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I’m concerned about mailbox glut

When I post a comment to a followed thread, I get "out of office" spam from the followers!

I recently posted on the "Need Mentors" thread. After posting, I got a few dozen "out of office" spams in my email account. I assume these people had signed up to follow the thread with email notifications.

This is a nuisance interaction that I hadn't seen before. Did the functionality change?

Would it be feasible to block sending these auto-reply messages to every commenter on a thread? None of us want more "dust bunnies" in our mailboxes!
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  • Hi,

    Can you send me the full headers from one of the replies that you got? I'm not sure those are coming from our system.

    Thanks!
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  • Hi Matt, I'm attaching a few screengrabs, pls let me know if u need something more specific. I'm even getting Re: mails from people saying "Help I want off this thread!". My settings are to receive JOB postings as they are posted... but this is ridiculous! :)

    Also... it appears I was mistaken that users could "follow" posts. I assumed that because I wasn't getting flooded with thousands of postings (from all ixda members subscribing to emails)... and I'm getting these Re: notes from random job threads... so I have no idea what strange logic is at play here.









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  • I posted tonight to Discussion (manually from ixda because my emails sent to discuss@ixda.org weren't being recognized and were not appearing as part of the threads). After doing so, I received 40 "Out of Office" emails.

    Just so you know (please don't take offense - just reporting facts) with the previous system I did not receive "Out of Office" floods

    thanks!
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  • I’m frustrated
    i thought my issue was related to something else.
    I don't subscribe to email at all for the community except for specific lists and now I'm being attacked by stuff. -- dave
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  • I agree: I started this http://www.ixda.org/node/24525 thread just an hour ago, and after posting have now received ca. 10 out of office mails with the heading "Out of Office: [IxDA] Checkout processes in online shopping: Guidelines/good examples?". I have (for obvious reasons) subscribed to the thread.
    Apparently, when people have subscribed to the general feed, they send an automatic ooo mail back to ixda, and those mails are then *not* included in the thread (luckily), but fowarded to subscribers...
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  • I’m glad Matt is on the case!
    Hi Matt, Thanks for your responses. More potentially relevant details:

    Here is another discussion thread that seems to be related. http://www.ixda.org/node/24470#new

    Attached is an example email from March 30. Random reply to a random post that came to my Inbox. This one posted on the site as well (also attached). The flood seems to have subsided for me, thankfully. I only got a few of these that day.



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    • Matt, I hear what you're saying about the random RE: spams, but if it's a case of careless "reply" behavior, then it's happening a lot, sometimes an entire thread between a job seeker and poster.

      And if it is PEBCAK, why have the random RE: spams spiked significantly after the changeover? I get that I'm more attenuated to them now, but the weird thing is, I can't recall ever seeing any such messages in my inbox before. Is that possible? Could something have changed that made it easier to make the error?

      Thanks again for your help, and to everyone pitching in on the OOO issue.
    • Also, this isn't a problem on other lists I'm on with similar levels of traffic.
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  • I’m a'ight
    Matt, do you need more examples? I posted to Discussion thread from ixda.org platform and am aswim in "Out of Office" emails (gmail). Let me know if I can supply any "documentation" that'd be helpful.
    thanks!
    Susan
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  • Hi Matt,

    I have only had time to do a quick analysis and the issue is that the IxDA Mailing Software is not following the Internet Mail RFC's for mailing lists. Without access to some kind of test system I can not dig further.

    It's slightly complex to explain but I will try my best. Every email has headers which are used by the client, and envelopes that tell the servers how to route the message. As the "Out of Office" messages are been generated by the a server they are responding to the envelope not to the email header, this is correct behaviour.

    The real issue is that the IxDA system is setting the envelope wrongly. It sets both "from" header and "MAIL FROM" of the envelope to the actual person sending the message on the list. Where the correct behaviour should be to set the "MAIL FROM" of the envelope to the email address of the list, and the "from" header to the actual person sending the message.

    To fix this it will need looking at how you send out going mail, because each server on the way can modify the envelope. Also you maybe using the same bit of code for all outgoing messages, and changing the envelope could effect other messages going out such as subscribe and unsubscribe messages.

    The first partial solution to implement is to implement http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2369.txt This will help people filtering.

    Next is to the messages should indicate that they are bulk mail, using the 'Precedence: bulk' header field.

    Adding these headers will not solve the issue. The next step that needs fixing is envelope. Which means fixing the "MAIL FROM" of the envelope to the IxDA mailing list address.

    While the envelope is been looked at it may be worth looking at how the messages are been sent. Liz keeps saying that it takes over 30 mins to send all the messages. If the envelopes are set correctly then only one message needs to be sent to each server. I.e. your sever only needs to send one copy of each message to gmail, one copy to yahoo, etc...This should significantly reduce the time for a message to be sent to all the subscribers, but also reduce your server load, and bandwidth costs.

    It is pretty important to test any roll out with at least 50 people on different emails systems.

    I can't do any more help until next Thurs as I am travelling. But I will be checking emails.

    All the best

    James
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    • A couple more points.

