Monday, May 30, 2005

The abuse of Real-Time Blackhole lists

Shel Holtz

Neville and I were copied on an email from Steve O’Keefe over at the IAOC in which he said he tried sending out the association’s newsletter but it kept bouncing back. The reason, he learned, was the URL for our podcast, “For Immediate Release.” The URL was in the body of the message, but the mail server at the IAOC’s Internet Service Provider wouldn’t let the email go through as long as our URL was included. We were, it turns out, on a couple of blacklists. ...

In both instances, the owner of the SURBL site suggested he’d feel better about whitelisting us if we had spam policies on our sites. It was the combination of the vigilante approach to spam coupled with the requirement to publish an email policy that raised my eyebrows. At their core, of course, blogs are web sites. But they are part of what I have taken to calling the “collaborative” or “social web,” not the “reference web” with which most people are most familiar. How many blogs distribute email of any kind? Damn few, I suspect. Should bloggers be forced to post email policies just to comply with individuals creating blacklists that ISPs use to keep spam out of their customers’ in-boxes? How many bloggers have given any thought to posting email policies? How many bloggers have even figured out whether their blogs’ URLs are on a blacklist?

A former client of mine had a similar problem. There are many innocent bystanders in the spam wars. We need some protection from a company arbitrarily assigning you Blackhole status.

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