spam-l : spam fighting discussion list.

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FAQ - frequently asked questions.

This page deals with the posting guidelines for the list. Please read this section before posting.

Filtering messages from this list

Many/most admins, ISPs and end-users filter their email to avoid a spam overload. The methods used all rely on some value of "spamminess." Given the subect matter of this list, content of postings may appear to be "spammy." Please remember:

  • You signed up for this list (remember "COI, Confirmed Opt In"?) so please ensure that <> is "whitelisted" or otherwise dealt with in a friendly manner.
  • Therefore, the LISTSERV is designed to unsubscribe you on first sight of a 550 reject for "unwanted content" or words to that effect. If this happens to you, please sort out your filtering, and resubscribe.

[As an example (August 2013), "Sanesecurity.Jurlbl.{3-5 digits}.UNOFFICIAL" which is thought to be an add-on to ClamAV, appeared to be quite sensitive to a copy/paste/'reply to' posting of some spam content and resulted in a statistically higher than average automatic number of unsubs.]

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What should be posted?

Discussion of spam-fighting and prevention techniques, discussion of ongoing legislation and the pros/cons of same, and other spam-related discussion.

Posting spam you receive is OK, as long as you follow these guidelines:

  • Don't simply forward the spam. No one on the list is interested in receiving the spam itself. The best technique is to include relevant headers and any comments you may have (statistics, whois data, response from an abuse desk, etc.)
  • Don't post a spam that someone else has already posted to the list, unless the one you received is different in some way (different headers, injection point, etc.) that makes it worth seeing again.
  • Don't post the entire spam! Posting the whole thing simply increases the spammer's distribution of their excrement.

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Some posting guidelines

This list aims to be the home of peace, friendship and respect. Here are a few guidelines for posting to this list:

  • Please don't post flames, threats, and insults. If you must do this, spare the list your wrath and take it OFF-LIST; none of us are interested in a flame-war.
  • The members of this list come from around the globe and can have very different backgrounds and levels of technical knowledge and spam-fighting experience. Your audience can vary from the hobbyist to the professional dealing with tens of millions of emails per day. While almost all communication is in English, for a significant number of us, this is a second (third, or fourth) language.
  • Discussion of things like "Why can't I spam?" and "Spam isn't really so bad, just..." etc. are probably not going to be well received. We're all on the list to fight spam, and we'd rather talk about that than debate the merits of it. Debating the merits of spam, as one list-reader put it, is now the equivalent of "Flogging the greasy spot on the pavement where the dead horse used to be". (Posted by John Mozena, although he stated that he got it someplace else. :-)
  • We're here to discuss email (SMTP) spam. Now on occasion it is useful to reference non-SMTP spam, but only as it relates to diagnosing, deciphering, interpretting, preventing, blocking, terminating of email spamMERS and those that would support them.
  • If you post frequently to the list, please consider the value you are adding to the knowledge of your fellow subscribers. Remember what was recently said: there is no need to preach to the choir.
  • If you are REPLYing to the list, please learn how to edit your quoted postings. Often times deleting all of the quoted text and just keeping the significant SUBJECT: RE: line is all that is required by most participants, especially those subscribed in DIGEST mode. (Quoted text to establish context should be kept in, though.) Delete each line to which you are not replying. 40 lines of quote followed by two lines of reply will not be read by over 90% of us. We need to see the substance of your reply in the first 10 lines.
  • Keep signatures short. 5 lines is usually considered the maximum.

Off-topic posts, etc. are also generally frowned upon; although we all like the occasional joke to liven up our days. :-)

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How much/often can we post?

There are currently no limits. However, a maximum of 8 postings per day per subscriber up to 200 lines long used to be the limit and remains a good guideline.

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Please do not feed the trolls

On at least one occasion, a spammer has shown up on the list and caused considerable disruption by posting messages like "why not hit delete" (he obviously was too good to read this FAQ before posting), calling us all sorts of names, and just causing general disruption.

The best way to deal with such an individual is to ignore them, and they will usually get mad, and leave the list on their own. Of course, if they are creating excessive disruption, feel free to e-mail your friendly list moderators and the matter will be looked into, and the troll be unsubbed from the list if absolutely necessary.

