Hardcore methods for e-mail blocking
April 25, 2012 6:19 PM   Subscribe

Looking for elite e-mail blacklist tricks to block a stalker.

I have a determined and intelligent stalker. This person blasts my domain with harassing messages. I have tried the official methods for e-mail blocking, but found them unsatisfying. Typically, as on GMail, you filter addresses into the Trash. But then they sit there for days, and I don't want that, because I check my Trash for other messages.

I have also tried the "fake bounce" method, which just caused this person to send taunting messages for months along the lines of "Since you've blocked my e-mail, I can write anything I want! haha."

What I dream of is a hardcore solution. Maybe something at the server level. Something that will kill these messages before they even reach my inbox. Routing them through some UNIX/procmail thing somehow !? I will learn how to build a new mail server if that is what it takes.

I'm on Dreamhost using Google Apps on my business domain. But am willing to try anything if it will provide blacklisting. It looks like Google Apps for Business stopped including this, when it stopped offering the mail package Postini.

Is there some blacklisting server I could route the e-mail through? Some PINE thing like in college, where I can run a script that deletes spam, before it reaches me? Or does one of the major Web mail services just do this?

The closest thing I have found to what I want is a vestigial Bounce feature in Apple Mail, but relying on that forces me to retreat from GMail (and therefore GChat). God, what I would not give to insert a nice "Delivery Status Notification (Failure)" somewhere in the pipeline, preventing me from ever knowing about it.

If someone knows of a server, somewhere in the world, that will let me do this, I would thrill with gratitude.

(I have read that bouncing is considered bad practice for dealing with spam, but this isn't spam. I can't switch e-mail addresses, either, for business reasons. And while previous threads have recommended calling the cops, the local police have told me they can't get involved unless there is a "specific threat of bodily harm," and this person has dodged a restraining order multiple times.)
posted by steinsaltz to Technology (16 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Is this person using a single email address to harass you, or do they rotate?
posted by aaronbeekay at 6:29 PM on April 25, 2012

In the past they have rotated, and may again. But for now if I can just block the one, I think that will be OK. They're on a DSL service that assigns a new IP every time, I think, so I can't block by IP.
posted by steinsaltz at 6:32 PM on April 25, 2012

Is there a reason you're checking trash for other messages? If you have other filters that are deleting messages you might need, I'd suggest making them direct into another folder instead - "Probably trash" - and then really, truly, filtering this person's email directly into trash. I do something similar myself, filtering specific email away before I ever see it, and it works nicely with my various other filters.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:56 PM on April 25, 2012

Not directly addressing the blacklisting function, but you can run your gchat or any jabber account through iChat, and gmail through Apple Mail.
posted by Cold Lurkey at 6:59 PM on April 25, 2012

Typically, as on GMail, you filter addresses into the Trash. But then they sit there for days, and I don't want that, because I check my Trash for other messages

Why not simply filter them into an "arsehole" folder? Mark them as read while you're at it. If that's the only filter rule you have that puts things in there, then the only messages that end up there will be the ones from your stalker. You will know that you never have to look in there for any legitimate mails, plus you will have a record of all this idiot's harassing mail if he ever escalates to the point where the cops are willing to get involved.
posted by flabdablet at 6:59 PM on April 25, 2012 [7 favorites]

This can be done with Postfix by using the header_checks configuration option to REJECT any message claiming to be from a particular address. I'm assuming that it can be done with other Mail Transfer Agents as well.

Of course procmail can be configured to just send every message from a particular email address to /dev/null which means you'll never, ever have to see it. procmail can also be configured to automatically bounce messages that match a certain pattern.

If this is a serious situation though, I agree with flabdablet that you should probably be archiving these messages, just in case.
posted by RonButNotStupid at 7:01 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]

Rather than send them directly to trash, send them to a separate folder by rule and hide that folder. When you have checked your trash for other important messages, then delete the contents of folder set up for this bozo. Then empty trash.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:40 PM on April 25, 2012

Thanks, but I don't actually want to archive any of this stuff. I really just want to find a service that will let me send it to /dev/null or bounce it. :(
posted by steinsaltz at 8:35 PM on April 25, 2012

It looks like if you upgrade Google Apps to their Business class for $5 per user per month, that you get access to Postini for Google Apps which comes with inbound spam filtering and blacklist ability at the domain level - and it seems to all run through your normal Google Apps control panel.

Remember the Gavin de Becker rule of stalkers - give them zero indication that they are successfully communicating with you, and listen to your gut on whether you need to take more serious measures. Good luck with this headache!
posted by machinecraig at 9:12 PM on April 25, 2012

Ah - I should read slower, you mention that Postini is no longer offered via Google Apps for Business, but I find other evidence.
posted by machinecraig at 9:15 PM on April 25, 2012

Quick and dirty hack:

Forward all of your mail--except the stuff you don't want to see--to a new e-mail address. Only check the new e-mail. In GMail, you can configure it to send outgoing mail using the old address, too.
posted by LDL707 at 10:17 PM on April 25, 2012

Already tried this. Switching GMail addresses to a secondary one seemed like the answer but it messed up too many things. My mail then starts being archived in two different places, my Google Account is now splintered into various logins for other purposes, like YouTube, and for my Android phone.

What I am asking about is blocking stuff from being accepted at the domain level. Maybe one of the web hosting services has this....?
posted by steinsaltz at 3:00 AM on April 26, 2012

Have you checked Cpanel or whatever Dreamhost uses? Cpanel has account and user level mail filtering available. You should be able to filter it out at Dreamhost so that the offending emails never gets forwarded to Gmail.
posted by COD at 5:38 AM on April 26, 2012

Yeah, Dreamhost offers Mail Filtering for their IMAP/POP3 accounts but I couldn't get it to work. I filed a ticket asking about it.
posted by steinsaltz at 12:19 PM on April 26, 2012

Late to the party, but Fastmail just started offering silent dropping: Fastmail
posted by heliostatic at 8:12 PM on April 29, 2012

Hey, I signed up for Web Faction and their mail system includes built-in .procmail rules that you can set.
posted by steinsaltz at 2:18 PM on May 11, 2012

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