Re: [R] R help mailing system configuration change?

From: Ted Harding <Ted.Harding_at_manchester.ac.uk>
Date: Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:41:02 -0000 (GMT)


I have to express sympathy (with comments, below) with both these posters!

On 07-Dec-07 07:40:30, Dieter Menne wrote:
> _• ƒœ›ˆ <hoontaechung <at> gmail.com> writes:

>> I got a reply for my previous several postings saying that
>> I was spamming the r-help mailing list.
>> I am very sorry to all subscribers if I did that.
>> But I've been reposting my message to the mailing list several
>> times because I didn't know whether my help post was actually
>> posted or not.
>> I remember from my previous experiences that, when I post a message,
>> I can see my own posting myself.
>> But this time, I didn't see my own message so I thought my message
>> got dropped for some reasons.
>> Was there any change in r-help mailing system configuration?
>> 
>> Thanks in advance,
>> 
>> Tae-Hoon Chung

It can sometimes be the case that a message which you have posted takes a long time to be sent to you by the R list, while it may have been distributed to many other list readers quite quickly. At times I have experienced delays of up to 3 hours (though normally it is within say 15 minutes).

One way to check whether your posting has reached the list is to check in the R-help archives at:

  https://stat.ethz.ch/pipermail/r-help

Select the most recent month and "View by Date". Your message should appear near the end of this archive within a few minutes of being accepted by the R-help list server.

But there is always also the possibility eperienced by Dieter:

> I have to second that, the same for me. The only way to access
> this list is via gmane, otherwise orbitl.com (a Ceylon-based
> anti-spamming list) will jump in. We have a dynamic address,
> so this list seems ban whole ranges.
>
> I have tried to remove me from orbitl; it may have worked or not,
> because of the dynamic address I do not always track. I tried to
> contact the webmaster at ETH twice, but got no response.
>
> This is an annoyance; I know that I should contact orbitl every time,
> but since that organization is a mess, it better would be removed
> from the ETH anti-spamming list.
>
> Dieter

This sort of thing can paralyse innocent users.

A couple of years ago, when I was using dial-up from home on the BT Openworld ISP service (which allocated a dynamic IP address on connection), I found at one point that I was unable to send email to any UK academic institution whatever!

The error message was:
  550 host is listed in rbl-plus.mail-abuse.ja.net The reason was that JA.NET (the UK Joint Academic Network) had subscribed to a blacklisting service which included every known dynamic IP address and of course the IP addresses which BT gave me (the "host" in the above message) were included.

For a while I worked round this because I had a log-in account on a machine at Manchester University, so I could dial-up, log in, and mail from there. That host was acceptable ...

But then I dumped BT (and not just for that reason) and switched ISP to Zen.co.uk, who gave me a permanent fixed IP address. This evaded that particular problem.

But then I was hit by SORBS (e.g. https://www.us.sorbs.net ) which had blacklisted *every* IP address owned by Zen, dynamic or static, apparently on the grounds that some of these had (allegedly) been used to send spam and SORBS had received complaints. Many institutions at the time used SORBS.

SORBS had (and still has) the interesting rule:

  "Third and finally, if you are really not a spammer,    or you are truly reformed, de-listing is relatively    easy, and you can choose one of two options:

Clearly this made it out of the question for an ISP to get themselves removed from the SORBS list, since it could amount to many 1000s of $$! (And then there's the next time ... ).

The situation, as I understand it, was resolved when the institutions stopped using SORBS, and I have had no such trouble since.

I conclude from experiences like this that institutions have a responsibility to treat bona-fide users fairly. This means in particular avoiding "automated" blacklisting of totally innocent people who have had the misfortune to get on a blacklist through no fault of their own.

And this can, in turn, mean taking a close look at the blacklisting services they consult, in order to ensure that making use of them will not penalise people unfairly.

It's all very well for people working within institutions (whose IP addresses will generally be "clean") to be unaware of this kind of issue. But people connecting from outside will be penalised unless care is taken to be fair to all.

Best wishes to all,
Ted.



E-Mail: (Ted Harding) <Ted.Harding_at_manchester.ac.uk> Fax-to-email: +44 (0)870 094 0861
Date: 07-Dec-07                                       Time: 10:40:59
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