You may not know the name J.D. Falk off the top of your head, but he worked tirelessly to protect your inbox from spam. Falk’s untimely death came yesterday at the age of 37, but he fought cancer long enough to see his IETF RFC published.
Jesse David Falk was a founding member of the Coalition Against Unsolicited Commercial Email (CAUCE), the Messaging Anti-Abuse Working Group (MAAWG), and was an active member of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF).
For the last four years, Falk worked for Return Path, in addition to his volunteer work with CAUCE, MAAWG and the IETF. In his too-short career, Falk also worked on email and anti-spam systems with Microsoft, Yahoo, MAPS, and a number of other companies. He worked with the creators of DomainKeys at Yahoo, and managed the creation of its inbound and outbound feedback loops. Falk was also the “primary instigator” of the Box of Meat linkblog.
Falk’s RFC on complaint feedback loops was based on MAAWG best practices. The editing process was fast-tracked by the IETF so that Falk could see the final draft. According to the Virus Bulletin post noting his passing, Falk did get to see the final draft a few hours before he died.
The MAAWG memorial to Falk says he was devoted to his wife Hope, his friends, and community. It’s clear from all of the tributes posted so far that Falk was not only highly regarded for his work, but also extremely well-liked throughout the industry. Though he died too young, MAAWG notes that he “lived at Internet speed” and “seemed to be everywhere and involved in any project that could make messaging and the Internet a better place.”
Falk also displayed wit and thoughtfulness in discussing the intersection between the Internet and advertising. His thoughts on email are well worth reading if you’ve missed them before now and worth re-reading otherwise.