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Tommy

Complex Mailhosts Configuration

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The ISP I use for email (arkansas.net) apparently uses several different mail servers, processes their mail through postini AND more confusingly, their network operations center uses a totally different domain (anc.net). After configuring mailhosts I have not been able to report spam reliably because once I get things configured it turns out the next email has gone through some different path so it's STILL considered an untrusted host.

I don't have any knowledge of the network operations at my ISP. I could ask if I have to...

Apparently the MX records for the domain list four different servers. Two always time out for spamcop, and the other two go wherever they go (postini ?). Maybe the other two MX records are backup servers at the ISP that respond only when postini is down.

Here's my guess as to why this is complicated - Once an email goes through postini there must be two or more servers on the ISP end that can receive it, probably depending on the load and maybe some other factors. My guess is that any particular message could be routed via a finite but unpredictable combination of servers in two different domains..

I'm not savvy enough about networking to understand what might need to happen on YOUR end to make this work, but here are a few things that MIGHT make this easier for ME --

(1) When a message is rejected by the mailhosts configuration, the web pages present the URL to use for the waiver, but it's not hot-linked so I have to copy and paste it. Is this to keep the riff-raff out, or is it just an oversight?

(2) If a mailhosts configuration email gets routed through the spamcop email system, why should we have to copy and paste it -- is there a way you process it directly from within the spamcop email server?

(3) The waiver process has been reasonably fast (several hours during business hours) but I don't have any inkling of its status until I get the "waiver granted" email. It would be nice to be able to track it somehow, ideally with a clear indication on the mailhosts configuration page that you have received the waiver request but have not processed it yet. Maybe there IS an indication there but I didn't see it.

(4) When a spam report gets rejected because it's not in the mailhosts configuration, it would be really great if you could give me a link to generate a new configuration request or apply for a waiver right from that screen. As it is, I have no idea how to proceed. What server do I need to validate? I have the name of a server where the spam processing choked, but I don't know how that relates to the ones I have already configured....

I hope this makes sense. Do I need to appeal to the marshals, er... I mean... the deputies? Should I give up on that particular email ISP?

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You've made your point on being confused and frustrated. Sounds like a lot of fun. But, I'm not sure that that one of Ellen's Pinned items can be made any clearer ... please read http://forum.spamcop.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=1081 once again ... At this point, she's pretty much the only interface to either handling your issue, or passing it on to Julian if it calls for his coding skills (and you mention some items that only he has access to) ... There is no one else "here" that can get inside any of this stuff.

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Apparently the MX records for the domain list four different servers. Two always time out for spamcop, and the other two go wherever they go (postini ?). Maybe the other two MX records are backup servers at the ISP that respond only when postini is down.

I use a postini configuration at work and got the same error messages when submitting my mailhost configuration. Actually, the backup MX'es are postini's backup servers which they enable in case of problems at their main facility. Email will only travel through those if there is a problem and postini enables them.

It would be nice for spamcop to add those servers ahead of time since they are a valid MXes for the domain.

(2) If a mailhosts configuration email gets routed through the spamcop email system, why should we have to copy and paste it -- is there a way you process it directly from within the spamcop email server?

If the message gets stopped at the spamcop servers, you can forward the message using webmail. Your case above will still fail however because of the "complex configuration".

(3) The waiver process has been reasonably fast (several hours during business hours) but I don't have any inkling of its status until I get the "waiver granted" email. It would be nice to be able to track it somehow, ideally with a clear indication on the mailhosts configuration page that you have received the waiver request but have not processed it yet. Maybe there IS an indication there but I didn't see it.

AFAIK, the waivers are processed manually so you may have just sent them at the right time. I suppose a flag could be generated for waiver requested, but if most are quite fast, it is adding unneeded overhead.

(4) When a spam report gets rejected because it's not in the mailhosts configuration, it would be really great if you could give me a link to generate a new configuration request or apply for a waiver right from that screen. As it is, I have no idea how to proceed. What server do I need to validate? I have the name of a server where the spam processing choked, but I don't know how that relates to the ones I have already configured....

