Godaddy blacklisted by AHBL

The outbound mail servers used by Godaddy hosting customers appear to be blacklisted by the Abusive Hosts Blocking List (AHBL). Over in this Godaddy Community Forums thread, a Godaddy representative named ChrisG seems to be implying to complaining clients that AHBL is unreliable: "We strongly recommend using consistently reliable block listing services such as Spamhaus.org. You would want to contact the ISP/Email provider and insist that they do not use AHBL's listings as legitimate emails being sent to you are being denied because of their listing."

Nearly everyone who has been blacklisted complains that the listing is unfair and that the blacklist is unreliable. Sometimes that's true, sometimes not. My experiences with the folks behind AHBL have been near universally positive -- and my experiences with Godaddy's abuse desk have not been so positive. So, I do suspect that perhaps AHBL is in the right here. If so, Godaddy needs to step up and directly engage with AHBL, and figure out what needs to be done to resolve the issue to AHBL's satisfaction.

Brielle from the AHBL responded in the thread with her take on events. She responds to Godaddy's claims that Godaddy continues to work with AHBL on the issue: "No, you are not working to resolve this issue. Last communication we had with GoDaddy was back in June or July, and were told they had no intention of 'resolving' this issue."

As it stands now, who really loses out here are Godaddy's clients -- finding themselves caught in a pissing match between a service provider and a blacklist publisher.

16 comments:

  1. Perhaps Al should dig into the root cause of this listing.

    It stems from a GoDaddy hosting website that is a site full of libel. This pay-to-read libel site is known to spam usenet, as well as UCE to spamvertise his stories.

    When GoDaddy support was contacted about posts on this website, in San Antonio, TX regarding unproven claims that a person or persons in or around Ottawa, Canada were pedophiles. GoDaddy's response was "well they must be pedophiles!"

    This hate site was ToS'd off of XO.com, and a spam-friendly host in Malaysia, as well as several others.

    His website domain name is actually blocked by Google Groups, if you try to post that URL from Google Groups the post will not work.

    So GoDaddy is having a serious effect on all of it's users because they harbor this person and his spam site.

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  2. I have to say that I agree with AHBLs stance: What GoDaddy says with regards to abusive customers versus what it actually does are often two different things.

    This black eye - and lost business - for GoDaddy was completely preventable: Do not post an Acceptable Use Policy if you do not intend to abide by it.

    Further, GoDaddy suggesting that one of their abusive customers' victims "might be a sexual predator anyway" goes from unprofessional to questionably illegal and most certainly unethical.

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  3. Thank you, Al, for covering this. Like you said, the people worst off are the customers who caught in the middle - and it doesn't help that there's an awful lot of misinformation going on too.

    We've always been forth coming on why this issue happened in the first place - it was caused by one of GoDaddy's users going to the extreme in abuse and harassment, and GoDaddy's abuse department telling us that they refuse to enforce their tos/aup even when it was being violated in plain sight.

    We've always been willing to work with them. We're not asking them alot or anything out of the ordinary. We just want them to follow the tos/aup that they paid their lawyers $$$ to write.

    They've got my contact phone number, and they've got the contact phone number of one of the other admins. The ball is in their court.

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  4. Since GoDaddy has removed my posting to that page in an attempt to cover up and remove any traces of what we were talking about, here's what I posted in full:

    ==========================
    Since there's alot of stuff flying back and forth on this thread, how about I hop in the mix, since this is about my service.

    ChrisG said, "We are still working to resolve this matter with AHBL."

    No, you are not working to resolve this issue. Last communication we had with GoDaddy was back in June or July, and were told they had no intention of 'resolving' this issue.

    Your people _did_ tell us they were ready to work with us on the situation at hand, but that was a lie.

    Your people told us "Provide us with full documentation and a time line on the situation and we will present a resolution to you.' We spent days pulling records, finding old e-mails, forum posts, etc, and sent it off. Then, suddenly, we get no response, the person 'assigned' to the issue no longer takes our calls, and we get told that your company has no desire to actually come to a resolution.

    So, it appears that it was nothing but a stall tactic designed to waste our time.

    Lets dig into some of the things that have happened since this issue began that lead to us having to go the route we did...

    1) GoDaddy abuse/support has the gall to say that one of the victims of their customer's abuse was a sexual predator. This poor man is a father with kids. Real classy there, guys.

    2) GoDaddy abuse/support tells us that they will not enforce their terms of service or acceptable use policy, even when presented with evidence of abuse/violations, unless forced to by law enforcement.

    3) GoDaddy abuse/support lies to us about wanting to 'resolve' the issue, assures us that they will work with us to come to a conclusion. We waste the time of several admins over the course of days to get them the info they requested. Not cool.

    4) GoDaddy abuse/support told us to "do what we needed to do, we do not care" with regards to the blocking, so we did.

