OpenNMS Mailing List Etiquette

Well, the OpenNMS server has been listed as a source of Spam – again.

For those who follow the mailing lists, you may remember the last time this happened.

The OpenNMS server is hosted at Rackspace Managed Hosting. They are a really amazing provider of dedicated servers: you can run any O/S you want and have access to an incredible amount of bandwidth.

Unfortunately, some people abuse this and use their servers for such things as Spam. This is against the Rackspace Fair Use Policy and the servers are shut down, but the damage has been done.

The damage occurs because Rackspace does not have an unlimited supply of IP addresses, thus someone legitimate may end up with an ex-Spammer’s address. If that address has been blacklisted, however, mail from the new server will be blocked.

I like Rackspace because they provide a needed service while allowing their clients a lot of freedom, limited only by the Fair Use Policy. With any freedom, however, there can be abuse, and Rackspace does it’s best to limit it.

Unfortunately, there are people out there that maintain lists of IP addresses of Spam sources. Instead of trying to find a way to insure that this list is accurrate, they have taken to blacklisting entire subnets. Unfortunately, OpenNMS has fallen victim to this more than once.

The latest was from RoadRunner. As of Monday, RoadRunner blocked mail from the OpenNMS server. Luckily, a) I know someone who works there, and b) RoadRunner is also a well run business and they have a fairly straightforward system for getting your server whitelisted again. They have promised to whitelist our IP addresses, but as of now this isn’t the case.

Whew, sorry for the long story but it does have a point. If you are having problems receiving mail from the discussion lists, check with your Internet provider or admin to see if we have been blacklisted. If you are subscribing you should get a confirmation e-mail from us within a minute.

Insure that mail from 209.61.155.240 is allowed.

If you are subscribed and suddenly stop receiving messages, log in via the web to the appropriate management page such as this one for “discuss” and see if your preferences have been set to “no mail”. Mailman will automatically do this if mail bounces from your account, perhaps due to a Spam filter.

While I am on the subject, here are a couple of other OpenNMS e-mail gotchas to watch out for:

1) Out of Office messages: if you subscribe to an OpenNMS list, do not set your mailer up to auto-respond with an “Out of Office” message. I don’t get to take vacation so I don’t want to hear about yours (grin). Most auto-responders can look at the message headers and avoid responding to those messages from lists, so please take the time to set them up if you want to use one. Out of Office messages will get you removed from the list immediately, and you’ll need to re-subscribe.

2) Reply To All: Many people are used to hitting “Reply to All” when responding to messages on the list to insure that the author gets a copy (the list is the default Reply-To address). On some mailers, however, it will list both the “@opennms.org” address and the “@lists.opennms.org” address. Those messages end up going to the same place, so the list gets hit with double messages. Please be aware of this and check your mailer if you use this method. Double posts are annoying, but they won’t get you kicked off the list (grin).

3) Getting Kicked off the List: There is only one address I have ever banned from sending mail to OpenNMS, and I actually only did that for a week. The reason was this person posted numerous messages, one after the other, asking (well, demanding) help and was upset when no one responded after four hours on a Saturday, so he posted his questions again. OpenNMS is run by volunteers, so keep that in mind when posting questions. We are a community dedicated to producing the best Network Management System available, and doing it as open-source, but most of us have day jobs. If you need immediate support, consider a commercial support contract from Sortova.

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