BLITZ: Blast Listserver Idiot Turkey Zombies

One of the great mysteries of the Internet is why it is that any drooling moron can instantly subscribe to every mailing list he hears word of, but can't seem to manage to unsubscribe without posting something to every user on the list, or personally involving the list manager, often soliciting this assistance with abusive and obscene E-mail.

Genuinely solving this problem will probably require an upgrade to the general intellectual calibre of Internet users, and it appears the trend is heading in the opposite direction. BLITZ merely reduces the workload on the poor overworked list manager by providing a cut-and-paste tool that allows blowing away these idiots without invoking a text editor on a series of mailing list files. BLITZ is intended to be used in conjunction with the Majordomo mailing list manager and, like Majordomo, is implemented in Perl. It assumes a Unix-like mail program, with the ability to receive input from a pipe; it's probably not worth the effort to try to get BLITZ running on a non-Unix system.

Note that users are actually unsubscribed by sending messages to majordomo (or whatever list manager user name is configured) rather than directly modifying the mailing list files. This automatically protects against race conditions since the list manager contains locks to prevent multiple simultaneous updates to its list files.

As an extra gimmick, entering a user name of "?" lists the number of subscribers to each of the lists being managed.

PROBELIST: Verify List Subscriber Addresses

Another continual irritant in the life of a list manager is bounced messages due to subscribers' abandoning E-mail accounts without first unsubscribing. In many cases BLITZ is all you need to purge such addresses, but with the advent of "permanent name" services which forward mail to an arbitrary address, the name on your list may have nothing to do with the name you see on a bounced message. Properly-configured mail transfer agents will furnish you adequate header information to track down the original destination, regardless of forwarding, but "properly-configured" is a term one learns to use parsimoniously in a universe which admits of the existence of Microsoft.

PROBELIST is a Perl script which sends an administrative message to all subscribers of a given list, informing them that they are listed as subscribers and providing instructions how to unsubscribe, should they wish to. The subtext to this is that PROBELIST creates a log directory which enables, for all but the most extremely incompetent mail delivery systems, tracking back bounces to the original subscriber address on your list responsible for them, even in that horror of horrors where somebody subscribes a list address at another site to your list.

PROBELIST is an epiphany of system administration wonkery--you're going to have to read the code and be competent in Perl and things mailwise to use it and interpret the output. But if you find yourself deleting the same enigmatic mail bounces again and again, you may find the intellectual investment worth making.

Download BLITZ

by John Walker