Chip Shots by Chip Griffin

I Hate Spam Blacklists

I hate spam.  But I think I hate spam blacklists more.  Earlier today, a company that I do a lot of business with had their email server address added to a spam blacklist.  Since the email hosting provider I use screens inbound email using that blacklist, nobody from that company can email me until they get de-listed. 

That’s frustrating because neither I nor any of the employees at the company have any control over it.  A mysterious third-party blacklist maintainer makes the decision using whatever criteria they want.  I’m confident the company in question doesn’t engage in any spamming, so whatever has caused it to be added to the list is clearly an error of some sort. 

I’ve had this happen to mail servers of companies I have run in the past.  Often it has been a case of the blacklist provider adding a whole range of IP addresses from an individual hosting company.  That’s the most egregious approach I can think of, as it clearly penalizes customers with servers that have never engaged in spamming.  In another case, one of our servers was assigned a new IP address for the mail server as part of a migration and it turned out that IP address was on one or more blacklists.

So as much as I hate spam, I hate seeing blacklists cause the havoc they do.  (And before you tell me I just shouldn’t use a provider that uses a blacklist as part of a screening process, it isn’t that simple.  And more to the point even if I didn’t use such a provider, others would.  And until blacklist providers operate more in the open and with less of a “guilty until proven innocent” approach, it will still punish too many innocent companies and their employees.)

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