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The Internet Communications Businesses

EarthLink Is Losing a Lot of Email 291

Posted by Zonk
from the that's-like-leaving-an-internet-cut-unhealed dept.
LandGator writes "Robert X. Cringely, doyen compu-columnist for PBS, reports on a hidden e-mail problem at Earthlink: They're losing up to 9 messages out of 10, found as a result of a friend's testing." From the article: "He sent messages from other accounts to his Earthlink address, to his aliased Blackberry address, and to his Gmail account. For every 10 messages sent, 1-2 arrived in his Earthlink mailbox, 1-2 (not necessarily the SAME 1-2) on his Blackberry, and all 10 arrived with Gmail. Swimming upstream through Earthlink customer support, my buddy finally found a technical contact who freely acknowledged the problem. Since June, he was told, Earthlink's mail system has been so overloaded that some users have been missing up to 90 percent of their incoming e-mail. It isn't bounced back to senders; it just disappears. And Earthlink hasn't mentioned the problem to these affected customers unless they complain."
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EarthLink Is Losing a Lot of Email

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:31AM (#17161700)
    However, it was via email.
    • by clickety6 (141178)
      And the customers have also been complaining in their 1000s to complaints_dept@earthlink.com

      • by NetFusion (86828)
        And this illustrates a common reason why earthlink customers dont get emails sent to them.

        It's user@earthlink.net not user@earthlink.com
  • by Atlantis-Rising (857278) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:31AM (#17161706) Homepage
    Is earthlink hosting slashdot?!
  • by Timtimes (730036) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:31AM (#17161712) Homepage
    Less spam. Enjoy.
  • DIY (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tverbeek (457094) * on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:33AM (#17161732) Homepage
    This sort of thing is the reason I host my own e-mail. At least this way I usually know when it's broken, and I have the opportunity to fix it.
    • Re:DIY (Score:5, Informative)

      by vertinox (846076) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:47AM (#17161926)
      This sort of thing is the reason I host my own e-mail. At least this way I usually know when it's broken, and I have the opportunity to fix it.

      Technically that is against the ToS for regular Earthlink accounts.

      Secondly they like to block a lot of traffic on email-esque ports.

      Either way... As a former employee, I'm not surprised.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475)
        "Technically that is against the ToS for regular Earthlink accounts."

        So...get a business acct. I had one with Cox..was great. Static IP...no caps on uploads or downloads...could run all the servers I wanted, and a low level SLA. The one time I had trouble, I called the support line..rather than put me on hold, I left a msg. with my problem. In about 3 min..I had a tech call ME back.

        It was only about $70/mo....I'd highly recommend it.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        As a former employee, I'm not surprised.

        Same here. Ever since they closed the Pasadena Call Center and dumped about 2/3 of their most experienced employees the quality of service has been dropping. It used to be that you had to understand what was going on in order to work there. Now, all you need is the ability to read scripts. You don't even need to be able to tell when the scripts don't apply, or when to ask somebody that knows what they're doing for help. Just read the script and don't care if i

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jandrese (485)
      I'm surprised you can do this. Most ISPs block port 25 traffic that isn't sent to or from their own badly overloaded email servers. The more breathless among us might even claim that spam is outright killing email as a communication tool.
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Dun Malg (230075)

        I'm surprised you can do this. Most ISPs block port 25 traffic that isn't sent to or from their own badly overloaded email servers.

        No, only the bad ISPs block port 25 unilaterally without appeal. If you're on cable or cheap fucker ILEC administered DSL, yeah, youu probably can't go out through port 25. You probably also don't have a static IP either. Any halfway decent DSL ISP will open port 25 for you upon request. I use DSL Extreme and while they do block 25 by default, i only need to log in to their website and check a box to open it up.

