[Lingtyp] Lingtyp mails classified as spams?

Daniel Ross djross3 at gmail.com
Sun Dec 11 21:10:14 UTC 2022

Dear Ian and everyone,

Thank you Juergen for your helpful recommendation. That's what I would have
suggested. Another option, if needed, is to subscribe from another email
address (i.e. non-institutional address) if that helps you. If we do not
recognize your email address (especially for non-institutional addresses)
we will ask why you want to join the list. That is to prevent spammers from
joining, not because we don't want you to subscribe!

As I think we're all seeing, the amount of email spam, especially spoofing
the email addresses of known individuals or organizations, is expanding
rapidly and while some of that goes on behind the scenes so we don't see it
because of the technology we have protecting our email accounts, there's
still some that gets through and more importantly it's becoming much harder
to tell the difference between legitimate emails and spam meant to look
like legitimate emails. My impression is that spam filters are becoming
more cautious and therefore flagging more legitimate messages as possible
spam, so a lot of that ends up in our spam folders rather than our inboxes.

For the LingTyp list, we are very careful about who can send messages to
the list (we verify each subscriber individually), and this means that we
can avoid spam being sent out on the list. For that reason, it should be
reasonably safe to set up a filter that never marks any LingTyp emails as
spam, although of course you should still be cautious about clicking links
and the content in messages especially if something seems off, because as I
said there are so many spam messages these days that are meant to look like
legitimate emails. A spammer could in principle include information that
makes it look like a message is sent from LingTyp (the email subject line
for example), although it would not actually be sent to members through the
listserv. (There's actually a lot of spam submitted to the list, but
through the settings and manually filtering as needed, we're able to stop
it from being sent out. Apparently there's a big market for office chairs
these days, among other things!)

If in doubt, you can always check the archives online:
https://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/ -- those are updated
in real time, so you can follow messages sent to the list there if you
don't have access to your email or if you want to verify you are currently
receiving messages. This is also a way to verify that if you submitted a
message to the list it was actually posted and set out to everyone. (It
might take a few minutes to update on the website, just like how sometimes
it takes a few minutes for an email to actually appear in your inbox after
it was sent.)

*However, there is something all of you can do to help with this:* we don't
have many options to prevent LingTyp emails from being marked as spam, and
part of it is that organizations and email servers are generally cautious
about any non-personal messages sent out to a list, which includes
Lingtyp. *But
what you can each do is carefully mark individual LingTyp messages in your
spam folders as "not spam".* That should eventually train the algorithms
for at least your personal email account to not classify those messages as
spam, but given the large readership of this list if everyone works
together on it, *we may be able to crowdsource a reclassification in
general.* Personally I receive a handful of messages each month as spam and
I go through each one to make sure they're marked as "not spam", to
encourage the Gmail spam filters to do better the next time. This rate is
about the same for several other Linguistics email lists I'm subscribed to.
(As an administrator of the list, I might have a different experience that
some of you, including receiving various additional filtered spam messages
and updates from the server to check. If you are having a different
experience, please contact me to let me know what's going on. Ian, your
experience in particular sounds extreme, so please send me an email
directly to let me know: (1) what percentage of emails are marked as spam,
(2) which email provider and client you are using, and any other
information you think might be helpful. I'm not sure how much I can do
about it-- Juergen's suggestion is best as a practical solution-- but the
information will be helpful just to know what's going on.)

I should also take this opportunity to mention some other technical details
about the list. I'll keep this relatively short, but please feel free to
contact me if you have questions or concerns. There have been some
technical issues going on over the past several months with the server,
which generally seem to work themselves out after a few days, but it can be
very confusing for individual subscribers when some of the automated
settings go wrong. One problem is that some members have been automatically
temporarily disabled or unsubscribed due to "bounces", i.e. the server
finding that some messages sent to those subscribers are not actually being
received by those subscribers. This is a widespread problem not related to
particular individuals or even particular organizations (although it does
seem to happen in waves, e.g. many or most emails at a particular
university being temporarily disabled, presumably because of some kind of
communication disruption between the LingTyp server and the organization's
email system; it has also happened to general email providers such as
Gmail, though). Usually this works itself out after a few days, and
unfortunately we don't have direct access to all of the lower level server
settings to work out what is going on. In fact, it's been very confusing to
try to troubleshoot this because a lot of the information seems to be
inconsistent, and it is hard to identify patterns. I'm trying to keep an
eye on this and figure out what the underlying causes are, but as I said
for the most part it seems to work itself out when the server resets
something a few days later. One thing everyone should know is that if you
are having any problems with your subscription to LingTyp, it isn't your
fault personally (nor an intentional attempt to remove you from the list)
and may just be a temporary glitch. If more than that, please contact me
because the more information I have to resolve these issues the better.
Additionally, remember that you can always follow along with the
conversations on the archives (linked above).

Finally, I recently received a report that there is a widely used spam
filtering service that has marked LingTyp as spam, and this means that some
organizations have actually blocked our messages from being received at
all, not even in the spam folder. If you are mysteriously not receiving any
messages (confirm this with the archives), or if any colleagues as you
about this since they may not see this message, then that could be the
reason. It is my understanding that the organizations do not have direct
control over which emails are blacklisted, because this is part of the
security service that they subscribe to. I'm still looking into the
technical reasons for this, but I understand that it is due to the IP
address from which they LingTyp emails are being sent, i.e. the Linguist
List server that hosts our email list, so again that is also not something
we control. There are limited options for resolving this, but I'm looking
into what we may be able to do, and also keeping an eye on whether this
will be a temporary or permanent problem. If your organization is
experiencing this, please let me know!

