AOL Feedback Loop … Love/Hate.

I just received an AOL SCOMP feedback loop email a few minutes ago. Well, actually I received several hundred of them, which happens all day long, but one in particular stands out:

To: abuseaddressATchuck’ (note, this address is not real)
Date: Tue, 20 Nov 2007 14:50:14 EST
Subject: Email Feedback Report for IP XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX
X-Loop: scomp

This is an email abuse report for an email message received from IP address XXX.XXX.XXX.XXX on Fri, 17 Nov 2006 10:50:38 -0500

Note the two timestamps. Today is Tuesday, November 20, 2007. The mail in question being reported as spam was sent …


I’ve grown accustomed to a certain amount of lag in AOL’s feedback loop, but I never would have expected it to grow to OVER A YEAR!

Mind you there is a lot to love about this system. Carl & his crew built a wonderful tool for netops to monitor-by-reflection what is going out of our networks… but the user-generated nature of it tends to rear its head in ugly ways. Mostly it serves us in locating the occasional web forms that are being exploited by spammers, which was the case in the above example. But the firehose of legitimate mail being tagged by AOL users as spam far outweighs the trickle of actual tinned-meat smelling stuff. Mailing lists, ecommerce confirmation emails, morons who forward *everything* (I eventually will hunt every one of them down and .. sigh), and honest-to-goodness personal correspondence makes up 99.999% of the feedback loop from AOL. It truly provides insight into the feeble mind of most AOL users.

We have setup a mail filtering system that files away all the vast majority of legit stuff based on sender, and it leaves the oddball stuff for human parsing. This one above ended up for me to parse, and I just had to say something about it in public.

So there, I have.