Subject: Re: Obfuscation
To: Bruce J. A. Nourish <>
From: Richard Rauch <>
List: netbsd-users
Date: 09/13/2003 01:36:22

I don't know if there's any danger that the list policies will change,
but I thought that I'd voice my opinion since the subject's been raised...

Imagine my surprise, Bruce, to discover that I am not a regular reader of
this list.  *I* didn't know that you had mangled your email address.
Of course, I rarely even pay attention to the addresses when I use them,
and I don't think that I've ever emailed you directly before.  (^&

My take on it is:

 * That the list can be harvested is fairly self-evident.  Most users on here
   are bright enough to construct "containment" email accounts if they so
   desire (as you have done).

   Since you don't have to be subscribed to the list, you could even just
   use a totally bogus email address that you never check (have it dump into
   /dev/null) and leave a hint in your .signature about how to really
   contact you.

 * "Obfuscation", if it really obscures the email address, hinders replies.
   (There have been quite a few people that I've wanted to write to
    in other contexts who have mangled their email address.  I usually take
    that as a sign that the person is anti-social and skip writing to them
    altogether.  I may be atypical, but at least in my case, such name-mangling
    is much closer to simply not publishing an email address.  Obviously, those
    cases where I didn't write were not cases of *needing* to contact the person.
    But, "need" is relative...)

   Unless it's an *emergency*, it doesn't have to be a very high threshhold
   before I feel that the person has put up their own walls and I just can't
   be bothered scaling the walls, especially if it's on behalf of the other
   person (e.g., someone asking for help *and* making it harder for me to
   respond).  Another example of this kind of thing is when people use
   quoted-printable on these lists, or attaching MIME64 copies of plain text
   files such as dmesg output.  Such messages are just unreadable from mail-index,
   so I've basically given up on them the last year or so.

 * If the "obfuscation" is sufficiently weak, then you're relying on
   the spammers to not bother with you.  To me, that's about the same
   strategy as the mailing list relying on spammers to not bother harvesting
   the list...

Administratively raising the level of obfuscation on the list would certainly
lower the number of off-list replies that I make.  And it wouldn't provide
YOU any better protection than if you simply have your From:/Reply-To: headers
dump to /dev/null for posting here.  I think that it's better to leave the
level of openness/obscurity up to the posters.

Just my 2.718281828459045 (and a bit) cents.

  "I probably don't know what I'm talking about."