πŸ“‘ After Self-Hosting My Email for Twenty-Three Years, I have Thrown In the Towel. The Oligopoloy has Won.

Bookmarked After Self-Hosting My Email for Twenty-Three Years, I have Thrown In the Towel. The Oligopoloy has Won. (cfenollosa.com)

Email is now an oligopoly, a service gatekept by a few big companies which does not follow the principles of net neutrality.

Carlos Fenollosa reflects on the demise of self-hosted email. One of the main reasons he argues for the failure is the crude blacklisting of large swaths of email, rather than a penalty process.

I’m not asking for a revolution. Please hear my simple proposal out:

  • Let’s keep antispam measures. Of course. Continue using filters and crowdsourced/AI signals to reinforce the outputs of those algorithms.
  • Change blacklisting protocols so they are not permanent and use an exponential cooldown penalty. After spam is detected from an IP, it should be banned for, say, ten minutes. Then, a day. A week. A month, and so on. This discourages spammers from reusing IPs after the ban is lifted and will allow the IP pool to be cleaned over time by legitimate owners.
  • Blacklists should not include whole IP blocks. I am not responsible for what my IP neighbor is doing with their server.
  • Stop blackholing. No need to bounce every email, which adds overhead, but please send a daily notification to postmaster alerting them.
  • There should be a recourse for legitimate servers. I’m not asking for a blank check. I don’t mind doing some paperwork or paying a fee to prove I’m legit. Spammers will not do that, and if they do, they will get blacklisted anyways after sending more spam.

These changes are very minor, they mostly keep the status quo, and have almost no cost. Except for the last item, all the others require no human overhead and can be implemented by just tweaking the current policies and algorithms.

Fenollosa argues that instead of worrying about interoperability between closed platforms, we should be protecting the open ones we already have.

This all reminds me of Quinn Norton’s post from a few years ago about how email is dangerous. However, for some like David Truss, email has simply failed us as a means of communication and technology.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *