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About spam and Dipleague archives on the internet

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Dipleague

The past 10 years wouldn't have been possible without you. Thank you!

DipleagueIt’s clear that Dipleague is one of the most useful classifieds services in Zimbabwe. We’ve covered Dipleague here before. It’s a basic mailing list; simple but very effective. The list generates close to 500 adverts a day!

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What we like most about Dipleague is that it’s the only classifieds platform that gives advertisers a very large audience and doesn’t charge for it. You don’t pay a cent to post an advert. And what’s more, Dipleague doesn’t have that many restrictions on the formatting of adverts posted to the list. The only restriction worth mentioning maybe is that posts need to be less than 100KB in size and this is just to make the service usable for everybody.

But here’s something we don’t like about Dipleague: the vulnerability of members (posting ones) to spam, phishing and all the evils that unscrupulous characters use on unsuspecting internet & email users.

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We’ve been communicating with the list’s moderators about this, and last week, after a lengthy back and forth, we somewhat managed to explain each other clearly. Today, Samir Shasha, ZOL founder and Dipleague main moderator, acknowledged the security issues and warned subscribers in a Dipleague email. We’re glad Dipleague has done this. We post the full email below.

We’d obviously have preferred taking out the email addresses completely and finding another way of routing replies to advertisers, but this is a start. If subscribers are fully aware, then they’ll probably find a way to protect themselves. One way would be subscribing with an email address that’s reserved for Dipleague.

Dear Dipleague Members:

As you know a benefit of advertising on dipleague, is that your advertising also appears on archives that can be accessed on the Internet by going to the following address:

http://dipleague.zol.co.zw/archive

This means you not only reach the 15,000 plus subscribers of dipleague – but anyone who accesses the dipleague archives on the internet at the above address.  The archives are updated in real time with your posts.

However, there is a real possibility (NOT probability) that the email address of someone who posts on dipleague could harvested and become a spam target.  This  was vividly brought to our attention by LSK Makani the Editor of Technology Zimbabwe(www.techzim.co.zw)

After lengthy discussions with Mr Makani, ZOL has decided to continue publishing posts on the the archive site and warn members who post about this possibility.  Please note that you can actually set your REPLY address to be different from your sending address.

Possible harvesting of email addresses from the archive is NOT a risk to the membership of dipleague – just to those who POST messages on dipleague.

It is clear that a motivated individual can easily overcome the obfuscation of email addresses of dipleague advertisers, however it is notclear that our archives have been accessed for this purpose.  Nor is it clear that such a risk would result in a substantially higher quantum of spam which most ISP’s and mail programs now successfully separate and quarantine.

We count over 15,000 current subscribers, but in that count we don’t include non subscribers who access dipleague posts on the Internet. This number may actually be a very real part of dipleague’s success which is why we decided not to remove email addresses of the the poster (including the obfuscation) from the archives.  However, it is my duty as a moderator to warn you of this possibilitydespite the obfuscation (the “@” sign in the email address of the advertiser has been converted to the word “at”).

Regards,

Samir Shasha

Dipleague Moderator

NB – Dipleague is your list – you can help make it a success by inviting responsible subscribers to join (simply send a blank email todipleague-join@dipleague.zol.co.zw and reply to the confirmation email) as well as reporting abuse on dipleague directly to myself.  So far the only people who make money from dipleague are our members – and I’m trying to keep it that way.  Shortly we will  reopen the list to free email address as read only – that will be done when we take off the one-time conversion facility to a free ZOL address fromany email address using the utility on http://dipleague.zol.co.zw.


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