[unisog] AOL and forwarding

Bob Johnson bob89 at eng.ufl.edu
Fri Oct 7 16:01:24 GMT 2005

On Friday 07 October 2005 10:42 am, Joseph Brennan wrote:
> We've had a few of these in recent months:
> We get the SComp reports, and almost all of the complaints are about
> mail from outside the university, forwarded by our users to their aol
> address.
> We reject some 50% of mail as spam or virus.  Some colleges do not reject
> spam at all, but just mark it, and if we did that we'd be sending AOL
> even more spam than we do.
> What are other colleges doing about AOL?
> Or do we forward much more mail to AOL than most places?  One reason we
> might is that we run an alumni forwarding service on the main mail
> system. Alumni get as much spam as anybody but it's not balanced by much
> mail from our own users, so their percent must be pretty high.

We (the University of Florida) finally prohibited students from forwarding 
their school-provided accounts to AOL, or to any other off-campus ISP.   I 
think we should have only prohibited forwarding to ISPs that had 
blacklisted us because of forwarded spam, and continued to allow forwarding 
to others, but they didn't ask me.

The problems were twofold: (1) students were not receiving official 
notifications sent to their campus mailbox because AOL was refusing to 
accept the forwarded mail, and (2) official campus communications to other 
AOL users (who didn't necessarily have campus addresses at all) were also 
blocked by AOL's blacklists.

I felt that we should only prohibit forwarding to ISPs that were causing 
problems.  If AOL (for example) wants to cut themselves off from thousands 
of their own customers, that's their decision.  Other ISPs' customers 
shouldn't be punished for something AOL is doing, but someone (who most 
likely has a law degree) decided that it should be an across-the-board 
prohibition of forwarding to off-campus addresses.  Of course, it is 
possible that the issue of how to notify students of changes to the list of 
prohibited ISPs may have been a factor in that decision, because it isn't 
entirely clear what the best way to do that is.

- Bob
  bob89 at eng.ufl.edu (to contact me)
  bobo1006 at mailtest2.eng.ufl.edu (to help me test anti-spam strategies)

More information about the unisog mailing list