        • I don't see anything wrong with blocking 25 for customers without static IPs. Assuming the ISP offers a good relay service, it shouldn't even matter.
        • by SScorpio (595836)
          SBC/AT&T do this as well with their DSL service though it requires opening a trouble ticket rather than just selecting a box. I actually wish more ISPs would do this and help stop all of the zombied spam going around.
    • > This sort of thing is the reason I host my own e-mail.
      > At least this way I usually know when it's broken, and I have the opportunity to fix it.

      tverbeek can be reached at tverbeek@masochist.net

    • I agree! I also run my own mailserver for myself and some clients. After trying lots of different ISPs and web hosting companies I have come to the conclusion that most people are completely inept at keeping a mailserver running and keeping spam levels low. Big ISPs are especially bad at it in my experience, I was using them until I got fed up with misconfigured servers that bounced back messages routinely and which seemed to go down all the time.
      • Re:DIY (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jafiwam (310805) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:55PM (#17163616) Homepage Journal
        Essentially true.

        Though I wouldn't use the word "inept".

        Try putting a couple hundred domains and 10k users on it and your threat surface for spammers goes up exponentially from a small server with a few domains and a couple hundred users.

        Ours gets tens of thousands of bogus connection attempts from spammers per hour. How many are you getting? 50? That's not including the stuff that does get into the filters to be processed by the rules.

        Until you have run a big box with lots of users on it, you have no freaking idea what we deal with on a daily basis. And it has gotten MUCH worse in the past 18 months.
  • by matth (22742) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:38AM (#17161782) Homepage
    E-mail should never be lost! We had an issue where I work with e-mail BACKING UP for a few months while we implimented new mail servers... but no mail was ever lost.. it either got bounced back (not usually) or would arrive several hours after it was sent. To actually LOOSE e-mail indicates that Earthlink is ACCEPTING the mail and then DUMPING it!!!! When our servers were overloaded, we just rejected the connection, until the mail server could handle more mail.. and then we accepted it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Exactly. At the very least it should be saving the email and sending it later, not just ignoring it. It is not that complicated; it's cetainly technically feasible. Of course, this is Earthlink we're talking about. I used to have these guys as my ISP before cable became widely available, and the system for connecting was a mess (If you tried to use Outlook instead of Outlook Express, for instance, it would require uninstalling/reinstalling their client software.)
    • by matth (22742)
      Correction... LOOSE should be LOSE.. D'oh!
    • by gregmark (750089) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:20AM (#17162362)
      E-mail should never be lost! ... To actually LOOSE e-mail indicates that Earthlink is ACCEPTING the mail and then DUMPING it!!!!

      This is absolutely correct, so any policy checks that occur during the SMTP handshake (who are you? where are you coming from? who do you want to send to? how much data do you have? Oh, do you now? REJECT). However, anti-spam and anti-virus checks happen after the message is accepted. If the result of the check is X, and policy rules say drop mail on the floor when X, then bye-bye e-mail and sorry Bond, the government will not ackowledge its involvement.
      Otherwise, the only way to loose mail is to shutdown a machine with a heavy queue and throw out the disk. SMTP is impervious to network badness. My money is on an SMTP policy run amok.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by silas_moeckel (234313)
        If your antispam and antivirus are running after you have accepted the email your system in broken. This is all companies playing fast and loose with the RFC's you should never accept mail that you are not going to deliver. This really is not that hard to run spam and virus checks as milters (or whatever your email application does) or place front ends that do so.
      • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:05PM (#17162914) Journal
        However, anti-spam and anti-virus checks happen after the message is accepted. If the result of the check is X, and policy rules say drop mail on the floor when X, then

        Then it's a horrible policy.

        Every single email service I've signed up for that does spam filtering has a "spam" or "bulk mail" or "junk mail" folder. I implemented my own when I deployed my own personal server.

        And virus scans should be able to remove the virus and tag the message as "WHOOPS THIS HAS A VIRUS", but shouuld not drop them on the floor.

        If this is causing undue stress, you could implement policies in the handshake. "Oh, I've gotten 100 emails from you in the past hour, and 90 of them were spam/viruses. REJECT." Or put it in some sort of tarpit.

