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Re: [ietf-smtp] IETF Policy on dogfood consumption or avoidance - SMTP version

2019-12-26 17:47:43
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In message 
Sam Varshavchik <mrsam(_at_)courier-mta(_dot_)com> writes

The only technical solution that I think has a chance of eventually getting  
rid of spam is the one that conclusively proves or disproves whether the  
mail sender is known to the /individual addressee/. Spam, by definition,  
comes from an unknown source, and it will not be able to prove that it's a  
known source.

that's your definition ... the people who write the various statutes
have another one ...

.... BUT the big mailbox providers (the ones who receive billions of
emails a day and use machine learning for their filtering) have a
completely different definition:

the ML systems need some notion of what is or is not spam and for that
they use recipient behaviour. If they deliver email to the inbox and the
recipient "marks it spam" then the ML systems "learn" that similar email
is spam, If they deliver email to the spam folder and the user
"recovers" it to the inbox then again the ML system learns of its error

the result is that for these large systems spam is "email that users do
not currently want in their inbox today"

since real people mark their utility bills as spam (remarkably often!)
and many dislike the offers that they once signed up to receive from
their favourite airline (whilst others are super keen to receive that
email) there are complex additional systems, adjunct to the ML, to
handle transactional email and to deal with mail about which there is no
consensus as to how spammy it might be ...

That means it can be filtered out, at that point. That's the  
root of the problem: spam, by definition, comes from a completely unknown  
source to the sender. Focus the technical solution on /that/. 

if you decide to focus on that then you will deal with a chunk of the
problem but not I think the chunk that anyone really has much problem
with -- and in doing so you will disrupt a great many edge cases where
email from apparent strangers is in fact of considerable value to the

Having a  
reputation provider vouch for the reputation of the sender does nothing to  
address the fundamental nature of what spam is.

I'd agree with the generality expressed here -- but the reputation
providers are of significant use today, particularly to sites that only
see small amounts of email (less than 10m items or so per day) ...

.... and since it is clearly unwise to expect a technical fix to address
a social problem (that's my generality for the mix!) the social nature
of their approach is at least heading in the right sort of direction

- -- 
richard                                                   Richard Clayton

Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary 
Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. Benjamin Franklin 11 Nov 1755

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