#Through relatively benign actions that were not centrally controlled,
#email containing the Simmons College URL (www.simmons.edu) has gotten on
#the AOL list to reject as spam. This means even individuals sending
#emails with their personal URLs in their signatures can have their
#emails rejected. This happened before the CAN-SPAM ACT, and we have
#serious central policies on sending email to prospects. We cannot
#always control the actions of eager individuals.
#Has anyone else had to deal with this sort of problem? Any suggestions
#how to get out of the doghouse? And since we can't guarantee that a unit
#within Simmons won't send an email solicitation to a bunch of people,
#one of whom thinks it is spam, how do we stay off the list?
I should note right up front that I am not affiliated with AOL, and I do
not speak for them, however you may find the following information to be
-- AOL has a postmaster information web site at
http://postmaster.info.aol.com/ which can be quite helpful if you're
traffic is getting blocked
-- If you're not already requesting AOL scomp spam reports, you may want to
do so for your netblocks; you may be surprised to see the messages that
are being associated with your address space. (see the presentation at
http://www.nanog.org/mtg-0310/spam.html for information on how to
request them). scomps appear to get generated when AOL centrally filters
messages, OR when users push the big red "this is spam" button.
-- Based on what you see in the scomps, you may find that one or more of
the following is occuring:
-- You may have infested machines that are being used to spam AOL
addresses (only); if you don't get scomp reports (or do network
traffic analysis) you probably won't even know those infested hosts
exist (it is rare to get AOL spam complaints directly from an AOL
or from a spam reporting service such as Spam Cop). Obviously you'll
want to get those hosts cleaned up; if you're forensically inclined,
you may find it fascinating to see what hosts are pumping spam through
those compromised systems.
-- If you permit users to forward their campus mail to an AOL account,
and that forwarded mail includes spam (from whatever source), you
may see the finger pointed at *your forwarding host* rather than
the true source of the spam (it can be hard to know how far to
backtrack when assessing the source of a spam -- all AOL knows for
sure is the address of the mail transfer agent that handed their
box the spam, and in a forwarding scenario, that would be YOUR
-- You may have AOL recipients who push the "this is spam" button on
legitimate stuff they've requested (but which they've forgotten
about); in some cases they may even become so exhuberant that they
push the "this is spam" button on personal mail from family members.
If you can identify the source of those mis-markings, you may want
to see if you can encourage them not to push the "this is spam"
button randomly. :-) [Identifying the source of the mis-reports can
be tricky since AOL munges the reporting AOL user's address out of
-- You may have message content characteristics which, in combination with
other factors, trigger filtering heuristics.
-- You may genuinely have local folks sending what is/looks like spam
You may want to visit with those folks to explain why having AOL block
your university's stuff is, um, not a good thing. If your AUP/terms of
service do NOT provide a mechanism whereby you can take positive
steps to control locally originated spam (in the event that an appeal
for voluntary cooperation doesn't succeed), then I think you will
likely have a serious problem. There's absolutely no doubt in my
mind that AOL *will* block spam sources, period.
Bottom line, (1) check out the AOL postmaster info site, (2) get scomp
reports, (3) based on the scomps clean up any issues that exist, then
contact AOL to arrange to get unblocked...
Joe St Sauver ([log in to unmask])
University of Oregon Computing Center
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