Google Groups fails both anti-spam and basic mailing list management

November 20, 2011

Back in September I wrote about a spammer who was using Google Groups to send out their spam. Google Groups let them add one of my addresses to a very large list and then was perfectly happy to be used to broadcast their spam messages through the list. Well. Guess what. The spam is still happening; generally two messages a day, or at least two delivery attempts a day. This is what you could politely call a total failure on Google's part from two perspectives, because none of these delivery attempts have ever succeeded.

None. Zero. That's right; for months, my system has been rejecting at SMTP time every delivery attempt from this Google Groups mailing list. This is now far more than allowing a spammer to use their services to email me (and others); it is now clear that Google Groups fails basic mailing list management practices. One very fundamental basic practice of mailing lists is you stop mailing addresses that bounce, most especially if these addresses have never had any successful deliveries, ever, which is the case here.

Ignoring rejections and bounces is not a sign of good mailing list management software, given that automatic handling of bounces and automatic unsubscription of bouncing addresses has been a basic feature of mailing list software for somewhere around a decade or more. However, it is a red letter sign of spammer mailing list software.

I am not sure I believe that Google has consciously turned Google Groups into a tool for spammers; I would certainly like to think better of Google and it seems hardly worth Google's time, all things considered. But the alternative is to conclude that Google Groups is written and run by people who are incompetent (on one level or another), and that seems equally uncharacteristic of Google.

Written on 20 November 2011.
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Last modified: Sun Nov 20 01:09:51 2011
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