Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What happened to McAfee and Postini?

Slashdot asked the other day, "Why Are Major Companies Exiting the Spam Filtering Business?" It sounds a bit like they're trying to take two events and define them together as a trend, but I don't think that holds up under scrutiny.

I guess they've got a point about MXLogic. MxLogic was purchased by McAfee in 2009. McAfee was bought up by Intel in 2010. And now Intel has announced that McAfee's Software-as-a-Service anti-spam solution will be shut down in January, 2017. They're recommending Proofpoint as an alternative solution. So they certainly seem to be saying bye-bye.

But they also talk about Postini. Google purchased Postini in 2007. They later announced that they were shutting down Postini, with users to be transitioned to Google Apps by sometime in 2015. This, to me, is somewhat less of a surprise -- I think it was obvious that Google purchased Postini to shore up its own anti-spam efforts, and I'm sure whatever Google felt was useful about Postini probably made its way into Gmail or Google Apps' own spam filtering functionality. So Postini didn't really disappear so much as become some tiny little hidden bit of Google.

Spam filtering still seems like a big, lucrative deal to me. It's certainly a selling point for Google Apps, and other B2B and B2C providers spend lots of money on perfecting spam filtering. Thus, I don't think that it's accurate to say that something must be up here, that "big companies are exiting the space," because it only really seems like Intel is the one saying they don't want to be a part of that space. What do you think, dear reader?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reference: Yahoo Email Domains

Sometimes it comes in handy to know all of the common domains associated with a given Internet Service Provider (ISP) or webmail provider.

I believe these are all of the most common email domains associated with Yahoo! Mail, according to what I can recall, with help from this Port25 forum post.

Yahoo Domains:

Anybody got any others that I've missed? Feel free to share in comments and I'll update this list.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Reference: AOL Email Domains

Sometimes it comes in handy to know all of the common domains associated with a given Internet Service Provider (ISP) or webmail provider.

I believe these are all of the common email domains associated with AOL Mail, according to what I can recall, with a few more found on the AOL Mail Wikipedia page.

AOL Domains:

Anybody got any others that I've missed? Feel free to share in comments and I'll update this list.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Checking Email Content with SpamAssassin

Initially created by Justin Mason in 2001, the open-source SpamAssassin spam filter is pretty widely used. It's not in use directly at the top tier of ISPs like Yahoo, Hotmail and Gmail, but it does seem to be used by various second and third tier providers, B2B sites, hobbyists and educational institutions. And even though this filter isn't exactly the same as the filters in use at, say, Gmail, there's likely some truth to the theory that "what SpamAssassin suggests may be spammy, other filters may find spammy as well." Great minds think alike, to some degree, the theory goes. Thus, some folks find SpamAssassin to be a valuable tool to check to get some idea if their email messages might be considered spammy.

Want to check your email against SpamAssassin? Postmark has this tool where you can copy-and-paste your message headers and content, or use an API call, to check a message against the SpamAssassin filter. SpamScoreChecker.com will give you an address to send an email message to, and then allows you to click through to see the scoring results. IsNotSpam.com is another tool that works similarly.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

10 Simple List-Building Tips

Here are ten simple list building tests that I keep in my pocket, to share with folks when they ask. Some are better than others, but most of them are easy, no-brainer things that anybody running a site trying to build a list of subscribers should be doing.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Making it Easy to Unsubscribe (#2)

Back in my e-commerce days, we used to use this "one weird trick" to help reduce spam complaint rates: We put a prominent "click here to unsubscribe" link at the top of the email message. No need to scroll down to the footer to unsubscribe. What happened? Spam complaints went down, unsubscribes went up a little, then down over time.

In this context, that was a very good thing. These were emails sent to people who signed up via a double opt-in (confirmed opt-in) process, a free trial software download registration. A lot of them just wanted the free product and were quick to complain about the mail they received as a result. Even though it was double opt-in, even though it was clearly spelled out at the point of capture.

Of course, an easy unsubscribe is NOT a substitute for permission. You can't just buy some list and start mailing it and say "but it's easy for people to unsubscribe." That's the kind of thing that'll get you blacklisted by Spamhaus or get your ESP account terminated for violating ISP and ESP permission requirements.

But if you make it as easy to unsubscribe as it is to hit "report spam," you're likely to get a net positive impact to your sending reputation.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Does anyone at AT&T netops read Spam Resource?

That's a novel way to request unblocking: Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow recently posted a request for an AT&T representative to help assist with getting his mail server unblocked.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Feedback Loop (FBL) Resources from M3AAWG

Industry group M3AAWG (the Messaging, Malware and Mobile Anti-Abuse Working Group) just published an overview of what ISP Feedback Loops (FBLs) are and how they work. They've also included a comprehensive list of known ISP Feedback Loops. Click here to check them out.