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Vacation programs and other automatic mail programs :

If you use a vacation program or other "mailbot" on your account, make sure it is smart enough to not respond to mailing lists.

We treat vacation notices like a piece of bounced e-mail. If we start getting vacation "bounces", we'll unsubscribe an account as if the address was getting "user unknown" messages. If we find it sending messages to the lists directly, or to users posting messages to the lists, you'll be removed immediately.

If you set up a vacation program or other auto-response mailbot, please be careful to try to avoid situations that can start mail loops or cause problems for others who recieve mail from you:

  • Don't just respond to all e-mail you get. If you end up getting e-mail from another mail daemon, you start a loop that can cause your mailbox to fill with literally thousands of responses. To protect yourself against this, set up your responder to only respond to a given address once over a period of time (once a week is preferred). Real users will appreciate not getting constantly reminded that you're not there, and you don't come back from vacation to find out that you and the majordomo mail daemon have been yelling at each other for five days.
  • Only respond to first class mail. If mail is sent out "bulk", it's an indication that it should not be sent any kind of message. Our mail lists include a header of Precedence: bulk on all postings so that vacation programs can realize this is a mail list and not respond. Some systems also use Precedence: list or Precedence: junk headers. If there's a Precedence header of any type, it's generally safer not to respond to it.
  • See if a Sender: header exists in the e-mail. If it does, and if that header has the string "owner-" as part of the return address for the sender, then the message is from a mailing list of some sort, and you shouldn't respond to it.

Taking a little care with your mailbots can save you a lot of hassle and answering of unhappy e-mail when you return. A badly implemented vacation program can make hundreds of people unhappy with you.

 

 

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