[-empyre-] List issues: Explanation and conclusion

Damian O'Brien damian at cofa.unsw.edu.au
Thu Jan 17 12:37:01 EST 2008

Hello All

I'm sending this to the entire list as the discussion seems to have  
moved there.  This is in the interest of clearing up what is  
developing into a growing pool of misinformation.

There have been a number of issues raised, primarily Naeem's mails  
going missing.

The empyre list has a number of settings which have been tailored by  
the administrators of this list (not myself or other UNSW staff,  
specifically a number of empyre list participants given  
administrative access to the configuration section of the list).   
These settings have impacted on the way in which the list runs in the  
following ways.

  * Problem:  posts held for moderation with the reason 'Message has  
a suspicious header'

The message has been held because part of the message matches the  
spam filtering rules set by the list administrators for empyre.   
These settings are configured under >Privacy Options>Spam filters.

This is NOT the server wide spam filtering.  These are rules set for  
empyre specifically, by the empyre owners.

These rules relate to both visible parts of the email, as well as  
parts usually invisible to the user.  I'm pointing this out  
particularly to Dennis Mosser, who made comment on 'hidden coding'  
and suggested that I was overreacting.  Although I've never in my  
communications used that term, when discussing with Christina the  
possibility of filters catching otherwise valid emails I pointed out  
that free email services often include embedded advertising in the  
mail.  Another possibility is that an email client can add what is  
known as header information, extra information in the part of the  
email that contains information on aspects such as delivery and  
path.  Specifically, the empyre list has the following conditions  
under which a mail will be held for spam, these conditions having  
been set by the empyre owners:

to: friend at public.com
message-id: relay.comanche.denmark.eu
from: list at listme.com
subject: Autoreply:
subject: .*Out of Office
subject: unsubscribe
subject: remove
subject: Remove me
from: .*@uplinkpro.com
subject: proposal
subject: call
subject: .*Autoreply
subject: job
subject: vacancy
subject: Out of Office AutoReply:
from: alertservice at covad.net
subject: Off-topic
Content-Type: .*rich
Content-Type: .*html
Content-Type: .*multipart
Content-Type: .*mixed

NOTE: Entries such as 'Content-Type' and 'message-id' are information  
in the header of an email, invisible to the average user, added by  
the email client.  If you want to see the full header of an email,  
with the email selected go to the menu item View>Message>Raw Source  
(this is for a mac, windows email clients will have something similar  
such as 'Full Header').  You will see that there is a large amount of  
header information that is usually hidden from view.  I have included  
an example at the end of this mail.

Conclusion:  All messages held due to 'Suspicious Header' are being  
held as s direct result of the settings which the empyre owners have  
set.  Note the content-type conditions, they have the result of  
holding or rejecting any emails that are not plain-text or that have  
any type of attachment.  Today many, if not the majority, of email  
clients by default use rich text or html as the default format for  

 From feedback from members it seems that this requirement of the  
list is not widely known.

* Problem:  Posts passed to the list disappearing.

There is a second area of the empyre list which has been configured  
by the list owners to reject anything but plain-text emails.  This is  
found under 'Content Filtering'.  This had been set to automatically  
discard any messages that had any sort of formatting other than plain- 
text.  Christina has confirmed that this was intentional.  Yesterday  
I disabled content filtering on the empyre list, and since then  
Naeem's posts have been passed to the list correctly.

Now, although it was believed that Naeem's mails did not have any of  
the conditions that would cause it to be filtered I do not believe  
that to be correct.  This is not a criticism of the empyre  
administrators.  List administration can be a complex task, and this  
complexity is increased exponentially when you have a number of  
people administering the same list.  In order to be sure that Naeem's  
mails should have gone through, they would have had to firstly be  
aware of the various filter rules set for empyre by their comrades,  
understand the impact of these rules, and then have viewed the FULL  
header of Naeem's mails in order to check that no conditions  
matched.  I do not believe that this was the case.

Ok, that's enough of the specifics regarding the issues raised.

I'd like to thank those list members who contacted me directly with  
anecdotal information of other users posts being held or going  
missing.  It was in part due to this information that I became aware  
that the issues were not specific to Naeem, although it was only his  
case that provoked claims of racial profiling.  I'm unsure if the  
dissatisfaction with the COFA list service recently expressed is  
generally true of empyre members, however if you do decide to move to  
a different service I'm available to help in any way that I can.   
There are a number of groups or organizations that offer free list  
services although they may not offer a similar level of self  
determination, however that's not necessarily a bad thing (current  
exchange being a case in point).  I've removed my email address from  
the list in all aspects as I believe that the problems have been  

Best wishes



Damian O'Brien
Systems Administrator
College of Fine Arts UNSW
Ph: 02 93850672
Fx: 02 93850706
damian at cofa.unsw.edu.au


Example header:  Normal view


From: 	  christina at christinamcphee.net
Subject: 	Re: List issue
Date: 	16 January 2008 5:55:26 PM
To: 	  damian at cofa.unsw.edu.au
Cc: 	  empyre-owner at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au


Example header: Raw source


Return-Path: <christina at christinamcphee.net>
Received: from murder ([unix socket])
	 by gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au (Cyrus v2.2.12-OS X 10.4.0) with LMTPA;
	 Wed, 16 Jan 2008 17:58:28 +1100
X-Sieve: CMU Sieve 2.2
Received: from localhost (localhost [])
	by gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au (Postfix) with ESMTP id 4B51D1D048CD;
	Wed, 16 Jan 2008 17:58:24 +1100 (EST)
Received: from gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au ([])
  by localhost (gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au []) (amavisd-new,  
port 10024)
  with ESMTP id 09971-09; Wed, 16 Jan 2008 17:58:15 +1100 (EST)
Received: from flpi102.prodigy.net (flpi102.sbcis.sbc.com  
	by gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au (Postfix) with ESMTP id 083501D04893;
	Wed, 16 Jan 2008 17:58:14 +1100 (EST)
X-ORBL: []
Received: from []  
(adsl-75-15-130-184.dsl.snlo01.sbcglobal.net [])
	by flpi102.prodigy.net (8.13.8 out.dk.spool/8.13.8) with ESMTP id  
	Tue, 15 Jan 2008 22:55:27 -0800
Cc: empyre-owner at gamera.cofa.unsw.edu.au
Message-Id: <AD581CAA-1B28-403F-A706-B8197158FCAE at christinamcphee.net>
From: Christina McPhee <christina at christinamcphee.net>
To: "Damian O'Brien" <damian at cofa.unsw.edu.au>
In-Reply-To: <A955E493-5C98-455F-ABBF-7C31FD362670 at cofa.unsw.edu.au>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=US-ASCII; format=flowed; delsp=yes
Content-Transfer-Encoding: 7bit
Mime-Version: 1.0 (Apple Message framework v915)
Subject: Re: List issue
Date: Tue, 15 Jan 2008 22:55:26 -0800
References: <A955E493-5C98-455F-ABBF-7C31FD362670 at cofa.unsw.edu.au>
X-Mailer: Apple Mail (2.915)
X-Virus-Scanned: by amavisd-new at cofa.unsw.edu.au
X-Spam-Status: No, hits=1 tagged_above=-999 required=7 tests=BAYES_00,
X-Spam-Level: *


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