[e2e] was Re: A message to authors - nsdi

Michael Welzl michael.welzl at uibk.ac.at
Thu Jan 10 06:37:01 PST 2008


Silent loss of email is one of the real problems that the
Internet is facing today. Much more real, and much more
severe, than many of the other issues that people like
myself deal with on a daily basis.

I've been looking into the problem a bit - there's a neat
suggested solution from MS research called SureMail:
(hm, maybe it was *you* who once pointed me to it?! sorry
for sending it back to you in this case  :-)   ), and
I considered just adding a reliability loop between my
outgoing SMTP server and your POP server (because these
are the entities between which reliability is assumed - if
your *personal* spam folder delete's stuff, you usually
accept that it's your fault), where I would get my emails
marked in my "sent" folder when they reached your POP ...
this way I know that some definitely made it, and several
others *might* have made it to the other end - that would
already be helpful I guess

Turns out that there's a standard in place for doing that
SMTP-POP loop described above, but it isn't normally used,
no idea why ... I had to stop looking deeper at some point
because all the other work pulled the carpet from under
my feet, but I'm still quite interested in that

Bottom line: email is badly broken, and one of the most
heavily used Internet services, someone should truly
fix it (and while I think that the SureMal approaches
(actually multiple - the first and second papers
are quite different, one has a DHT and one doesn't) area
quite nice, they only partially solve the problem).


On Thu, 2008-01-10 at 14:18 +0000, Jon Crowcroft wrote:
> Michael, and others
> we had several problems with NSDI this year
> due to silent failure of email. Many of us
> have taken for granted that e-mail had become
> somewhat of a atomic building block for
> delivery of notifications of various things,
> but this is (alas) simply incorrect and things
> are getting worse - I hate to say this, but we
> may find ourselves pushing responsibility
> around in future (e.g. authors must poll a
> site to check on status, rather than (or as
> well as) expecting an event reporting phase
> changes such as submission received, 
> pdf checked, paper in review, accept/reject 
> notification etc 
> obviously one can leave in place the e-mail
> systems, but it is simply not working - some
> of the bayesian rule based filters do not even
> give consistent results over the same pair of
> sender/recipient, or over a sequence of
> messages with the same content...but (and of
> course for a spam filter, this is "correct"
> since teling a bad guy anything is deemed
> self-defeating)
> there's no SMTP error notification so end2end
> delivery is assumed to have occurred....
> users with white listing technologies should
> consider adding conference submission sites to
> the white list but it aint as simple as that
> of course...
> j.
> p.s. we were even stymied partly by our own
> mail system anti-spam measures which include
> rate-limiting automatic mail outbound from our
> site...
> argh!!!

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