        An email service losing email is somewhat like anyone losing data these days. There is absolutely no situation where email should completely disappear into an email server and never come out.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by SecurityGuy (217807)
      Never? I think you have an unrealistic expectation of the quality of service you can expect from email. I don't believe email has ever guaranteed delivery. We've just gotten used to the fact that like the postal orifice, it nearly always works, so we act like it really always works.

      That said, 90% failure is ridiculous. :)

      • by jackbird (721605)
        Email doesn't have guaranteed delivery (it may not get to the destination), but the destination mailserver accepting the message is supposed to be a confirmation of delivery.
      • SMTP Digression (Score:5, Informative)

        by Spaceman40 (565797) <blinks@@@acm...org> on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:55PM (#17163602) Homepage Journal
        I think you have an unrealistic expectation of the quality of service you can expect from email.
        I wrote an SMTP server a while back (to check out Ruby's network libraries), and while going through the RFCs I found that there are expectations of quality that include delivery of something. It all comes down to the protocol: if a server accepts a message, it takes responsibility for the message's delivery. A server should reject the message if it cannot deliver (causing the delivery server to either try again later or tell the user there's a problem).

        To be losing mail, Earthlink servers must be accepting mail and then throwing it away, or at the very least, not continuing to forward it to the destination, which is just as bad. This goes completely against how the system is supposed to work. If they can't handle the load, there's a specific set of return codes to give (RFC821 [faqs.org], section 4.2):

        450 Requested mail action not taken: mailbox unavailable [E.g., mailbox busy]
        550 Requested action not taken: mailbox unavailable [E.g., mailbox not found, no access]
        451 Requested action aborted: error in processing
        452 Requested action not taken: insufficient system storage
        552 Requested mail action aborted: exceeded storage allocation
        553 Requested action not taken: mailbox name not allowed [E.g., mailbox syntax incorrect]
        554 Transaction failed
        I understand your perspective -- email is a loosely connected system, with lots of points of failure. However, in the vast majority of cases, a failure at one point will cause either delays or errors, not dropped mail.
  • by CoolVibe (11466) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:40AM (#17161800) Journal
    I checked their mailservers (what the MX record reports anyway), and they have a very generic ESMTP banner, not really apparent which MTA they use. I want to know which MTA can lose mail because of overload. So I can avoid it like the plague. I do know for a fact that Sendmail and Postfix send a 4xx error if mail cannot be spooled for delivery (for whatever reason), allowing the sending MX to retry at a later time. There is absolutely NO excuse for a mailserver dropping mail like that.
    • by yourlord (473099) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:06AM (#17162202) Homepage
      Earthlink uses an SMTP server they developed in house because they felt the existing servers out there would not scale to the level they needed and were not secure enough.

      I used to work there back in the day.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        At the time Earthlink wrote their MTA, they were 100% right about the scalability thing.

        These days, good old postfix is more than sufficient. Or qmail, if you can stand it -- it works for Yahoo, who deals with more than a little bit of email.
    • by eln (21727)
      No MTA in common use will just drop email on the floor like that unless something is very very wrong, such as a major configuration error or something. I can't think of a scenario, though, where intermittent emails would just disappear without a trace, unless Earthlink has some sort of custom system in place that drops email under heavy load. If that's the case, that would be a very poorly thought out system.

      By the way, even if you could get something useful out of their SMTP banner, that isn't necessaril
  • by kalirion (728907) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:40AM (#17161806)
    This isn't a free webmail account, this is something customers pay for. Some people could have lost a lot of business. And what if someone has been searching for a job for the last 6 months and their monster.com etc contact info has only this email address?
    • My kids didn't get much if any of the email I sent them to theit hotmail addresses. With their help I tested this and sure enough, my logs indicate mail is being passed off to hotmail and then just goes into a black hole never to be delivered.

      I use the phone a lot more now. Email is such a crapshoot these days.

      • by robogun (466062)
        I know they drop silently if your server has no spf, I had to open a Hotmail account to contact Hotmail customers. They have gotten pretty xenophobic in the last couple of months.

        SImilarly, back in the day I had to open an AOL account to contact AOL customers, but that was because AOL had a junkmail setting to block all non-AOL email "sent from the internet."

