
been accepting binary attachments or (most) heavy HTMLified
messages, on the mailing lists.
Please also have a look at the "General Instructions" section of

Note that we have been experimenting with procmail and
spamassassin here, and I will probably start using them for the
mailing lists too.  Longer term, this might allow me to move all
the majordomo lists to mailman.

your R - mailing list maintainer,
Martin Maechler <maechler at>
Seminar fuer Statistik, ETH-Zentrum  LEO C16	Leonhardstr. 27
ETH (Federal Inst. Technology)	8092 Zurich	SWITZERLAND
phone: x-41-1-632-3408		fax: ...-1228			<><
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