Great Circle Associates List-Managers
(May 2001)

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Subject: autoresponders and vacation notices (was: problem)
From: James M Galvin <galvin @ acm . org>
Date: Fri, 04 May 2001 10:14:20 -0400 (EDT)
To: Nick Simicich <njs @ scifi . squawk . com>
Cc: List-Managers @ GreatCircle . COM
In-reply-to: <3 . 0 . 3 . 32 . 20010503192034 . 01a06120 @ 127 . 0 . 0 . 1>

Oh now this is a fun topic to discuss on this list (NOT!)  However, I
will send this one message about it.

RFC2298 defines Message Delivery Notifications, the intended use of
which is to report to a sender conditions that occur after a message is
delivered.  It states that such reports go to the Envelope From, or
Return Path, which means that list failed mail processors must be
prepared to deal with such things.  Thus, you are correct and the system
used by Sharon is not behaving in a way consistent with the Standard.

However, RFC2298 very carefully does not use the word "vacation" or
"responder" anywhere.  In fact, it only speaks directly to issues like
whether a message was read, displayed, deleted, or the recipient is not
telling, although it does provide an extension mechanism that uses the
now common "X-" prefix.

The all important question is whether autoresponders and vacation
notices are subject to RFC2298.  The question is not answered in the
standard because it was and continues to be a contentious issue.

My preference has always been that vacation notices and autoresponders
are not subject to RFC2298, which would mean that Sharon system's is
just fine.  What I would like to see is a Standard that says vacation
notices and autoreponders reply to the message REPLY-TO or FROM header
but (and this is a very BIG BUT) only if the recipient is actually
listed in the message TO or CC header.

Of course there are some list processors that break this model, but I
prefer to consider them broken.  And I'm not including marketing efforts
in this model that explicitly support personalization.

On the other hand, I could probably be sold on an appropriate extension
to RFC2298 that explicitly identified vacation notices and
autoresponders.  List failed mail processors beware....

Your mileage may vary.


On Thu, 3 May 2001, Nick Simicich wrote:

    Date: Thu, 03 May 2001 19:20:34 -0400
    From: Nick Simicich <njs @
 scifi .
 squawk .
    To: List-Managers @
 GreatCircle .
    Subject: Re: problem
    At 04:56 PM 5/3/2001 -0400, Sharon Tucci wrote:
    >the original message. Logically, these bounces SHOULD be
    >going direct to the FROM address or REPLY TO address in
    >posts, but they are actually going to the return-path
    >address instead.
    Hiss, boo, evil! Autoresponders should go to the RFC821 sender (what you
    are calling Return path) so that they do not go to lists and pollute them.
    For human senders, these are probably the same address, which is what you
    want. For lists, these are not, which is also what you want.
    The reality is just as was suggested:  These bounces need to be parsed, so
    that auto-responder stuff can be ignored.
    We will fight for bovine freedom, And hold our large heads high.
    We will run free, with the buffalo or die! Cows with Guns.
     - Dana Lyons, Cows With Guns
    Nick Simicich mailto:njs @
 scifi .
 squawk .
 com -- Stop by and Light Up The World!

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