[SATLUG] Need scripting assistance
brad at shub-internet.org
Sat Dec 22 02:46:33 CST 2007
On 12/22/07, Don Wright wrote:
> Sure looks like spam. 8^) Think about it: You're sending exactly the
> same message to thousands of recipients who didn't sign up for it
> through a double-confirmed list. You're talking about a simple
> broadcast, not a bounce-managed mailing list package.
The method of extracting the addresses should be kept separate from
the method of contacting the recipients in question.
Since there is presumably a prior business relationship with those
customers, it probably won't be considered spam from a purely legal
perspective, but you're definitely in territory where a lot of the
recipients might disagree with that interpretation.
However, on a purely technical level, with a decent hardware, OS, and
software configuration, Mailman can certainly handle a list of 100k
addresses, especially in an announce-only list (see FAQ 1.15 at
> I expect Brad
> will shortly tell you the effective lifetime of your ISP account will
> be measured in milliseconds -- and why even if it gets out, the
> inbound servers will detect and delete this flood of excrement, even
> before the complaints hit every block list on the planet.
A lot will depend on the exact methods used to transmit the messages,
and the type of account you have. Many ISPs do rate-limiting for
many types of customers, and they may block outbound port 25 access,
thus forcing you to route all your e-mail through their mail servers
-- the ones with the rate-limiting.
This issue comes up often enough with totally legitimate double
opt-in mailing lists that we have several related entries in the
Mailman FAQ Wizard, in particular FAQ 4.51 at
which asks if Mailman has any built-in rate-limiting facilities since
so many ISPs do rate-limiting on their mail machines and the
customers don't want to get their account automatically nuked for
abuse or get charged mega-bucks for over-usage, or whatever. There
are other FAQ entries that are somewhat related, but this one should
be your starting point.
If you want to do any appreciable amount of customization/mail-merge
functions on the outgoing messages, then a "real" mailing list
manager like Mailman is not going to work for you (see FAQ 3.37 at
Instead, you'll want a proper Customer Relationship Management
system. I don't have any personal experience with any CRMs, so I
can't give you any particular advice in this area. But I think that
all the significant solutions in this space are commercial, as
opposed to being freely available.
> 2) Import that file into a proper mailing list manager - which can
> then handle the generation of the 100K personalized emails in an
> efficient manner - and handle the undeliverables so you don't get
> overwhelmed with the flood coming back. Check with your upstream
> provider on any limits to the traffic you're allowed, and set them
> into the MLM so you don't get TOSsed.
From a purely technical standpoint, handling the bounces properly and
in an automated fashion is actually the single biggest issue that
needs to be considered.
Consider at the same LISA'98 conference where John Viega (the
original author of Mailman) was talking about the 1.0 beta version
being able to handle hundreds of thousands of message deliveries per
day on a low-end Pentium class machine with just 48MB of RAM, you
also had Strata Chalup talking about all the multitudinous hoops that
they were running into with what they characterized as one of the
world's very largest mailing lists (the firewalls mailing list at
greatcircle.com), which was running into untold amounts of problems
with hundreds of thousands of message deliveries per day.
The one big difference was that Strata was using Majordomo, and John
was using Mailman.
They were both using sendmail as their MTA, and Strata had already
tried throwing considerably bigger hardware at the problem before she
started going through all the various hoops that she ultimately ended
In John's paper, he outlined that the key performance improvement was
in the automated way that Mailman handled all the bounces. I imagine
that the queueing & retry mechanisms built into Mailman probably also
help, but that would be very secondary.
But we do get back to that rate-limiting issue, and other factors
where this particular use of this application is likely to get your
account revoked and all Internet access for your business summarily
Neither you nor your boss are likely to want that to happen.
> 3) Now start using the provided tools to manage your extremely-valuable,
> cleaned and verified customer mailing list and send them stuff _they_
> find useful frequently enough that it becomes a relationship and not
> junk mail.
The technical issues mentioned above are not your biggest problem.
Not by a longshot.
Providing sufficient value to your customers that they don't all file
lawsuits against you for spamming them -- that's actually your
If you can get the value proposition resolved before you send out the
first message, then everything else becomes a relatively simple
exercise in running some software for a few hours on a server
Brad Knowles <brad at shub-internet.org>
LinkedIn Profile: <http://tinyurl.com/y8kpxu>
More information about the SATLUG