        Earthlink is turning rapidly into a turd, in addition to dropping valid emails, they now browser jack [slashdot.org] you.
    • by olyar (591892) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:09AM (#17162234) Homepage Journal
      From their policies section [earthlink.net]
      3. THE SERVICE Depending on the type of Service that you choose, the Service may include internet access, software, hardware, email, webspace...
      ...and further down...
      THE SERVICES ARE PROVIDED ON AN "AS IS" AND "AS AVAILABLE" BASIS. EARTHLINK DOES NOT WARRANT THAT THE SERVICES WILL BE UNINTERRUPTED, ERROR-FREE OR FREE OF VIRUSES, OR OTHER HARMFUL COMPONENTS. So while it sounds like its horrible customer service, it doesn't sound like they're in any danger of being sued.
      • Just because somebody writes "You can't sue us" in their Terms of Service or EULA or whatever doesn't mean you can't sue them. This is especially the case if they know that a lot of incoming mail gets lost, and don't disclose this fact when they sell e-mail services.
  • by Joebert (946227) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:42AM (#17161830) Homepage
    My luck, the one email this chick got from me, was the one with me telling her off for not answering the other 9.
    • Something like that actually happened to me when I was using the free Juno email about 10 years ago. I wasn't even sure to believe her when she told me she'd only received the last one until others I'd emailed let me know they hadn't ever received my email either.
  • by Otter (3800) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:42AM (#17161840) Journal
    1) I didn't know EarthLink was still around.

    2) I didn't know Cringely was still around.

    If it hadn't been for the reference to GMail, I'd be wondering if this story had been sitting in the queue since 1998. Now, off to buy some LNUX shares, and one of those Tommy Hilfiger straps to hang my keys around my neck!

  • by BrianRoach (614397) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:43AM (#17161854)

    I run an online retail business, and non-tech savy customers using earthlink don't get a lot of our email.

    Biggest problem is that Earthlink uses a white-list spam blocking setup that sends back a time-limited challenge to the sender ("Please go to this link and fill in this form so that this user can receive your mail").

    We get these challenges when our automated system sends messages to customers ... but there's simply no practical way to respond to them all within the time limit (during business hours it's not practical - it's impossible at 2am while you're sleeping). And unfortunately it seems that a lot of their members simply don't understand what it means when you tell them they have to add you to their list or they won't get your email.

    - Roach

    • by Shivetya (243324)
      There are several of the larger companies that do reply to those challenges. My EL account is protected by the challenge response system and for the majority of businesses I buy from I add them to the allowed list. A few did actually fill out the request that EL automatically generates.

      If people can write code to figure out captchas (or whatever those pictures are) they could certainly write a piece of code to respond properly or act on challenge requests.

    • Hey Brian,

      Your problem could be your users or it could be you.

      USER LAZINESS Suspect email to the user sits in Earthlink's SuspectEmail page for a default of 14 days. Earthlink users can easily go that page to move email and add you to their address book. However checking a web page takes energy and users might not do that very diligently.

      MULTIPLE EMAIL ADDRESSES One problem with some businesses email is they constantly change their internal email address. For example NRA (National Rifle Association) always
      • Thanks for the info ... I obviously don't use Earthlink so I didn't know the user could still view the email even though the challenge wasn't responded to. I suspect, however, that many people have gotten to the point where they don't bother to even read through that folder You would think they would if they were expecting something, but ... assumptions never seem to work out.

        As for the email address, our outgoing address has been the same for years. It never changes (You should see how much junk we get per
    • Biggest problem is that Earthlink uses a white-list spam blocking setup that sends back a time-limited challenge to the sender ("Please go to this link and fill in this form so that this user can receive your mail").

      The whitelist is an opt-in thing. Their email service defaults to not using it-- I still use earthlink email for a lot of stuff for historical reasons (it's a pita to change a lot of people over to a new address). I don't think I've had much mail go missing, but I might send myself some tests.
    • by Secrity (742221)
      I could respond to the Earthlink email challenges, but I won't. I no longer send any mail to Earthlink addresses because of this.
    • by Guppy06 (410832)
      "Biggest problem is that Earthlink uses a white-list spam blocking setup that sends back a time-limited challenge to the sender"

      It's opt-in, off by default. The user has to go into their webmail interface and turn it on from there. If it's on, it's not by accident.