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A word about using profanity

Since a large number of the members of this list are sysadmins, consultants and UNIX gurus, it's safe to say that this mailing list can be considered a professional resource with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. An important part of acting in a professional manner is using profanity very sparingly. There are many, many ways to communicate your message without having to resort to vulgarity, no matter how upset you may be at the spammer who crashed your mailserver and caused you hours of downtime.

Also, since people are using search facilities on the web more and more (employers, potential customers, etc.), and this list is archived, using excessive profanity could come back to haunt you someday.

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Signal to Noise ratio

For those who aren't too familiar with messaging forums on the Internet, signal refers to on-topic posts which contribute to the value of a list whereas noise is anything off-topic, such as personal remarks and flames.

As for why one should bother staying on-topic, while it might be a little satisfying to flame some unresponsive ISP (we speak this from experience :-), it just adds noise as opposed to signal, and the only effect it will have is to convince people new to the list, such as ISP Abuse people, that the list is unprofessional and not worth reading, and the list loses a potential ally.

If you really need to chat with someone or flame them, please take it OFF-LIST for the sake of the list.

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How topics work

This list, while encouraging their use, does not formally use "Topics", but for those of you familiar with them, please use them (followed by a colon space ": ") at the start of the Subject:

We would suggest that the following topics are useful:

"I sent the following nastygram to".
"I received the following response from". This topic can also be used to mention ISPs which are unresponsive to spam complaints.
Mail blocking/filtering discussion/issues.
Text related to law/statutes or pending litigation.
The list FAQ [this page.]
"What is your opinion of"
"I've taken a close look at, gone through my logs and done as much research as I can. IMNSHO they're well worth blocking."
If you need assistance in either decoding a received spam message or need assistance in contacting a service provider/system administrator.
If you wish to share a humorous spam or some other spam-related humor.
What the popular press has to say about spam.
Discussion about the use, operation, and management of the list itself.
A report of a spammer losing their account/webspace.
Used for reporting spam. Please do not use it for sending the full text of a spam unless it's for some extreme spam, such as one that threatens people who try to complain about it, or something similar.

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Just how do I post to this list, anyway?

Having read the rest of this section, you are now ready to post to the list. To make a post to the list, send e-mail to

N.B - a few technicalities: please use plain text, not HTML; please do not send attachments; "top-posting" is rarely a good idea.

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How do I receive my own postings to the list?

By default, new subscribers to the list will see their own postings to the list.

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How can I distinguish posts to this list from other e-mail that I get?

All Subject: lines will contain "[SDLU List]" to allow sorting|filtering.

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Should I forward every spam I get to the list?

No. See the section titled What should be posted for posting guidelines.

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I just posted a spam I got, and got flamed. Why?

Well, if it was from someone other than a list member, it's a good bet that:

  1. they're the spammer,
  2. they are a spam-haven domain, or
  3. you got a highly underpaid, highly overworked sysadmin (or BOFH :-) on the other end of your complaint, which is one of about 3,000 they got today.

If you get chastised by a list member, you probably violated one of the posting guidelines above.

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I just posted something to the list, and it got rejected, why?

This list is moderated; however, the "list mod[erators]s" will try and intervene as little as possible (more work, no pay.) If you believe that you have followed these guidelines and you message is still rejected, please contact

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Can we advertise anti-spamming products/services on the list?

There hasn't ever been much advertising of anti-spam products/services on this list so here are a few pointers that it is suggested you follow. This section will be revised as necessary.

  • Blatant advertising and/or press releases of anti-spam products/services by list members is prohibited.
  • However, placing a mention of your product in your signature file and/or posting an informal announcement when you release or upgrade your product/service is perfectly acceptible. Obviously, this does not mean that you should use a 25 line signature; 2 or 3 lines should be sufficient.

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Please don't CC this list on complaints

This list is not any sort of a political action group. The list exists for informational purposes and discussion only. The reason why we say this is so that a list member doesn't complain about a spammer and CC the list, to try and imply some sort of a threat if the site being e-mailed doesn't comply and deal with their spammer.

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List password

If you have a need for your list password (i.e. to change list options), then you can visit the bottom of and have your password sent to you.

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This FAQ is very much based on previous work by Doug Muth, with the community's gratitude for his many years of involvement as a founder of the original spam-l. Please see his blog at



Revised 29 August 2020
postmaster at spam-l


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