I like that idea but don't know how much programming would be involved and it also could lessen the reliability as the mailhosts are shared among configurations. If anyone is allowed to add to the mailhost easily, it could be abused.

Edited by StevenUnderwood

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Thanks for the sympathy and feedback. A message to deputies[at]spamcop.net with the appropriate information took care of it. I guess I was expecting to have to figure out how to fix it myself, and it's just not possible!

After a short delay I got a response from Ellen and reporting is working correctly now!

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After a short delay I got a response from Ellen and reporting is working correctly now

Yeah, it's a dang shame that she gets to handle so much these days, let's hope her pay check reflects the levels of effort she expends. Now if you could help me/us out ... what the heck more can be done to get folks to read that Pinned FAQ and follow the instructions she's placed there?

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what the heck more can be done to get folks to read that Pinned FAQ and follow the instructions she's placed there?

I can't speak for everyone else, but I actually had read all the pinned FAQs and skimmed many of the other postings and for some reason my situation seemed unusual. Maybe my situation WAS unusual.

Anyway, IMHO there's an uncomfortable place in the whole process where everything looks wrong and the FAQ is asking for a regular-old spamcop report URL, BUT my brain kept telling me there IS NO report URL because the report failed. I had to go through the process again (I probably did this seven or eight times). I looked and sure enough there's a link I can paste, and that's all Ms. Deputy needs to fix everything just right.

Now I have a page full of inscrutable Mailhost settings that seem to work Just Great.

I think what you really want is something that makes this easier on everyone... maybe once the kinks are worked out someone will go back and make the configuration more understandable, self correcting, and/or embed the documentation/instructions into the process. Ideally a process that can be followed even when your brain is fuzzy.

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Yeah, it's a dang shame that she gets to handle so much these days, let's hope her pay check reflects the levels of effort she expends.

:-)

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Yeah, it's a dang shame that she gets to handle so much these days, let's hope her pay check reflects the levels of effort she expends.

:-)

...Even Ironport's total revenue isn't likely to be able to match Ellen's value to her users (us). :D <big g>

Edited by turetzsr

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I encountered the same thing just now when I tried to add the Mailhosts records for my ACM forwarding address (with the domain acm.org). I submitted a waiver request, but I wonder whether it might be practical for them to add general recognition of Postini spam filtering. ACM doesn't seem to use Postini spam filtering quite yet (http://spam.acm.org/public/spamapp/faq/postini_transf.html), but they do seem to be getting email through those servers already.

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be practical for them to add general recognition of Postini spam filtering

but at this point in time, how many more postini servers are there that have yet to be added? Or is it also based on the entry/exit points from the e-mail servers using the postini servers that cause the issue? I going with that it's not just that a specific server is actually tagged good or bad, it's also tied into "your" chain of "trusted" servers, which would still leave it as a case-by-case basis.

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Yeah, it's a dang shame that she gets to handle so much these days, let's hope her pay check reflects the levels of effort she expends.

hahaha

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Yeah, it's a dang shame that she gets to handle so much these days, let's hope her pay check reflects the levels of effort she expends.

:-)

...Even Ironport's total revenue isn't likely to be able to match Ellen's value to her users (us). :D <big g>

smooch

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Well, from the earlier comments, it sounds like any mailserver with Postini in front of it produces headers much like:

Received: from psmtp.com ([12.158.38.185])
        by alias.acm.org (ACM Email Forwarding Service) with SMTP id COB73880
        for &lt;argus[at]acm.org&gt;; Sat, 08 May 2004 01:13:01 -0400
Received: from source ([206.14.107.103]) by exprod7mx45.postini.com ([12.158.38.251]) with SMTP;
	Fri, 07 May 2004 22:13:00 MST

The question is whether adding code in the parser to recognize such a pair of Received lines would be easier than doing a separate waiver for each of Postini's customers. Note that the 12.158.38.251 MX host does seem to be shared with arkansas.net and presumably others, so the Mailhosts code could theoretically recognize a Postini customer before it even sends the mail.

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