      "We get these challenges when our automated system sends messages to customers"

      And this, ladies and gentlemen (well, gentlemen), is why email hosts have these whitelists and why people use them. "Would you like to not opt-out of our informative
      • And this, ladies and gentlemen (well, gentlemen), is why email hosts have these whitelists and why people use them. "Would you like to not opt-out of our informative and exciting hourly emails?"

        Oooh, I just love it when people make stupid assumptions!

        Here's the total list of emails sent by our system, to which I was referring:

        1) MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) restricted item pricing. This is the biggest. It is sent when a customer requests it to be sent to get pricing on a MAP controlled item to be able to
  • by clickety6 (141178) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:44AM (#17161884)
    ... an Earthlink representative said that he had received no notice of any email problems. Next question please.

  • by Erwos (553607)
    My guess is that they're getting pummelled by spam, and weren't keeping up fast enough with new hardware. From anecdotal evidence, it appears that the recent increase in spam has been hell on many ISPs, which is why you're seeing ever more pervasive measures to bounce or absorb the stuff before it starts hitting their actual mail servers. "Buy more mail servers" isn't always a great solution, and it's sure as hell a more expensive one than trying to just decrease that spam before it hits your mail servers b
  • ...their tubes are clogged!
  • by aliendisaster (1001260) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:47AM (#17161924)
    I used to work for a hosting company (a pretty shitey one at that). They refused to update their mail systems so all customers had email issues. They used an old customized version of SendMail on the Linux box's. The problem, the queues were getting full and either locking the mail up or raising the machine's processes up so it could no longer do anything. The solution, delete the mail off the server and kill all processes. This was a temporary solution that turned into a permanent one because "It worked." The problem was, the mail was gone when it happened so all the tech support guys had to hear the poo poo mad customers.

    I would wager thats whats going on here and they don't want to admit it. There is some admin there (or it could be company policy) that see's alot of mail getting queued up but not being delivered but instead of fixing the problem he just deletes the mail and everything's fine.
  • I have a vanity domain, and I run a mail server on a VPS. I have things set up to forward my email to both a POP3 account provided by my ISP and to gmail. Every now and then, I'll have an email that makes it to gmail but never shows up in my POP3 account. The ratio isn't anything close to what's reported in the article, though -- I think it happens once in several thousand emails.

    I'm not posting my ISP here because I haven't done a rigourous test, and don't want to accuse anyone unfairly with estimated n
  • by TheWoozle (984500) on Friday December 08, 2006 @10:48AM (#17161938)
    and he just piped the e-mail to /dev/null. All that e-mail was taking up too much disk space, anyways.
  • ...a precipitous drop in the amount of spam they have received.
  • by pmuellr (213665) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:00AM (#17162124)
    Last month or so, yahoo started bouncing email from earthlink. 100% of the time. Calls to support eventually indicated it was a known problem (didn't admit it until pressed), and then indicated multi-day wait for it to be fixed. It was easier to fix on my wife's side; reroute her mail through my hosting server. Though the advice from our 13 year old son was probably the best: "why aren't you using gmail?"
  • ... Get your own domain and host your own e-mail. I use SquirrelMail (http://www.squirrelmail.org/) with SpamAssassin (http://www.squirrelmail.org/plugin_view.php?id=16 7) running on a PIII with Red Hat on it. The net result? Minimal SPAM and reliable e-mail that *I* control.

    Problem solved IMHO.
    • Not if you have the usual consumer-class cable or DSL. Those IPs are assumed to be spambots by Earthlink and Yahoo, for starters. Speakeasy would probably work, or colo a box, but that seems a bit extreme.

      I was having trouble with Yahoo! losing my mail a while back so I decided to keep my Earthlink account since they've always been clueful. D'oh...