      When the envelope change happens it would be a good idea to change the "to" header to discus@ixda.org. This looks like it is standard practice for mailing lists. The "to" header does not effect who the message goes to, only the envelope does.

      ***Envelope Changes will cause everyones filters to need changing ***
      But if the header changes to implement RFC2369 are made first subscribers can pre change the filters before the envelope changes are made. Also filters that they made from the old system should still work if RFC2369 is implemented. This is why making it a two step process is a good idea.
    • I think it's ok if everyone's filters need changing, and I'd like to suggest a better prefix than "[IXDA]". Gmail ignores the brackets, which means my filter catches every message with "IXDA" in the subject line, which is way more than just this list. i'd suggest going back to the old ixda-discuss@ from address, which is unambiguous.
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  • I’m rakish
    Not to pile on any more, but the problem is definitely reproducible just by sending a mail to the list from the ixda.org site. My message to the list a couple hours ago netted me about 50 OOO mails just now directly from people's accounts.
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  • I’m mildly befuddled and waiting for enlightenment
    Still getting odd mails every few days.. Today I got a string of them from "linniekins."

    Most were job posts or follow up comments. The last one was a request for help that she sent to the list. I thought I'd ask her what action she took to send the mail, so I clicked Reply.

    The original clearly shows the email is "from" her, but when I hit reply, the "to" field changes to the global list address.

    "From: linniekins " => "To: discuss(at)ixda.org"

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  • Any progress on fixing this? It was reported a month ago. I've just started a new thread, and now I'm getting a flood of out of office messages. It'll certainly put me off posting (has there been a drop in volume lately)? I'm also confused by this get satisfaction site. Why does the discussion of the issue happen on another site? I don't understand the context (and it's odd that clicking 'register' on this site gives you the login box, where you have to further click 'register' to get the registration form).
    • We have a potential fix, which we're in the process of implementing and testing. Hopefully it will be ready to launch soon. There is not been a noticeable decrease in the message volume, but we still realize that this is a major problem.

      Get Satisfaction is a site for collecting and managing feedback and ideas about products and websites. We're using it because it offers a lot of features for tracking these issues that we wouldn't get by just having these discussions on our forum. Also, by keeping these discussions here we don't fill up our mailing list with topics not related to interaction design.
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  • I’m frustrated and annoyed
    I have exactly the same problem as Susan.

    I understand this is a community site but it's a long term problem and infuriating when you receive 15 OOO's and no helpful responses (which I understand is pot luck).

    Is there an estimated date for the fix to deploy?
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  • I recently learned that the IxDA Board has approved additional budget for the professional development team to address this major usability issue for the mailing list. The development team has been otherwise engaged (at Drupalcon I think) and AFAIK will be working on it this coming week.
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  • Yay, this means I can re-subscribe to Ixda. I have preferred to simply leave the list entirely rather than deal with this problem the last few weeks.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Although I'm irritated at getting OOO replies as thanks for replying to a post on IxDA, what I really wish was that there was a way to notify the powers-that-be of *specific* OOO replies; namely, ones from people no longer with whatever organization owns the email address. I got one today:


    Dear Sender

    Thank you for your mail, however I have now left the business. Moving forward, please contact ------ ----- (------.-----@--------.com) or telephone [...] for all ---- resourcing matters.

    Many thanks and kind regards

    ------ ----------


    I wish there was an obvious way to report these addresses for possible deletion.
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  • A quick update: We rolled out new email headers for the list a couple days ago to try and address this issue. It looks like it has decreased the number of out-of-office replies going back to the original poster, but not eliminated them completely.

    I looked back through the list archives and it appears that this has been a recurring issue for a while..

    We're still trying to think of new ways to fix this, but I'm not sure it's 100% fixable.. The issue is that some email clients are not paying attention to our email headers and sending the auto-responder anyway. And because it's being sent to the original poster, and not back to the list, we can't filter it out.

    So.. I think there's been an improvement, but we're racking our brains to come up with more ways to fix this.
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  • Most lists will send 'to' the list, rather than the original poster. Why can't this be done here?
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  • I’m angry
    I have the same problem as well. At this point i'd be willing to delete my IXDA account entirely if it would solve the problem. How can I do this?
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  • I just got hit with around 60 Out of Office auto-replies. I agree with jamepage's earlier deduction that the ixda list (or the way Drupal handles discussion lists) is flawed somehow. Besides this issue, I had to physically add the ixda.org domain to all of my mail server's whitelists to get mail delivery; all emails were being dumped as spam.
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  • I’m frustrated
    Yes logging that I have the same issue, and not just for when I start a new thread, but also in responding to an existing one ?? Strangely I have not been able to get the notifications from IXDA to threads etc working at all (perhaps that are getting caught in spam as Neilio suggests), so at the moment the only messages I get from IXDA are a momentous number of OOO.
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  • This happens to me whenever I reply to an IxDA thread, and it also just happened when I posted a job on the Job Board.
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  • I have given up waiting for this problem to be sorted out and reluctantly decided to unsubscribe from the IxDA website altogether. It is an embarrasingly poor example of Interaction Design.
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