Archive for the ‘email’ Category

TapVerified email, at a cost

7 Feb 2006 12:14 by Rick

You may have seen the announcement the other day that AOL and Yahoo have a wizard wheeze for solving the spam problem. They will charge non-spamming bulk email senders a fraction of a penny per email to guarantee delivery. dg [link edited 21 Feb] has a good commentary on this pointing out that it would mean the end of email as we know it and seems to be more of a revenue generator than a service for customers.

The catch is that, other than these premium emails, everything else will go into the junk box unless it is from known correspondents. So don’t expect to get mail from someone that you haven’t pre-authorised, such as long lost cousin Gertie or the confirmation that the widget that you just bought is on its way.

TapBlacklist Madness

12 Oct 2005 18:34 by Rick

I have been losing incoming mail (apologies if you have written to me and I haven’t replied). No mail from Wanadoo has been reaching my addresses.

Wanadoo, formerly known as Freeserve and soon to become Orange, is one of the largest ISPs in Britain; possibly in Europe as well. Despite its rather poor customer service reputation, it is very popular with low activity users, which is why most of the rest of my family, my church, and many friends use it. I wrote to my hosting company ( and they said that

Wanadoo’s email server is black listed by

The address in question is When I queried this, because I deliberately do not subscribe to their anti-spam service preferring to handle it myself, they said

Doteasy does not use

but that is appearing on our external relay blocking list, which includes more than one external spam blocking database. We are unable to “unblock” IP addresses that appear on this list.

I am not sure that I believe them but there is little more that I can do (except walk).

I also wrote to Wanadoo (in my role as Technology Manager for my church) and they said that they are

in contact with several well-recognised blacklisting organisations

but not with the

smaller providers such as Spews who do not provide contact details

(not mentioning Spambag.)

The feature of the blacklist in question is called a backscatter list. Spam often includes forged return addresses. If a mail server rejects the spam, some send a “bounce” to the reply address which ends up at an innocent third party rather than the spammer. This is backscatter and Spambag operates a “shoot first and ask questions later” policy listing whole domains and address ranges.

So where does that leave us—an unaccountable organisation (Spambag, just one guy and his vendetta) working with an unknown infrastructure organisation is blocking legitimate mail between my friends and me. Spambag justifies his actions on the grounds that he is entitled to block whatever he likes from his network and I agree. However he has also taken positive action to make his list available to anyone else and they have implemented it at random and unknown points throughout the internet. This is lunacy.

The real lunacy is that blacklists don’t work at all because the lister cannot keep up with the rapidly moving spammers; much spam comes from compromised user’s machines; blacklists penalise the innocent—they have no, or very little, control over their ISP and are often unaware that there is anything wrong. Blacklists are what has made email an unreliable form of communication and have caused a lot of disillusionment for Joe Public about the internet revolution.

In the mean time, for those who can’t get an email to me, I will put a Form Mail page on here as soon as I can find one written by someone who knows more than how to put two semicolons together.

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