mailman list server?

Hi - I'm part of a "fan club" that had a server at the company offices for which the fan club was a fan, but we're separating now. I'm finding that hosting solutions are very unfriendly to legit, opt-in, mailing lists. We have lots and lots of lists (hundreds)…some of them with very few members and very low traffic, but some with a lot of members and high traffic. Plus, there are a couple lists that are for all, or a majority of, the membership - and while those lists generally only have a couple dozen posts a year, each email goes out to thousands of addresses when it does go out at all.

So, those services which provide listservers at $4/mo/list aren't a good fit due to having a couple hundred tiny lists - those would be extremely expensive to maintain, considering what they are. Google apps is also not an option, because even if we registered for a business account we'd still be limited to 2k emails per day per account - which means we wouldn't be able to send our club-wide emails.

So the question then is - is Linode friendly to clubs who have membership lists that are very active? In a world that is filled with spam and anti-spam, is Linode still a good fit for making a server that is sending and receiving lots of mail, none of it spam?

10 Replies

As long as the emails you're sending are solicited (which by nature the listservs are) then you shouldn't encounter any trouble from Linode.

You can install mailman on a linode (see here and if you set up SPF records, don't send spam and have luck on your side with other providers spam filters you'll be fine.

so there's no rate limiting? If the club director wants to send something to club-announce (a lists only a few people can post to, but that thousands get mail from), and then a few of the general membership lists suddenly spring up activity, we might have 10k+ emails per day for a few days - not hard to do, really, if a dozen people start conversing on a list with 500 people, that alone can make that many. But AWS, google apps, etc all rate limit the outbound.

The lists are all legit - it's a gaming club. Some of them are "IC" (in character) lists. most are "OOC" (out of character) lists. People discuss rules, games, etc on the OOC lists. People make IC posts on the IC lists. It's a lot of traffic, but all of it is real, legit traffic. Part of the reason there are hundreds of tiny lists is because most of those are very topic-focused, going to specific small OOC or IC audiences. It's oddly a very hard thing to find hosting for…which, at the moment, we're suddenly needing to do.

Amazon's SES sends emails and that's all it does, so they can control how many you send.

Google apps, also sends emails, so again they can control how many you send.

Linode gives you a server, you install the mail server and control it so you set the limits (or no limits).

Linode doesn't "know" you're sending e-mail, it's just network traffic as far the host is concerned.

The only time Linode would care about the e-mails you're sending would be if they got abuse reports from folks complaining about spam.

outbound traffic to port 25 is is very, very easy for any hosting provider to rate-limit, and moreso it is to their best interest to do the rate limiting because without the rate limiting, their whole IP blocks get blacklisted (which, even with the rate limiting, still happens a lot for AWS). It is very easy for any firewall to rate limit outbound SMTP; if a firewall doesn't do layer3, then…it isn't really a firewall. If it does layer 3, then it knows that something is outbound port 25 - ie, that it is an outbound email. Google Apps documents the limitations. SES isn't something that works with Mailman; without using mailman, an AWS instance is also limited pretty severely as to its outbound email. I know this first-hand, on both accounts. Unrelated to the club, I do managed hosting for a lot of companies, and I use a lot of providers.

I would have to assume that linode does some sort of rate limiting, otherwise they'd be too attractive to spammers as a haven, which would then get their IP block blacklisted - and then it would be worthless to legit groups who want to send out emails. Thus I'm just curious what that rate limiting would be, or if there's a way to apply for limit increases, etc.

No rate limiting, no firewall (except IRC ports in atlanta) - you are directly on the internet with your linode.

You cause trouble and they take it away from you - that's really the only limitation you will face.

Well, in the interest of full disclosure…

By default, there is an outbound rate limit of ~50 Mb/sec, mostly to prevent runaway/rogue systems from causing too much damage. At, say, 5 kilobytes per email, that is effectively a rate limit of 1250 emails per second. Also, with a transfer quota of 200 GB/month, you'll start to run into overage fees after ~40,000,000 of these 5 kilobyte hypothetical emails.

Similar mathematics would apply to 5 kilobyte objects via HTTP, 5 kilobyte Usenet articles, 5 kilobytes of pure, uncut Colombian coffee, etc.

Why not rate limit SMTP traffic? If a spam run were to generate abuse complaints at a rate of 0.001%, and were sending out at full speed, a spammer on a Linode should expect to last 40 seconds before an abuse ticket is opened. A spammer using Google Apps at 2,000 e-mails per day should expect to last 25 days. Rate limiting hides the problem; not rate limiting makes it show up very quickly.

(Note: The math in this speculation, or at least the assumptions, may be dubious. But the point probably isn't.)

This requires that be ruthlessly efficient and empowered to take action. A network's abuse response determines whether or not that network is a spam haven, which is largely what the reputable DNSBLs consider when deciding to list a network.

If doesn't know who you are, you're not a problem, so why treat you like one?


pure, uncut Colombian coffee

So I had to buy some cream of tartar for a recipe the other day. Needed a whopping 1/4 tsp, but there was only a big jar at the store, so I have enough for like 10 years. recipe worked out, gave it to my m-i-l today. Asked if she had any cream of tartar, she did, but figured it was 20 years old. So I gave her a bunch of mine. In a little baggie.

I recommended she not leave it out on the seat in case she gets pulled over.

The mailing lists aren't used (generally) to send attachments; it's just posts about when the next game is, what your character is doing, etc. The biggest emails tend to be just…text. The main problem is simply that we can quickly flood over the limits of most places, just by posting a single email to one of the announce-only lists with 4-6k people on them, or if a list with 200-400 people gets into a hot debate and generates a few dozen posts in cross-talk. 12 posts to 300 people is 3600 posts - and that isn't hard to do in a day, at all.

But yeah - the raw volume isn't really that much, since the overwhelming majority of it is just…text.


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