      C'mon guys, if a few $grand for an Opteron server or two is going to break the bank it's time to hang it up. Just give us fair warning.
      • This is very possibly what's happening in the tests-- the mail server that the mail is coming from may not be set up properly to look like a respectable non-spamming server and earthlink is simply dumping email that comes from it.

        I use earthlink for some of my email, and when I send email that uses postfix on my mac at home as the outgoing server earthlink drops it on the way in (as do many other large ISPs). I think most of my other accounts (including my web hosting service at hub.org) do a better job of
  • by vmxeo (173325) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:05AM (#17162172) Homepage Journal

    Have you seen the commercials? They've off-shored half their jobs to magic-fairytale land. They've probably got some under trained ogre for an email admin who stands around the water cooler all day chatting with the fairies. Sure, it's a lot cheaper when you can pay your staff in pixie dust, but you end up getting bitten by poor customer service (I had to call them the other day, and the customer service rep had such a thick elven accent I could barely understand him). Outsourcing just doesn't work...

  • If you can't send mail to an Earthlink user because of whitelists it's because the whitelist has been set by the user to do that. It's an option that all Earthlink customers get. In fact there's a setting where you can reject all inbound email unless it's from an entry that's already in your own addressbook. So if Earthlink is losing mail to a given customer it's probably unsolicited garbage. Because as far as I can tell, every single piece of email I ever needed to see or expected to see has been delivered
    • DING DING DING!!! We have a winner.

      I've been using Earthlink for ten years now and with a very few exceptions where they specifically stated that they were having issues (web acces, email, etc), I have never had a single email which was sent to me get lost.

      My original email account is the one I use for people to contact me if they stumble upon my web page (hosted by Earthlink also) and it got overrun with spam, even with max filtering, so I added a new email address just for parents and friends and it has
    • The guy was sending emails to himself. 9/10 emails from himself lost indicates that either there's a problem with lost mail or there's a problem with his whitelist.
  • by martin (1336) <maxsec@@@gmail...com> on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:09AM (#17162240) Journal
    Lets remember way back when this happened all the time shall we.....and we used to say to the users.....

    "there is no guarantee of email delivery" (and optionally "Get over it")

    Remember this folks, no where in the RFC's is there anything that states email will get delivered....

    Just because all us sys-admins do such a great job, most of the time it does get there, people forget the dark ages of the internet when this would happen all the time.

    OK 90% email loss is really really bad, and it use to be more like 5% loss (at worst), but people need to remember email isn't guaranteed.
     
    • by soccerisgod (585710) on Friday December 08, 2006 @11:43AM (#17162626)
      Just because all us sys-admins do such a great job, most of the time it does get there, people forget the dark ages of the internet when this would happen all the time.

      Back then, you may have had an excuse. Today, the excuse that the RFC doesn't specify email gets delivered should get you fired for being a failure who doesn't give a shit. Just my $0.02.

    • But if they started losing 9 out of every 10 letters you mailed, how long would you keep using them?
    • Remember this folks, no where in the RFC's is there anything that states email will get delivered....

      It is true that there is no end-to-end mechanism with SMTP, and for that reason you can't be assured the email will get delivered. But IIRC the RFC's state that you can't tell an SMTP server you get mail from that you really have it until you have the mail committed to _disk_, not just memory. And if you have the mail sitting on the hard drive, nothing short of filesystem corruption should cause you to lo

    • by TheJasper (1031512) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:48PM (#17163498)

      Remember this folks, no where in the RFC's is there anything that states email will get delivered....
      This is what I thought when I read the headline (having used that excuse in the past ;). So I immediately looked up RFC2821 - Simple Mail Transfer Protocol


      6.1 Reliable Delivery and Replies by Email

            When the receiver-SMTP accepts a piece of mail (by sending a "250 OK"
            message in response to DATA), it is accepting responsibility for
            delivering or relaying the message. It must take this responsibility
            seriously. It MUST NOT lose the message for frivolous reasons, such
            as because the host later crashes or because of a predictable
            resource shortage.

