Friday, January 18, 2008

Blunt Instrument Trauma (or why you haven't heard from me lately)

Rant advisory

Rob Frieden wants us to "blame blogspot" for his email not getting to his wife (her company's spam filtering solution deems any message containing any blogspot url to be spam and bounces it).

I've been having similar problems sending legitimate professional email to colleagues at various universities (these emails contained citations of various entries on this here blog; bounces included Harvard and the University of California Santa Barbara among others). Some of them at least employ a bounce message that explains why:

Spamhaus is the culprit.

Newsflash for Spamhaus and filter writers everywhere:
  • Link spam is an evil-bad problem.
  • Dropping a nuke in the baby's bathwater is not the schoolhouse solution.
Maybe I should bill Spamhaus (or those institutions using its black list) for the time I've spent troubleshooting this. Maybe you should too.

Update: this has been going on for a while:
And, most interesting of all, the comment stream on Storm Hits Blogger Network (slashdot, 30 August 2007) ... search in page for "spamhaus" ... where we find arguments to the effect that my reaction above fails to capture the full complexities of the situation.

1 comment:

Nantonos said...

Tom, I seem to recall W3C had a similar situation with Spamhaus. Some folks were getting mail from W3C blocked; and apparently this was because "links to your institution are often found in spam".

Don't know whether to laugh or cry; those are not links, dudes, those are DOCTYPE declarations and xhtml namespace declarations.

Still, at least there is an educational message about false positives and false negatives to be drawn from this ...