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America Online Spam

AOL Will Not Support Sender-ID 269

DominoTree writes "America Online said Thursday that it will not support the Microsoft-backed antispam technology called Sender-ID. The online giant cited 'lackluster' industry support and compatibility issues with the anti-spam technology SPF that AOL supports."
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AOL Will Not Support Sender-ID

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  • as a sys admin (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Exter-C ( 310390 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:03AM (#10274093) Homepage
    As a sys admin for a large hosting provider aols anti spam policy has been great at reducing the amount of crap email being sent through thier servers. Over the years its dropped a massive amount so anything that AOL does to fight spam is a bonus to the world as they are such a large part of the "internet".

    Unfortunatly there are thousands of ISPs that dont take SPAM as seriously as what AOL does. Realistically this is something that doesnt come as a suprise to many people that have been following the anti-spam developments closly. You cant blame AOL for having a service that is computer illiterate friendly despite your own experiences.

    Everyone has the freedom to choose thier provider. Personally Im never going to use them.. but hey the option is there if you ever do want it. and if you do sign up you can live with less spam ;)
  • by over_exposed ( 623791 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:08AM (#10274119) Homepage
    There is always a better way to solve problems like this, but do you really think MS is going to back down? It'll get implemented just like every other bad idea they've ever had (ie. WinME) and then no one will like it or everyone will complain or (more likely) no one will use it and whatever userbase it does have gets nailed with security holes etc.

    It's all about the all mighty buck. If they think this concept will make them more money than it cost to research and implement, you can bet your arse they'll implement it. They really don't care about interoperability either. They could care less if no one outside of the and domains can use it (or care to). That's one helluva userbase right there. Plus, they can just spout it off as another "Security" or "anti-spam" feature to get people to pay for hotmail premium accounts.
  • SPF issues (Score:3, Insightful)

    by markv242 ( 622209 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:09AM (#10274125)
    Okay, so setting up SPF records aside, have you actually modified their mail servers to do anything with incoming SPF data? As someone who hosts a few domains on a box, I'm very very hesitant to modify Mimedefang to drop messages that fail SPF, because a few people have .forward files on other boxes that point at me. Has anyone solved the .forward problem with SPF yet?
  • by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:10AM (#10274131) Homepage
    Without consequences? Microsoft has shown time and time again that they are not above intentionally crippling or outright breaking third party apps in running under their OS simply because they don't like the company or are competing with them.

    This isn't tin foil hat stuff, this is computer industry history (Lotus, DR DOS, etc) I'm sure AOL knows it. They will never piss off MS too much.

  • by Ayanami Rei ( 621112 ) <rayanami@gmail.cCHICAGOom minus city> on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:17AM (#10274158) Journal
    Publishing SPF records does exactly what AOL needs. Specifically it reduces the number of joe-jobs directed at its clients. As more mail servers are set up to check these records, the better it gets for them.

    What does implementing Microsoft's Caller-ID have to offer in addition to AOL's subscribers?
  • I may hate AOL... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Conspiracy_Of_Doves ( 236787 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:22AM (#10274181)
    I may hate AOL, but I have to admit that if they aren't going to support it, then Sender-ID is dead.
  • by aaron240 ( 618080 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:23AM (#10274184) Homepage
    When will Microsoft just say, "Oh look, honest interoperability is easier than wrestling for control all the time"? Could that happen? It just makes sooo much sense.
  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:24AM (#10274188)
    Speaking of which, I don't get it. AOL owns Netscape, what possible reason could they have not to use their own product and use a competitor's instead?! It makes absolutely no sense!

    Also, what does AOL for Mac OS use?
  • by MMaestro ( 585010 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:29AM (#10274209)
    The online giant cited 'lackluster' industry support and compatibility issues with the anti-spam technology SPF that AOL supports."

    In this case I'd say the decision was made from the business perspective. AOL could either fall in line and attempt to break away and make billions off their own patent if it succeeds. This so-called 'lackluster' support is probably nothing more than excuse from AOL to prop up their own versions.

