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[csmith-dev] csmith-bugs list config change


This morning I changed the configuration of the <csmith-bugs@flux.utah.edu>
mailing list.  Previously, it was an open list: anyone/anything could post to
it.  Now, posts from most non-members are held for moderation.

People who have previously sent reports to csmith-bugs are on a whitelist of
approved senders.  New bug reporters will be added to the whitelist in the

This new change should eliminate spam sent to the list, unless it is sent by a
subscriber or a previously approved poster :-).


The rest of this message is list-management details.  You can stop reading now
if you don't care about the history and philosophy.

When I created the csmith-bugs list, I deliberately configured it as an open
list in order to encourage bug reports.  Nobody wants to subscribe to a list
just to report a bug!  Of course an open list also attracts spam, but I
considered this the price to be paid by those of us who would subscribe to
csmith-bugs.  I thought it was the right trade-off at the time: it was the
configuration that minimized the barrier to bug reporting and also minimized my
list-administration effort.

(Aside: The <csmith-dev@flux.utah.edu> mailing list is configured differently.
That list is closed: only subscribers may post to that list.  To discuss Csmith
you must "join the community.")

The open configuration of the csmith-bugs list worked fine until recently.
Nowadays, the combination of spam volume, low bug-report volume, MDA policy,
and Mailman bounce-processing policy has become a problem.

The current problem is that I and other Utah folks have been becoming
unsubscribed from the csmith-bugs mailing list.  This happens because the Utah
School of Computing bounces much spam, which Mailman interprets as a delivery
error, which leads Mailman to suspend our list subscriptions and ultimately (if
not contravened) unsubscribe us from the list.

My solution to this problem was the change I made today.  I changed the
csmith-bugs list to moderate posts from most non-subscribers.  Non-subscribers
can still report bugs easily, but unless the sender is recognized, he or she
will receive a notice that his or her message has been held for moderation.
Legitimate reports will be approved and their senders will be added to the
non-subscriber whitelist.

This change will keep the csmith-bugs list mostly open.  It also has the
advantage of knocking out most/all spam, which will keep us Utah folks from
being unsubscribed from the list.  The cost is the time required to moderate
posts, which I expect to be small (but unfortunately ongoing!).

An alternative solution, which I did not implement, would be to disable
bounce-processing for the csmith-bugs mailing list.  I did not implement this
because I believe that bounce processing is generally worthwhile, and in any
case it would do nothing to cut down on list spam.  (I could disable
bounce-processing in addition to moderation, but that seemed unnecessary.)

So we will see how this new csmith-bugs list configuration goes.  Of course I
expect that it will be fine, and I expect that the effort required to moderate
will be low.  Subscribers to the csmith-bugs list will enjoy the absence of
spam.  But: If the moderation effort turns out to be too high, I will switch to
Plan B, disabling bounce processing.

Thanks ---


Eric Eide <eeide@cs.utah.edu>  .         University of Utah School of Computing
http://www.cs.utah.edu/~eeide/ . +1 (801) 585-5512 voice, +1 (801) 581-5843 FAX