No more AOL forwards yay!


#1

I just like to say - good. AOL sux and there is no need to allow spammers to set up quick dreamhost accounts and spam away at AOL noobs.

I hate spam so much! Any steps toward reducing it are good.


#2

Who said anything about spammers setting up DreamHost accounts? Did you read the article on the status web site at all yet?

For the most part the problem is DreamHost customers who are not aware of how AOL handles spam and its consequences. It’s not Kingpin Spammer, but Joe Blow who likes having his mail from different providers end up in the same mailbox. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should, and because of how AOL operates one should not forward messages to them anymore.

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#3

I administer several non-profit sites and make extensive use of email aliases so that sensible domain addresses related to organizational roles get forwarded to the relevant member. In the past, this allowed me to set up addresses for organizational roles and simply point them to the current occupant of those roles. Now, if the treasurer or newsletter editor or whatever is an AOL person, I’m screwed. I have to find every web page and script the generic address was used and replace it with a frangible, personal email address. I guess in a way I’m one of those Joe Blow’s who’s the problem.


#4

There’s no need to update every webpage - just give your Editor or whoever a E-mail address at dreamhost and use your aliases to point there instead of the normal AOL address. Simple, and a lot less trouble than updating webpages.

–Matttail
art.googlies.net - personal website


#5

Haggis,

Another “version” of mattail’s suggestion -

I’d suggest rather than going the “find every web page and script the generic address was used and replace it with a tangible, personal email address” route, you consider arranging for these persons to utilize a Gmail address for their “role” account.

It has worked great for me, once I explained it to the user, and they love Gmail. I even have a couple that simply pass the gmail account credentials to the new “role holder” when there is a change, and I don’t even have to change the aliases.

Just a thought…
–rlparker


#6

Whoever said spammers setting up dreamhost accounts? I did!

I refer only to people who do not actively maintain their email address lists, mailing lists etc. Obviously there must be a lot of them otherwise this would not be an issue.

Yes it is a royal pain in the Ahole to make sure every address is valid - without bounce-returns it becomes impossible.

BUT: too bad. it’s unverified or unwanted so it is spam.


#7

But the issue isn’t spammers using DH nor having clean mailing lists. The issue here is DH customers who set up email forwards to AOL and then report forwarded mail as spam. AOL apparently looks at only the server that delivered the mail to AOL and doesn’t try to identify the originating sender.

This is a difficult issue, though. I forward to SpamCop and they instituted a system where you register “mailhosts” which are allowed to forward you mail. Then when SpamCop parses the headers, it trusts the mailhosts you have registered and looks back to see which is the first untrusted server in the list (you can’t just look for the last header as spammers forge headers to deflect attention.)

AOL would have to institute a similar system and that’s probably far too complicated for the majority of AOL users.

Steve


#8

This is true, but it’s not DH that screwed you, it’s AOL’s clueless democratizing of their email administration and resulting mismanagement.

The sequnce of events:
1…User asks DH customer to set up alias for "president@dopeyuser.com" to forward to "numbnut@aol.com"
2…Spammer that pumps to all role accounts like “president”, “webmaster”, etc sends his ad for p3n15 p1ll5.
3…User "numbnut@aol.com" hits its nifty “this is spam” button.
4…AOL, without even the slightest regard to header information, immediately qualifies it as spam coming from DH.

Over the years AOL has proven itself to be the most clueless service ever offering connectivity to the Internet so I, for one, am not surprised at all that they are continuing in this “fine” tradition.

Anyone who has clients that complain about this upcoming arrangement should tell their clients to complain to AOL about their assinine and poorly thought-out implementations. SPF, my hairy white butt.


#9

In fairness to AOL, they have little choice. Unless they want to build a list of “approved forwarders”, all they can do is look at the IP of the server that connected to AOL to deliver the mail. If that is a DH server, then as far as AOL is concerned, DH is a spammer.

Now, I’d think that this is a problem they must have been dealing with for years, so I don’t understand why DH is being singled out (if they are) for mistreatment.

Steve


#10

Same difference dude, i’m sure there are more hits from people on lists than people actually doing it to themselves.

But the whole ‘forwarding’ thing just isn’t worth the effort, when it comes down to being flagged as a spammer just because others on the same IP ranges are redirecting to a lazy company like AOL. Action must be taken - and it will only affect AOL customers in the end.

Why can’t I get my mail forwarded? BECAUSE YOU ARE ON AOL, AOL IS LAME! next question.

Spamcop is a nice plecebo, makes me feel like I am doing something, but the process is way beyond a normal user. the site has a lot of niggles to do with log in and useage with mail clients.


#11

[quote]…it will only affect AOL customers in the end.