  • by Atrax ( 249401 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:29AM (#10274211) Homepage Journal
    > Speaking of which, I don't get it. AOL owns Netscape, what possible reason could they have not to use their own product and use a competitor's instead?! It makes absolutely no sense!

    If they use IE, they get an icon on every OEM windows install. that's a LOT of new customers.
  • by Exter-C ( 310390 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:34AM (#10274236) Homepage
    In the end no single solution will work unless the vast majority of servers implement and maintain the solution. There is no use if only AOL or MSN implement a solution for spam. they "may" be 40million users or so but i know personally I dont email anyone or because im a geek and I have geek friends with thier own servers. There needs to be a mass adoption of a good standard to make any difference to the spam problem.
  • by Alien Being ( 18488 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @12:41AM (#10274255)
    "but do you really think MS is going to back down?"

    They thought they could ignore the Internet and TCP/IP, but eventually they realized that some things are even bigger than they are.
  • by maxdamage ( 615250 ) * on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:09AM (#10274341) Journal
    Iv never understood the general anti-aol viewpoint of the slashdot community. Think about it, aol allows computer dumb people to use computers. When computer dumb people use the computers two things happen. They break the computers (which gives you a way to get some extra cash) and they eventualy get better at computers, which makes new slashdoters. Im not ashamed to admit that I at one point I used aol, thankfully those times are over...
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:12AM (#10274347) Homepage
    Well for better or for worse, if AOL rejects it, that's pretty-much it in my opinion. AOL is probably the most well-known email service on the planet. I wouldn't know who is the biggest or best, but AOL has GOT to be the most famous. Microsoft would have done well to court AOL first... oh well. :)
  • by berzerke ( 319205 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:14AM (#10274355) Homepage

    ...AOL owns Netscape, what possible reason could they have not to use their own product and use a competitor's instead?!...

    Perhaps the $750 million payoff [] had something to do with it.

  • by maxdamage ( 615250 ) * on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:17AM (#10274365) Journal
    Should have finished my sudorant in the first post... Where is all the antiaolism coming from? I mean AOL is an ISP, nothing more. The big difference is it actualy gives its subscribers more bang for its buck. It allows all those computer dumb people a way to easly get what they want done in a computer dumb way. Is it the same thing as the whole mac bashing phenominon? They do their best to give computer dumb people a way to use computers, comon. Im hoping its not that. Is it the whole aol chat room stigma of bad grammer and very poor spelling because much of the discussion on slashdot is no better (well, at least some of it :D) ... well... im done for now...
  • by cbreaker ( 561297 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:22AM (#10274374) Journal
    I've never been a Mac fan, and I'll probably never buy one, but since it's a completely different non-windows OS, and runs different core software like browsers - it's good for the whole.

    The more people that use Macs, the more people that will be browsing web sites without IE, and the more websites that won't rely on IE-only functionality.

    Truthfully though, it hasn't been a problem running Mozilla for 98% of the sites I visit. And I don't only visit sites like Slashdot - I go to a lot of sites that the masses visit as well. No browser string faking, no activeX plug-ins. Just straight Mozilla, and it works great.

    All we need to do is chisel down those last 2% and we'll be living large.

    With all the visible security problems in Windows and IE these days - more and more people are getting sick and tired of it. Some people are seeking alternative Browsers, more every day. It's not the obscure security bugs that people care about or even know about it's the ones that allow spyware to be installed causing them to have to call friends, family, support people and generally have a terrible time using their computers.

    So.. GO MACS! And.. GO IE BUGS!
  • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LoadWB ( 592248 ) * on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:31AM (#10274394) Journal
    Any time I get a C/R when replying to an email which solicited me in the first place, be it support or otherwise, I immediately delete the email and consider the case closed.

    It comes down to knowing the system which you are using. If someone uses a C/R anti-spam system and cannot even be bother to use it correctly, then that person gets nothing in return. I am not spending my time chasing these people down. If and when said person calls, I just explain that I was not able to respond, and he or she needs to contact the ISP to determine the problem.

