The Downside of E-mail Filtering
ncreasingly, Internet Service Providers and Internet users are attempting to filter their mail servers in an effort to curb spam, unsolicited bulk e-mail. Sometimes the results are not what is intended. Last month a Library Commission staff member sent a message to a mailing list with the subject heading: Limited-Time Offer: Get a FREE OCLC Language Video Set! The message bounced for several recipients due to a spam filter that was installed on the recipients' mail system. The "Limited-Time Offer" phrase can trigger many filters. Another staff person posted a message with the subject heading: OCLC CONTENTdm Product Forum at ALA. Because it happened to include the character string "dm pro" which is the name of a software product (DirectMail Pro) that spammers use to broadcast messages, the message was rejected by some e-mail providers. A list of things to avoid is difficult to generate because the filtering software is so arbitrary. It seems that the filters are well-meaning, but extremely flawed in execution.
An article on "over-zealous spam cops," www.internetnews.com addresses another filtering problem. This Internet Advertising Report from internetnews.com, "When Spam Policing Gets Out of Control," dated May 23, 2002, highlights the issue of how filters can impact legitimate business communication. Blacklists, the controversial method of filtering out IP addresses of known spammers, have been around almost as long as spam itself. When a person or agency files a complaint against a server that hosts mass e-mail marketers, the blacklist will put the IP address of the server in its database, which is then downloaded by Internet service providers and carriers to filter out the "bad" IP addresses.
According to Jeff Mitcham, part-owner of APEC Solutions, the ends do not justify the means and the practice results in overkill. "It's equivalent to trying to kill mosquitoes using an elephant gun and not worrying whether you actually see the mosquito or not," he said.
Additional information on this topic will appear in the next edition of NCompass.
Grants Schedule Updated
The Nebraska Library Commission offers funding support according to the following schedule:
Accreditation Applications Distributed
The Library Commission will distribute applications for the Public Library Accreditation program in July to all public libraries scheduled to renew their accreditation, and to eligible unaccredited libraries. These applications are due at the Library Commission by September 1. Certificates of Accreditation will be mailed on October 1 to all libraries that meet the requirements. To be accredited, public libraries must meet the twenty Basic Guidelines for service, see nlc.nebraska.gov, meet the maintenance of effort requirement, and have submitted a Public Library Statistical Report FY 2000/2001. The Basic Guidelines define a minimum level of public library service for Nebraska citizens. Accredited libraries are eligible for direct state aid to public libraries and other grant programs through the Nebraska Library Commission.
The Advanced Guidelines offer a challenge for developing and improving library services beyond the basic level. Libraries must meet sixteen Advanced Guidelines to be awarded Advanced Guidelines status. For more information contact Kit Keller, Library Data Services Coordinator, 402-471-3216, 800-307-2665, e-mail: Kit Keller, or see the Commission home page, nlc.nebraska.gov, search on Public Library Accreditation.