Why can’t I get my mail forwarded? BECAUSE YOU ARE ON AOL… next question.[/quote]
…that sums it nicely, I think!

–rlparker


#12

I hate AOL–but see where this could inconvenience some.

I think being able to send mail to AOL is more important than being able to forward to it, though. So, if this lessens the chance of the AOL-bounce, then it’s probably a change for the better.

Personally, I advise people to avoid using AOL for anything important. I sometime add notes to contact form stating something like: We reply to all messages. If you don’t receive a reply, and you supplied an AOL address, please try again with a more reliable mail service. Then usually link to Yahoo, Hotmail, etc. (Note: I do this with other hosts too – not just Dreamhost because of their current AOL problems).

I don’t see it as a DH problem just because AOL doesn’t block forwards from everyone, since you could reverse it and ask why AOL is the only one blocking forwards from Dreamhost.


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#13

I don’t know why anybody would want to use AOL for their e-mail anyway; having an address with "@aol.com" looks to me like having a flashing neon sign on your back saying “I’m a moron! Kick me!”

– Dan


#14

For what it’s worth, the path I took was to set the aliased accounts to send to myself at gmail and then use gmail filtering to forward the mail on to the AOL recipients.


#15

I’m not sure that is very fair. Back when I was living in England, AOL was one of the only services available in my area. 10 years later, I still have my AOL email address (which I use when signing up for anything that may potentially lead to spam).

Also, it was in an AOL chat room where I met my wife (a Star Trek chat room - who says Trekkies can’t get laid?), which is why I am now living in the US. Do you think I’m a moron?


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#16

Haggis,

I was wondering, now that some time has passed, how that is working for you? I like the idea a lot! When a role user changes, you just have to change your filter; with no more editing aliases (probably similar in "grief factor/effort) or changing embedded addresses(arguuugh). Is it meeting your needs?

–rlparker


#17

So far I don’t like it all and strongly prefer the alias approach.

Aliases are much faster to edit - I can see and sort a hundred different email addresses across single or multiple domains in an account, all in one ‘gulp’ on the manage addresses page vs parsing filters. Worse, now I have to do SOME in one place and everyone else in another. Plus, it makes succession of my role as admin harder since the aliases are now tied up in my personal email.

Another problem I’m having may be solvable if I were smarter with filters. I have a friend with a domain she uses simply to - you guessed it - forward her ‘branded’ email address to her personal AOL account. I set up a filter that labels the mail as a forward to her account, forwards it, and archives it. I want to delete the mail after forwarding but felt I needed to run the filter a while to make sure she wasn’t going to lose anything - so now mail is passing through my account I’d really rather not get (lab results and so on - none of my business). Also, our interests overlap on several committees and so on and I’m not Gmail-smart enough to figure out how to set a single filter that tests that the mail INCLUDES her address but DOES NOT have ANY of the twenty or so active email addresses that I use for various roles (forum admin, web admin, publications committee member, paypal admin, blah blah - these aliases I use so I can use smart labeling and workflow on my own incoming mail). So the trick is to filter-forward-and-delete ALL and ONLY mail that ONLY should go to her, but filter-forward-and-file-appropriately mail that I should ALSO be receiving. Argh.

I also use it - carefully, to avoid loops - to cascade aliases so that for instance a ‘change my contact information’ formmail will send to ‘changes@example.org’ which then itself aliases to ‘treasurer@example.org’ AND ‘newsletter@example.org’ AND ‘secretary@example.org’ and ‘admin@example.org’ so we can each update our independent databases.

So really, I still consider email aliases a fundamental and basic domain tool.

Gmail rocks and I love it to death for handling the metric ton of mail I get from various sources, but it’s not as good as the manage email addresses control panel for managing EVERYTHING and therefore having to do it two places, depending on the poor member’s personal ISP, is a hassle.


#18

Thank you! I really appreciate your taking the time to prepare such a thorough response. I see and understand the problems you describe, especially the nuances of the filter-forward-discard process. It does sound like a nightmare; you pointed out issues I had not considered.

I agree that the alias process is best (and I thoroughly understand it, which I can ot yet say in all honesty about the Gmail filters!). What I have done so far, and thankfully I have only had to do it with a very few addresses, is just declining to forward to AOL/Comcast, sending affected users a Gmail invite, encouraging them to utilize it, replacing the AOL/Comcast destination in the alias with the Gmail address (or other address they provide).

Because there have been so few in my case, and becuase each of those users has liked Gmail, it has been manageable, but I remain suspicious of how all that is going to play out when the “role holders” change. I suspect some will just “pass” the Gmail account, and others will “repeat” the process - leaving me to just change the alias as I would have in the past.

I guess I am fortunate that it has not yet become a major issue for me. Again, thanks for the great, and very useful, response.

–rlparker