    You cannot always blame these people, either. There are a number of cases where people refuse to become informed -- they just think it should work with no expendature of effort. But in many cases it is the fault of the ISP which provides whiz-bang services and not a drop of intelligent support, information, guidance, or some combination thereof.

    I have read many times over that C/R systems are broken, brain-dead, and a Band-Aid approach to the problem. The more I encounter these systems and the people using them, the more I agree.
  • by tftp ( 111690 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:48AM (#10274436) Homepage
    where are the flaws in this reasoning?

    You can't talk like this to your business partners (who pay you). When you fight for contracts and sales you can't just tell the customer "contact me only my way, or go away", because the customer will go away.

  • Re:The Problem? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tftp ( 111690 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @01:53AM (#10274462) Homepage
    Do you honestly believe thay'd start charging royalties on every email sent or something crazy like that? Get real.

    I'm afraid it's someone else who must get real. MS, as any other company, is required to extract as much profit as possible from any and all assets it owns, or else shareholders will file a lawsuit. This happens.

    Besides, why MS would not do that? They can do it in a smart way - provide Windows users with a free license, and everyone else has to pay $1000 per license. Where will Linux or BSD be there? Who will be using these OSes for mail transfer? Hardly anyone, that's who.

    You must look beyond your nose to see the danger, and it must be said "no" while it is still possible.

  • Re:Good (Score:2, Insightful)

    by miley ( 782806 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @02:08AM (#10274505)
    How is it MUCH easier to implement? The sender's DNS record is the same. On the receiving end, the difference between the to is parsing headers to find the 'responsible domain.' The hard part of the implementation is writing all that crazy macro language parsing.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 17, 2004 @02:41AM (#10274610)
    I think it stems from about 10 years ago when AOL first made the Internet available to their N million subscribers. AOL just "opened the door" and let them all out to play with zero training - most didn't even realize they weren't on AOL's servers.

    The result was that literally overnight there appeared thousands of clueless n00bs with addresses.

    It made quite an impression at the time, and you're still seeing the fallout today.
  • by mcrbids ( 148650 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @03:30AM (#10274756) Journal
    dump email all together [sic] ....
    where are the flaws in this reasoning?

    1) You aren't a businessman. Don't pretend you are, and certainly don't pretend you know how things should be when running one.

    2) Businesses are there to make money. Thus, the cardinal rule of business is... don't say "no" to money. In any form. If you turn away customers by not being available for them, you are, in effect, saying "no" to money.

    Show me that it won't result in having to say "Sorry mr. corporate contact..." and you might have something. Otherwise, that noise is just your butt cheeks flapping together pointlessly.
  • A Flaw in SPF? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by s7uar7 ( 746699 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @04:51AM (#10274965) Homepage
    I've just been using the SPF setup wizard [] to generate the SPF TXT addition, and it occured to me that this isn't necessarily going to stop Joe Jobs on small companies.

    My domain and mail is handled by my host, with one mail server sending mail for multiple domains (mine and other people who have an account with the host). The reverse DNS lookup for the mail server give the server's name ( and not my domain's ( as it's shared, so mail from only has to come from to be vailidated. It would therefore be trivial for someone to set up an account with my web host, and they would then be able to Joe Job me.

    I know it's only cheapo hosting, but the small one man bands who are vulnerable to Joe Jobbing may be using this exact setup. And yes, it would cost you money to set up the account, but if you were setting out to deliberately harm a competitor it's negligible. Or have I misunderstood something somewhere?
  • Re:A little OT... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ( 551216 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @05:00AM (#10274981) Homepage
    * SPF is useless for several entire classes of people. That would be anyone who sends direct-to-mx email from random IPs. Those people will have to change. Sorry, sucks to be you. The percentage of people in this class is very near zero.
    I have to send e-mail with my locally installed postfix or with an authenticating third party mail-server when I am on the go, because my employer doesn't offer SMTP services to the outside world. SPF would mean that I'd have to VPN into the lab everytime I want to send an e-mail. It indeed sucks to be me. But I doubt I'm one of only a few.
  • Re:as a sys admin (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ciderpunk ( 611927 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @05:01AM (#10274985) Homepage
    I'm a sys admin too,

    Some time ago they blocked our IP, ostensibly for sending spam. I contacted them, and eventually managed to persuade them to unblock it, as we weren't evil spammers, but a student campaigning organization.

