Monday, January 28, 2008

I'm vandalizing Wikipedia again

The "Problems for Users" section of Mailinator on Wikipedia reads:

Domains from services like Mailinator are banned from many websites for the reasons stated above. Mailinator provides alternate domains which work around this ban in many cases.

Another problem for users is that mail sent to Mailinator often disappears for unknown reasons. Before using Mailinator a user should first send it some test e-mails to determine the system's reliability for themselves.

Mailinator strips many headers from incoming e-mail. This means that users wanting to verify the e-mail sender or server may be unable to do so. And according to their FAQ "Plain text is best, html is filtered. Images, attachments, and fancy stuff are simply stripped away." Unfortunately this often results in incomplete or garbled messages.

The "Domains from services like Mailinator..." paragraph is accurate. Some sites do ban it but so far no sites I know of have kept up with our alternate domains (see our home page) for a recent list. I'm still baffled why websites send-away customers but I guess that's their business. If I'm not sure I'm going to want or use some webservice, I test the waters with mailinator address. If they don't let me, I usually then just don't bother testing it. I'm sure other folks then resolve to give them their real address, or go waste 5 minutes signing up for a fake yahoo address, but for me its rarely worth it.

The next paragraph describes that emails "disappear for unknown reasons". Um, I thought I was pretty clear in the FAQ about how Mailinator handles email. Emails live for a few hours - not a day, not 1 hour - a few. It's completely dependant on how much email its getting at the time. (As a data point, I notice right now emails are sticking around 183 minutes).

Although I fully agree with the latter part, if you want to test mailinator out - please do !!! Send anything you like :)

Finally the last paragraph states that we remove some headers. This is nuts. The code has never removed any headers whatsoever. And on every page showing an email, there is a "text-view" link where you can see the email PRECISELY as mailinator received it. Headers, dirty words, mime-encoded images, you name it. In other words, that paragraph is dead wrong.

I haven't seen any garbled emails for a long time either (probably was when the parsing code was originally written). We support most encodings, (japanese and russian emails look cool), I suppose if you send an email with some odd encoding that Java doesn't support or mis-specify an encoding things might look garbled. Regardless - if you see a garbled email - please let me know!

I tried to replace the last paragraph with one explaining that the "text-view" sort of proves its not true, but my change was undone immediately (so fast I'd guess it was automated) because it was "Wikipedia Vandalism". I'm not too fond of the paragraph that says emails "disappear" given that its pretty misleading, but God forbid I try to fix that one.

If you're a common Wikipedia poster - please feel free to fix this entry. All I'm hoping to get up there is (something closer to) the truth.


newtronic said...

I'm a rare wikipedia contributor, but I logged in and made a few changes. Hopefully for the better!

Josh in California said...

I did what I could. Don't know how long it'll stay this way:

Domains from services like Mailinator are banned from some websites for the reasons stated above. Mailinator provides alternate domains which work around this ban in most cases.

Users who are unfamiliar with the way Mailinator works may also be surprised that messages are removed after several hours. This is necessary because the Mailinator system has a limited amount of disk space. As new messages arrive, the oldest messages are deleted to make room for them, resulting in messages being available for a variable amount of time.

Each mailbox also has a ten-message limit, which means that choosing a unique address is important. Presumably this is to prevent a flood of mail to a single address from forcing the Mailinator system to delete messages from other mailboxes earlier than usual.

Finally, according to the Mailinator FAQ, "Plain text is best, html is filtered. Images, attachments, and fancy stuff are simply stripped away."

Paul Tyma said...

Thanks folks !

Anonymous said...

I think your service is fantastic for some websites but on my forums I do block mailinator and about fifty other disposable email services. I have downloads hosted on my site and I don't particularly care to let someone just leech without providing me with an email address of which I can email them updates through.

Paul Tyma said...

I think you missed the point here. You've blocked 50 disposable services... you're not done. There are hundreds - mailinator has over 50 alternate domains alone.

Then you have to ban every email service that provides free email - including yahoo, gmail and hotmail.

As I pointed out in the post (and provided links for) I can create a yahoo account in your name providing complete fake information in about 5 minutes.

You'll happily send your updates there and I'll never see them. The only difference is that it took me 5 minutes longer to get your download.

Czerno said...

FWIW I edited and polished the Wikipedia notice twice or thrice in the past days. I don't want to enter a futile fight with other correctors (each of whom has his or her ego, including me of course!) - anyhow the current formulation seems to "stick" and more or less objective. I've added the notion that one is allowed to designate mailinator's as MX for one's own domains, while I was at it.

Thanks for the great service!

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