*Again, you can all help by manually marking any LingTyp messages in your
spam folders as "not spam", to retrain the algorithms*. Eventually, this
may have an impact on the classifications of messages to the list in
general. Similarly, *please do NOT mark as "spam" any messages you just
aren't interested in on the list*. In that case, you can simply delete
them, or if you have decided you're not interested in any messages on the
list you can unsubscribe. We will never send you messages you don't want if
you've unsubscribed, so there's no need to use spam filtering for this
list. That will also preserve the quality of the list for those who are
subscribed. The algorithms behind spam filtering are opaque but as with all
similar technologies it boils down to training data that classifies emails
as "spam" or "not spam" and the algorithms work from there to identify
similar patterns in other messages to guess what is spam. And one pattern
might be whether something is sent from an email list (either ours
specifically or in general). Most spam filtering algorithms work roughly
with something like "points" assigned for various properties of the message
(or at least traditionally did, while newer AI algorithms might not have
easily identifiable parts in that sense, but overall function similarly),
so messages with enough "points" would be considered spam, past a certain

This may be more information than most members probably wanted at this
time, but I hope it's helpful, and I also would like to hear from you about
your individual experiences, especially if they don't match up with what I
wrote above, or if you have any questions.

Finally, I'm sorry for any disruptions you may have experienced. Right at
the moment with the ALT meeting in Austin coming up I don't want to disrupt
the list further by changing any significant settings, but after that I
will continue looking into this and what our options may be for bigger
changes if needed.

As a backup, you can always access the archives to read messages (
https://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/) and if you are
subscribed (even if you are not receiving messages) you should be able to
send a message to the list. (If you are unable to send a message to the
list-- check the archives to see if it was posted-- you can let me know
directly, and I can either confirm/reset your subscription or just forward
your message to the list myself.)

I think that covers the main points, but please contact me if you have any
additional questions.

Daniel Ross
ALT webmaster
(& LingTyp list administrator)

On Sun, Dec 11, 2022 at 9:44 AM Juergen Bohnemeyer <jb77 at buffalo.edu> wrote:

> Dear all – I imagine everybody is already aware of this, since I’m, like,
> the least tech-savvy linguist I know. But just in case, here it is:
> Many mail clients seem to have spam filters with defaults that categorize
> anything that comes from a listserv as junk. This appears to be the case
> with both Apple Mail and Outlook, for example (or maybe it’s a default of
> the U at Buffalo mail server).
> If this is happening to you, there should be a setting somewhere where you
> can invoke a safe domain exception. So for example, I entered “
> linguistlist.org” in my safe domains list, and that has taken care of
> LingTyp messages going to spam/junk.
> (Ridiculously, I actually also had to enter “buffalo.edu” as a safe
> domain. My own messages to UB listservs were getting junk-labeled 😡)
> (Incidentally, it took me a while to figure out that I could only make
> these setting changes online, not in the local app on my computer. That too
> might be a local quirk of the UB system, but one which is very likely
> replicated elsewhere.)
> Best -- Juergen
> Juergen Bohnemeyer (He/Him)
> Professor, Department of Linguistics
> University at Buffalo
> Office: 642 Baldy Hall, UB North Campus
> Mailing address: 609 Baldy Hall, Buffalo, NY 14260
> Phone: (716) 645 0127
> Fax: (716) 645 3825
> Email: jb77 at buffalo.edu
> Web: http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~jb77/
> Office hours Tu/Th 3:30-4:30pm in 642 Baldy or via Zoom (Meeting ID 585
> 520 2411; Passcode Hoorheh)
> There’s A Crack In Everything - That’s How The Light Gets In
> (Leonard Cohen)
> --
> *From: *Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of
> Arnold Zwicky <arnold.zwicky at gmail.com>
> *Date: *Sunday, December 11, 2022 at 12:01 PM
> *To: *Ian Joo <I.Joo at tilburguniversity.edu>
> *Cc: *Linguistic Typology <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
> *Subject: *Re: [Lingtyp] Lingtyp mails classified as spams?
> > On Dec 10, 2022, at 9:41 PM, Ian Joo <I.Joo at tilburguniversity.edu>
> wrote:
> >
> > Dear all,
> >
> > is it just me or are the lingtyp mails keep on getting classified as
> spams?
> > I’m trying to change the settings of my e-mail to not detect them as
> spams but the mails inevitably end up in spam folder.
> > Is it just my problem or is anyone else having the same issue?
> This has been happening to me on both of the e-mail servers I use (
> gmail.com and stanford.edu). Originally, about a quarter of the mail to
> Lingtyp (I *think* just the mailings of calls for papers, open positions,
> conference programs, and the like) were shunted to my junk mailbox. I then
> had to move them to my inbox -- training the bot not to junk them in the
> first place -- and then delete them there after I'd read them. Things have
> gradually improved, but some Lingtyp mailings still get sent there. I don't
> know know what the bots are detecting, but the behavior is very annoying.
> Arnold
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> https://nam12.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Flistserv.linguistlist.org%2Fcgi-bin%2Fmailman%2Flistinfo%2Flingtyp&data=05%7C01%7Cjb77%40buffalo.edu%7C6abe1eb9cc3c43b3baa008dadb996511%7C96464a8af8ed40b199e25f6b50a20250%7C0%7C0%7C638063749139518263%7CUnknown%7CTWFpbGZsb3d8eyJWIjoiMC4wLjAwMDAiLCJQIjoiV2luMzIiLCJBTiI6Ik1haWwiLCJXVCI6Mn0%3D%7C3000%7C%7C%7C&sdata=lZPH4jrbiwOswK6i%2FHTAxVel5O0GoJ8Z7fCTUa8%2FW3c%3D&reserved=0
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> https://listserv.linguistlist.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20221211/1dddf63e/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list