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I wonder how the experience would change if we could send emails to mastodon handles – basically a SMTP to Mastodon gateway resulting in direct messages. What if we could mention people using their email addresses and the server would automatically turn these into regular emails (to which people could reply).
And… with the right magic we can turn Guppe Groups into cheap mailing lists?

And if we have ActivityPub-enabled event servers, same thing: seamless integration with email!

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@kensanata

This is a nice idea, I like it!
I imagine that you could do it if the mastodon-instance act as a IMAP client, and connects to an IMAP-server where a catch-all address resides?

@selea well, you would still need SMTP in order to send emails (and you can already get email notifications so at least some of that already exists). So I wonder: can’t the existing SMTP implementation that comes with Fediverse servers handle email receiving? Sounds simpler in technical terms than handling all of IMAP.

@kensanata

Ah, you mean a built-in smtp-server in the instance? That would be really really nice too

(I really like email/smtp)

@selea it seems to me that the simplest implementation would be a SMTP server implementing very little and translating every incoming mail to an activity status or whatever they are called and queue it with all the other incoming Fediverse traffic – half the problem done. As for sending: you need to check if the remote server supports ActivityPub or SMTP and do the appropriate thing, preferring ActivityPub over SMTP. Maybe. πŸ˜…

@feld

Well, there is a "mailing-list" mode in discourse (a well known and used forum-software), and it is not really prone to spam via email.

One idea is that instances only accept emails from addresses that are registered on the instance and tied to an account?

@kensanata

@kensanata
I like the idea. My only concern would be opening a gateway to spam.

@fitheach how has the Fediverse defended against spam? I guess we would have to start blocking mail domains like Fediverse domains. Or require to β€œfriend” externals before allowing them to email us.

@kensanata
It would be an entirely different scale. Blacklisting wouldn't really work as there are billions of domains capable of sending email. My experience with email servers is that consistent spammers open new domains every week.

Some form of whitelisting would have to be considered or "friends" as you suggested.

@fitheach definitely the route the messengers went! Only pre-approved people can send you messages (or people can at least switch to that mode); I wonder why new Fediverse instances aren’t popping up every day, filled to the brim with spam? Is it still to expensive? When we finally have a truly light and easy to setup Fediverse server, will the spam apocalypse happen and we will all switch to whitelisting?

@kensanata @fitheach there are too many people looking out for obvious spammers and reporting them, and they get isolated quickly. AFAIK whitelisting exists in recent versions of Mastodon and possibly other software too; although its main intended use case is instances linked to high schools and Universities where there are safeguarding requirements for users <18 years old..

@vfrmedia @kensanata
If the spammers perceived that it was worthwhile attacking the Fediverse, blacklisting as the only tactic against spam wouldn't be feasible. Compare the situation with email.

How many users do we have on the Fediverse? Five million, maybe six million. If the Fediverse continues to grow, and gains more publicity, it will only be a matter of time before the spammers start to appear.

@fitheach @kensanata

there are already people compiling lists of "popular users" and trying to set up accounts (and occasionally instances) for spam/marketing purposes, but they often tend to be from countries that otherwise don't participate much in the Fediverse (often because the domestic governments aren't exactly the most "free") which makes these attempts stand out. I don't think its an insurmountable problem, but have always been sceptical about how "global" the Fediverse *really* is >

@fitheach @kensanata

I turned off all my language filters about 1,5 years ago, and do occasionally monitor the federated timelines, and its interesting to see which languages *aren't* present as well as which ones are (especially considering Mastodon is 100% Unicode clean these days so its possible to use it in any of the Worlds languages represented in the Unicode space..)

@vfrmedia
The Fediverse might be global, but I suspect some countries are represented more than others. Obviously, I'm looking at this from a mostly English language perspective.

In my 1Β½ years on the Fediverse I've had about a dozen spam type messages. However, I can remember the days when email was the same. Email didn't take too long to change.

@kensanata

@kensanata Hmm … re-reads RFC821 on the SOML command. You are familiar with the SMTP SEND, SOML and SAML commands, of course?

@edavies no I am not – I have minimal SMTP know-how, just enough to know I no longer want to self-host my email.

@kensanata That was mostly a joke. SEND, etc, are a widely unknown and long since dead bit of SMTP which are of very mild historical interest as probably the first attempt at a federated IM system, of sorts.

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