            If there is a delivery failure after acceptance of a message, the
            receiver-SMTP MUST formulate and mail a notification message.


      naturally there is alot more, including cases where it is acceptable not to send a notification, but I don't think any apply here.

      So basically, SMTP is defined as a reliable protocol which guarantees delivery or notification of failure. The days of unreliable e-mail no longer apply.
  • I loved his story of how service tags automatically time out.

    Reminds me of the time Verizon DSL switched my DSL service from fixed IP address to PPoE _without notifying me._ Since they hadn't notified me, effectively I completely lost internet connectivity. Unfortunately, this happened at about the same time there was a major worm or virus attack.

    When I called them, the first checked the electronic connection from my house to the telco office (approximately 1000 feet away), and said it was perfect and there
  • I liked his description of how his Megapath service "guarantee" didn't mean what anyone would have thought it meant. For reasons I don't understand, this sort of nonsense has been rife in IT circles for a long time.

    Back, back through the wayback machine to the 1970s, when I was trying to conduct a class exercise at a major state university that shall remain nameless.

    The university's computing center published a newsletter every month and every month near the top was the uptime for the month, typically 99.4%
  • Technically, we do not know that the email was *lost*, nor can we ever know.

    All we know is that is has not arrived... yet...

    It could be that they have a really really long timeout, and that the 4xx error will at some point be sent... or that they have it, and have not yet delievered.

    Seeing a black sheep in the field does not prove that every sheep is black, nor that there is at least one black sheep. All you can prove is that there is at least one sheep that is black on at least one side...
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by value_added (719364)
      Technically, we do not know that the email was *lost*, nor can we ever know.

      Seeing a black sheep in the field does not prove that every sheep is black, nor that there is at least one black sheep. All you can prove is that there is at least one sheep that is black on at least one side.


      Donald Rumsfeld, is that you?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DoorFrame (22108)
        There are known emails and unknown emails, and those divide into the known unknown emails and the unknown unknown emails. THOSE are the ones you've got to watch out for.
        • There are known emails and unknown emails, and those divide into the known unknown emails and the unknown unknown emails. THOSE are the ones you've got to watch out for.

          Sniff.

          Pure poetry.
  • If they just lost the right 9/10, then I would get only about 100 spams a day.
  • Any self respecting computer nerd uses SPEAKEASY

    pffft. EarthLink - you might as well be on AOL.
  • Bullshit (Score:2, Insightful)

    Something stinks here. This article does not have a lot to stand on. "A friend's testing"?! How scientific is that? And anyway, Earthlink is not exactly a fly-by-night operation. Don't you think more people would have noticed if 9 out of 10 of their emails were disapearing since June!? No way. This is crap. I have two earthlink accounts and I haven't noticed anything. Maybe his "friend" is just an idiot. Maybe Cringely is just an idiot I have nothing for or against Earthlink, I just hate bad info
  • by mpapet (761907) on Friday December 08, 2006 @12:24PM (#17163146) Homepage
    I have no problems. Plenty of spam and the good stuff comes through for me and my wife.

    Believe it or not, they've been very good. The one issue I've had they resolved quickly once I was escalated above first-level tech support.

    Maybe it's a location-specific issue?

    I can qualify another post that talked about the new email sender verification thing. I get it sending mail from the web email interface. But none of my friends or the emails I send myself from work require sender verification.

    I don't know what the motivation behind these complaints may be. It certainly isn't bothering me or my wife. Maybe it will..

    (shrugs)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by N7DR (536428)
      Ditto and likewise. No problem here at all, and I would definitely notice it (and have noticed it in the past, within less than an hour of a problem occurring). So maybe Earthlink is losing a ton of e-mail on some accounts, but it seems to be working fine for others. I really can't believe that the problem can be widespread. People may be sheep, but surely if Earthlink were losing any noticeable fraction of most people's e-mail, they would have suffered a mass defection.
  • They broke DNS, now they're screwing up email. Are they even allowed to call themselves an "internet service provider" any more? It seems that, whatever they're providing, it ain't internet access.

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