Blocking correspondence labeled "Precedence: bulk"

Hi, all -

We are addressing for the first time the problem of how to filter mail
from outside users into RT.

Our first problem is not spam, but autoreplies from vendors. We have
given an RT queue address as the contact address for some of our
partners and clients to report problems. When they send mail, it opens
a ticket and RT sends an autoreply. That autoreply, in turn, often
generates a new autoreply from the vendor, which opens a new ticket in RT.

After looking at some of the inbound mail it looks as if dropping
inbound mail with a header of “Precedence: bulk” would do a good first
pass at eliminating the autoreplies. I’m writing to ask: has anyone
tried this and found it to be a bad idea?

thanks,
–twp

After looking at some of the inbound mail it looks as if dropping
inbound mail with a header of “Precedence: bulk” would do a good first
pass at eliminating the autoreplies. I’m writing to ask: has anyone
tried this and found it to be a bad idea?

Well, it would stop all mail from another RT instance getting to you.
Precedence: bulk is best trreated as “Do not reply” and not “Do not
record”.

-jess

Tim Pierce twp@rnktel.com writes:

After looking at some of the inbound mail it looks as if dropping
inbound mail with a header of “Precedence: bulk” would do a good first
pass at eliminating the autoreplies. I’m writing to ask: has anyone
tried this and found it to be a bad idea?

“Precedence: bulk” indicates that the e-mail is either from a mailing
list or somehow autogenerated (like an autoreply). It is almost always
a good idea to filter those out from any automated e-mail handling, so
yes, do go ahead.

Leif Nixon - Systems expert
National Supercomputer Centre - Linkoping University

Tim Pierce twp@rnktel.com writes:

After looking at some of the inbound mail it looks as if dropping
inbound mail with a header of “Precedence: bulk” would do a good first
pass at eliminating the autoreplies. I’m writing to ask: has anyone
tried this and found it to be a bad idea?

“Precedence: bulk” indicates that the e-mail is either from a mailing
list or somehow autogenerated (like an autoreply). It is almost always
a good idea to filter those out from any automated e-mail handling, so
yes, do go ahead.

There’s a very important nuance here. Replying to them is bad. Dropping
them on the floor is even worse. Just because mail has been proxied by
an automated system doesn’t mean it’s junk.

Jesse Vincent jesse@bestpractical.com writes:> On Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 08:10:53PM +0200, Leif Nixon wrote:

“Precedence: bulk” indicates that the e-mail is either from a mailing
list or somehow autogenerated (like an autoreply). It is almost always
a good idea to filter those out from any automated e-mail handling, so
yes, do go ahead.

There’s a very important nuance here. Replying to them is bad. Dropping
them on the floor is even worse. Just because mail has been proxied by
an automated system doesn’t mean it’s junk.

You have a point - I’d like to change my “yes, do go ahead” to “yes,
it is possible that it would be a good solution for you”. You have
to consider what other kinds of automated mail that might wind in
your RT.

Leif Nixon - Systems expert
National Supercomputer Centre - Linkoping University

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Hash: SHA1On Thu, 28 Sep 2006 at 14:13 (-0400), Jesse Vincent wrote:

On Thu, Sep 28, 2006 at 08:10:53PM +0200, Leif Nixon wrote:

“Precedence: bulk” indicates that the e-mail is either from a mailing
list or somehow autogenerated (like an autoreply). It is almost always
a good idea to filter those out from any automated e-mail handling, so
yes, do go ahead.

There’s a very important nuance here. Replying to them is bad. Dropping
them on the floor is even worse. Just because mail has been proxied by
an automated system doesn’t mean it’s junk.

We ran into this problem a few weeks ago. One of our RT systems is
addressed via a publicly advertised campus email address that had been
implemented as a majordomo list(*). Mail generated by such lists uses
’Precedence: bulk’ headers, so AutoReplies weren’t being sent back to the
Requestors.

It took me a while to figure out what was going on, especially since
AutoReply had been working before when a different RT mailing address was
used, during testing. We ended up changing from a majordomo list to a
simple mail forwarder(*).

I briefly contemplated changing RT to remove ‘Precedence: bulk’ from the
list of headers that RT considers as belonging to mail that shouldn’t be
replied to. But, for reasons implied by Jesse’s comments (though with a
different slant), I didn’t want to take such a rash action that would fly
in the face of standard mail header usage.

Mike

(*) It was first set up as a majordomo list because the self-service web
page provided by the campus central mail server administrators no longer
allows setting up of simple mail forwarders (because of spam issues).
Once this problem with RT was discovered, special arrangements were made
with the server administrators to get a simple list created for this
purpose.

Mike Friedman IST/System and Network Security
mikef@ack.Berkeley.EDU 2484 Shattuck Avenue
1-510-642-1410 University of California at Berkeley
http://socrates.berkeley.edu/~mikef http://security.berkeley.edu

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