    We got sick and tired of being jerked around and lied to, plain and simple. I'm not willing to commit my time and effort to a company that has the balls to pull the stuff they did. We _were_ willing to delist all of GoDaddy's space if they had followed through with their claims of wanting to work with us as a show of good faith on our part.

    Now, to address several concerns others on this thread have asked…

    @Pat Ferdinandi: Its not your responsibility to contact us. At this point, there is nothing that GoDaddy _customers_ can do about this situation. We will need to hear from someone at GoDaddy who has the actual authority to work on a resolution.

    @ShelLuser: The disclaimer is a standard one, not unlike what Spamhaus used to require to do a lookup on their site. Nothing unusual. We provide data, with no conditions or strings attached other then that what you do with it is your own responsibility.

    We haven't sold hosting services in a long time, haven't needed to. Domain registrations are done for our own benefit and for that of our own users. Can't remember the last time we ever broke even on the domain stuff. Further, it is standard policy that people who have been listed in the AHBL are barred from ever paying for any services we may offer - that way, people like you can't claim we are trying to steal business. :-)

    In the end, we offered up a solution, and even a peace offering, but all that got us was alot of wasted time and annoyance on our end. They have noone to blame but themselves.
    ==========================

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  5. Interestingly, Brielle's reply has now been deleted from that discussion, along with comments from others in support of her position.

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  6. @Andy: That would be what happens when a big company tries to save face knowing they are lying through their teeth. :)

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  7. I'm a customer of GoDaddy and now my emails are being listed as spam because my domain(s) mx points to GoDaddy(presmtp.ex1.secureserver.net). This is punishment to legit GoDaddy customers too, not just GoDaddy.

    -Matt Keys

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  8. Yeah, that's how blacklistings work -- anybody sending from a blacklisted IP address is impacted. Godaddy & AHBL both know this already -- it's not really news to them.

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  9. Matt, the listing is designed to work that way. Once a hosting company decides to provide service to abusers, they get listed. Their legitimate customers like you feel the repercussions. Complain to GoDaddy that their behavior is causing problems for you and ask them to take steps to clean up the listing by dealing with the abuse. If they refuse to do so, then leave. When enough legitimate customers leave, they'll either fix the problem or all they will have left is abusers.

    By not taking action and attempting to blame the messenger, GoDaddy is heading down a slippery slope. If they show no sign of fixing their problem, the question isn't if their legitimate customers will leave them but when.

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  10. The reality here is that GoDaddy is a much larger company with a lot more money then you are and just like any huge company with money will do whatever they want. They don't have to listen to smaller companies like you. I would say you find a better way to block explicitly emails from the one source that is in question and let the remaining emails through. It isn't fair that you hold us all hostage at someone else's expense. Let's learn by example. We can't get enough Americans to stop buying gas for one week to get the prices back down to $1.xx per gallon so why do you think all of GoDaddy's customers would jump ship because of this?

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  11. I have not seen any substantiated proof that supports the claim against godaddy. So, what type of email spam was sent out from the mail servers of godaddy? Why are IP addresses blocked that are not mailservers?
    If a domain owner posts something in a forum or usenet, this can hardly be attributed to email spam.
    Furthermore - the US has the concept of freedom of speech.
    If indeed one individual was attacking/defaming another individual this has nothing to do with spam or with abuse through a provider. This is an issue between individuals. A hosting provider cannot take a position regarding that and try to regulate the speech of their members.

    Do not abuse a spam-protection mechanism for personal vendettas.

    Regards,

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  12. Andreas, I recommend you read up on the concept of free speech, and specifically, the first amendment. It doesn't work the way you think it does.

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  13. Mailer-Daemon: Not sure who you are addressing your comments toward. I did not blacklist anybody. I just run this blog where I write about spam-related stuff.

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  14. I have multiple sites hosted with Godaddy and some of my clients host with them. I am concerned that this blacklist can affect ranking. I know I wouldn’t link to anyone blacklisted and don’t assume being on a blacklist of any type is good for SEO. In fact I am afraid if I submit these sites to a directory they will be turned down as a result of being blacklisted. I am in the process of moving all of my sites away from these tainted hosting accounts. I am angry that Godaddy didn’t resolve this issue. When I called to complain I was told that it is only just one blacklist and shouldn’t affect ranking. However, I will feel much safer with my domains hosted elsewhere.

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  15. I'd be very surprised if this issue affected SEO ranking at all...they're just two totally different animals. It would result in a ton of false positives...a lot of legitimate sites have leaky SMTP servers.

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  16. @ Al - Thanks for your response! I am not sure if this would affect SEO either but I can’t be certain. I don’t assume being on a black list would help SEO so I have no reason to doubt it could hinder it. If my site is hosted in a bad neighbourhood why shouldn’t it be penalized? Beyond that it doesn’t cost much to set up a new hosting account elsewhere that isn’t blacklisted just to be safe. I use www.mxtoolbox.com blacklist look up and if I find that a site is blacklisted for what ever reason I won’t provide SEO services.

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