Non English Spam

Erik Norgaard norgaard at
Sun Oct 15 03:49:07 PDT 2006

Ted Mittelstaedt wrote:

>> I have noted however, that some subscribers to this list write english
>> encoded in one of the above character sets, I don't know enough about
>> the character set definition, but it seems that English characters are a
>> subset of any character set?
>> What is the recommended policy here? Should subscribers be advised to
>> change character set when posting to the list?
> No.  It's the responsibility of the person doing the filtering - in this
> case you -
> to exempt any known good e-mail sender from your filters.

> You know damn well that legitimate mailing list mail comes from
> ( [])
> it's right in the headers of the messages on the list.

First: You know all too well that filtering based on "Received" header 
fields is not reliable - any decent spammer know how to forge that. 
Accepting mail from a particular host should be done even before the 
mail delivery starts.

Second: If you know postfix, you also know that header filtering is 
independent of other checks, even the result of filtering on individual 
header lines are independent.

So the ideal you mention is not an option until a complete public list 
of authorized mail servers is available and all mail relayed through 
these requires authentication.

Or do you have the solution that does not imply accepting any of a 
myriad of character sets?

I'd be happy to implement that, but I don't want to open my mail server 
to receive mail I have no means of reading and understanding just 
because it is RFC compliant.

> You have no right to
> force other people to conform to what you feel is acceptable formatting
> of their message as long as they meet the SMTP rfc standards.  That's
> why we have RFC's.

You you know perfectly well that content filtering is not based on the 
RFC's on SMTP but rather on the Internet Message Format and various 
RFC's on MIME - but I assume that you meant to refer to these.

Basically what you say here is that spammers have every right to flood 
mail servers as long as they do so compliant with the RFC's?

I don't force anyone to conform to any arbitrary standards that I decide 
upon, but I have every legitimate right to reject anything that doesn't 
conform to my arbitrary standards.

Yet, it is somewhat implicit that this is an English language list, any 
one writing in a different language may be lucky to find someone who can 
respond in their language, but are just as often referred to one of the 
language specific lists - if their message is not simply ignored.

So we do actually impose some arbitrary rule on subscribers, namely to 
write in English. Given that we find it reasonable to impose such a 
rule, then why is it unreasonable to impose that they should abstain 
from obscure non-English character sets?

I was hoping to find a way that we can all get along, I find it kind of 
useless to waste my resources on mail written in languages that I have 
no means of interpreting.

> If everyone did what your proposing then senders would have hundreds
> of different rules they would have to follow, over and above the normal
> RFCs.

Well, in real life as well as on-line we have thousands of rules and 
customs, implicit or written, on communication and gestures.

There are best practices on how to communicate in e-mail and on mailling 
lists, usage of smileys and other types of mood-expression, and 
proclaimed best practices on how to quote.

You regularly see people complaining about top posting. Then, line 
wrapping, or people who don't delete the trailing message part that they 
don't reply to etc.

I don't see a recommendation on character sets as much different.

Cheers, Erik
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