    So they insisted on having an address to send service complaints to, which is cool, we don't want to piss people off with spam. I gave them postmaster@ .

    Then I start getting through the occasional service complaint ( Unfortunately these babies:

    a. Don't tell you what the complaint is
    b. Don't tell you who made the complaint

    Their tech support tell me that they can't tell me who is complaining or about what because of privacy issues, which is probably not the best way to get it resolved.

    So now I'm left with around 5-10 unspecified complaints of unspecified users from AOL a week, which I dutifully keep in a folder marked ???
  • by 16K Ram Pack ( 690082 ) <> on Friday September 17, 2004 @05:57AM (#10275095) Homepage
    It's sometimes not just about "affording", it can be about channelling energy that could be better channelled elsewhere.

    A friend of mine worked for a food production company and they reached a point where they worked out they were not making enough company for a retailer. They were making a profit, but really, not much of a profit for the hassle required.

    A lot of companies just seek volume - trade with anyone and everyone you can. Sometimes, some customers aren't worth having. The deal with these people - raise your prices and see if they stay - that's a no-lose situation.

  • Re:Schizophrenia (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SenseiLeNoir ( 699164 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @06:05AM (#10275109)
    I do not Understand some of the AOL Bashing that goes on here.

    AOL develops an "Internet Expereince" for computer Newbies, their service is not for experts, and thats it. They DO dumb down their internet, for reason, because thats exactly what their costomers demand.

    The ISP market has a lot of choice, unlike the OS market, and AOL caters for a particular type of market. They are not trying to cater for all users (though their Netscpae Online ISP may be an exception). Those AOL customers whinging that AOL doesnt allow this, AOL doesnt allow that, well thats because what is beign requested is not regarded as important to the average AOL user. The Average usere donesnt know what an SMTP server, iand they do not care about finding out. They just want to send email.

    Those moaning about AOL, are free to switch. The majority CHOSE AOL, and are free to switch. Those non-AOL users who are moaning about AOL, again, whats it to do with you? you dont use their services, so why moan?

    Secondly, that doesnt mean that AOL is titally unfriendly towards techs, though they do that using other "labels". FOr example, they did sponsor Mozilla, and paid the developers to do a great job in creating our browser, and dont say they got a payoff from Microsoft, because if you look at the figures, AOL still made a monatary loss on the whole Netscape/Mozilla thing. However as a result, we have Mozilla.

    When dissolving Netscape, they gave full freedom to Mozilla, transfering copyright, etc. They COULD have been a bitch about it, but they didnt. You can compare their actions to almost like a parent who has a extremely talented child that "outgrew" the rules of the home. Instead of hiding the child, to destroying the child, it let the child go, with some money to help it make its own way.

    Also about Netscape, there are somepeople who do NOT trust Mozilla just yet (my parents). Yet they still trust Netscape. Still providing Netscape (another loss to them) is a good thing.

    ABout Nullsoft, whatever bad people talk about them, they still were instumental in turning WinAMP into a free (price) product. Ok its not Opensource, but at least we can create puligins and stuff easily, without sellign out to the devil, thanks to its fairly open standards.

    I do not recall them going after XMMS either, dispite some similarities between the two.

