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Members Removed for Marking Messages as spam

There is one particular circumstance in which members might find themselves automatically removed from the membership of a Group. This note has been compiled in the hope of providing some clarification because as things stand it can be hard for any individual to work out what has happened.

FAQ

Why was I removed from my group?

Possibly because you, or your email service, designated a message from the group as "spam", and then your email service reported that fact to Groups.io, with the expectation that Groups.io will stop sending group messages to you. See also the Mechanism section, below.

How do I get back into my group?

If Groups.io removed you then it sent you notification of the fact. That notification has a link to automatically restore your group membership. Look in your Spam folder or Trash for that notice, the link expires three days after it was sent. See also the Notification section, below.

How can I stop this from happening again?

Don't mark group messages as spam, and routinely check your Spam folder for any group messages that may have been misdirected there. If you find any there promptly mark them as "not Spam". Do not delete them from the Spam folder, or allow them to be automatically deleted from there.

Also, if your email provider supports it, consider creating a filter that ensures that messages received from your Groups.io group(s) are never directed to your spam folder.

Why does this happen on Groups.io, but not on Yahoo Groups or other email lists?

Because Groups.io is not too big to block. [beta #16418] That is, email services may give the larger list providers some leeway because blocking messages from them would upset too many of the email service's users. Groups.io's participation in the spam control mechanisms offered by various email services is seen as a way of helping to establish a positive reputation for Groups.io with those email services and thereby help ensure that every Groups.io subscriber receives group messages reliably and in a timely fashion.

What is the position of Groups.io management on why this is being done?

There are statements about why this is being handled this way in [beta #10753] and [beta #11900].

Mechanism

Some Mailbox Providers (MPs), aka Email Services, will send a report back to the sending email service when a received message is determined to be “spam”. This is called a feedback loop (FBL) and is intended as an anti-spam mechanism[1]. Not all MPs implement this mechanism. Among those that do, there are ambiguities as to how some of them make that determination, and what those MPs expect the sending service to do as a result of receiving such a report. These ambiguities have resulted in confusion and inconvenience for Groups.io members and group administrators (group moderators and owners).

In the expected case, the determination originates with the MP's user (the group member, for our purposes), most likely by clicking a button to designate the message as "spam". MPs generally interpret that designation as an instruction not to deliver any more messages "like" that one to the user. MPs that implement a FBL then send an abuse report to Groups.io. In that case, removing the member from the group is justified on the basis that the member no longer wishes to receive the group's content.

In the troublesome case, the determination was made automatically by the MP's discriminator ("spam filter") and the message delivered to the member's "Spam" or "Junk" folder instead of to his/her Inbox. If the member does not discover the message there and designate it as "not spam" before the message is automatically purged from the Spam folder, then the MP may generate an abuse report just as if the member had specifically designated the message as Spam.

The difficulty for Groups.io is that it is not told by he MP whether the abuse report was generated for the troublesome reason rather than for the expected reason. The difficulty for the group member is that if his/her MP implements the troublesome case the mechanism can operate entirely without his/her knowledge, up until the point where the member is removed from the group.

In either case, Groups.io attempts to minimize the inconvenience to the group member by sending a notice to him/her. The notice contains a link to automatically restore the member's subscription to the group.

Notification

Prior to 22 March 2018 the resulting emails sent by Groups.io to (a) the member, and (b) the Group Owner & Moderators were not entirely clear about what had happened and why, mainly because it was not made clear that it could have been the email service provider that had marked the email as spam. This marking is sent back to Groups.io by the ESP (Email Service Provider), and in turn Groups.io is more or less compelled to react to this by cancelling the individual’s membership of a Group. Not all ESPs send “marked as spam” information back to the message’s originator.

The member was confronted by an email that rather suggested that they were responsible for what had happened, and if they wished to restore their membership to click a link provided for the purpose, but given that the member had no knowledge of the message email that had been marked as spam and thus diverted to the their spam box by their ESP some reluctance to use that link was understandable. Similarly the Group Owner / Moderators were simply informed that the member had marked the message as spam, and as a result could be equally bewildered about what had really happened.

 

The Notification Messages were amended on 22 March 2018