    AOL is not bad, its just different to what we expect, but its not bad, and i do think some of the bashing here is a little unfair. Save it for MS.
  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) * on Friday September 17, 2004 @07:47AM (#10275287)
    Actually there is a lot of Microsoft Technology the doesn't make it. There are 5 Different Faits for Microsoft technologies.
    1. Big Seller no matter what: This includes things like Windows, Office and its companions (like MS Project...) Basically Windows x and MS Office are the true money makers for Microsoft that actually gives them the true marketing edge over other companies
    2. Normal Selling Products: These are the Microsoft tools that sell well but are not the only major player and they have to compete directly with other players. Such products are like Microsoft's server tools and applications. While they are popular they are not the only big guy in the field. 20% Market share is actually very good but there are others out there that are just as big as you.
    3. Profetible slow selling products: These products are still making profit but are not getting the reception that wanted or expected. These are things like .NET
    4. Non Profitable but Microsoft forces to keep alive: Things like MSN. These are area that Microsoft knows it must grow at a large cost.
    5. Dismal Failures: These Products never got any form of acceptance in the world. Much like Microsoft Bob.

      1. Microsoft is a big player but most of it products are under rather fair competition with the other big players out there. IBM, Oracle, Unix, Linux, etc... Why do you think Microsoft takes Linux so seriously is because it is in direct competition with Windows market, and is rapidly importing on its main bread and butter. When Linux overtakes windows as a desktop OS, then Open Office will soon take place as the next office suit (Unless MS makes Office for linux in that time frame). And Microsoft will loose its major cash products and will need to resort to (Gasp!) Fair competition with other companies. The Microsoft name will no longer mean Dominance and just will be an other Novel.
  • by njdj ( 458173 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @08:10AM (#10275337)
    If they think this concept will make them more money than it cost to research and implement, you can bet your arse they'll implement it. They really don't care about interoperability either.

    I think they've shown they care about interoperability very much: they don't like it, and will do whatever they can to disrupt it. That's shown by, for example, the changes they've made to filesharing to make life difficult for the Samba people; the fact that they not only don't document file formats for key applications, but change them slightly with every new application version; and now Sender-ID, where (apparently by order from BG personally) they insisted on licensing terms calculated to be incompatible with some of the most important free software licenses, including the GPL.

    I think you're wrong about the Microsoft decision process - "If...this concept will make them more money...". Sender-ID would not make them any money; I very much doubt that anyone is going to migrate from Linux to Windows just to get the supposed benefits of Sender-ID! That's not what its for. Breaking interoperability is a corporate goal for Microsoft, because interoperability allows competitors to survive.

  • Re:What? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by virtual_mps ( 62997 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @10:43AM (#10276406)
    I've got to disagree with you on the whole C/R thing.

    Probably since I employ it (ASK, behind some bayesian filters (ASSP, Considering that my domain receives thousands of UCE/UBE each day, I have no choice but to take militant actions.

    You can do whatever you want with your mail, but I agree with the grandparent--you won't ever see a reply from me. (Or a lot of other people who deal with a lot of email and don't appreciate having their time wasted by people who want to push their own burdens on to others.)
  • Re:as a sys admin (Score:3, Insightful)

    by dmeranda ( 120061 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @11:49AM (#10277010) Homepage
    I have had a very favorable experience with AOL. We got blacklisted by them once (not because we were intentionally spamming, but that's when spammers first started taking advantage of "bounce" message hacking).

    Anyway after contacting AOL I was able to talk to a postmaster (a real human) on the phone, and he was very pleasant and we worked to resolve the problem within the day. And they also established the feedback loop for us, which actually is a pretty nice service. If for whatever reason spammers get smart again and learn how to hack around SMTP to make us look like spammers, AOL now gives us information and a warning that it is happening and we have a chance to correct it before getting blacklisted.

    Now, about SPF and the like, the nice thing about them is that they can allow us to prevent spammer abuse where spammers pretend to be us.
  • by prowley ( 587280 ) on Friday September 17, 2004 @05:07PM (#10280405)
    all things in Windows including the browser and the file navigator, they are all "windows" ... If AOL wants to integrate into Windows (which 99% or more of ALL AOL customers use) seamlessly, they HAVE to use IE.
    Um, and Netscape doesn't use "windows"? That really is the lamest 50,00 foot view of "windows" I've ever heard. You should probably spend a few more years coding "windows" to enhance your understanding before spouting off with fake authority on Slashdot, no wait, carry on...

God help those who do not help themselves. -- Wilson Mizner