Do you want to fund the lawsuit?

Mickey Chandler asks, "Do you want to fund the lawsuit?" Meaning, if you're splitting the hair very thin to make the case that what you're doing *must* be legally compliant, ask yourself: Do you really want to be that edge case that gets pulled into court? If not, do the right thing and back away from the edge. It's not about what you can get away with under the law. It's about following best practices, not sending spam, making it easy for people to unsubscribe, and doing what ISPs want.

If you're asking yourself, how close can we get to the line without stepping over, it may well be that you're asking the wrong question.

The "Report Moron" Button

Terry Zink blogs about the necessity of a "Report Moron" button. Ha.

Offers You Can't Refuse

Dylan from email service provider eROI talks about how he got an offer to sign up for services from a competing email service provider.

And, as Dylan puts it, "they are using my emailROI email address that I stopped using over 4 years ago. And this sender is something that I have never heard from before in my life nor have I got emails from them before."

Yikes. Spam, anyone? Read all about it here.

MAPS: Ancient History

Check out this very old presentation about the Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS) , from October, 2000.

I had already left MAPS at that point, but apparently, my personal brand was strong enough to leave my name in the presentation, as it indicates that RSS was created by me.

Also, I designed that presentation template, as well as the MAPS logo and logotype of the time. Oh, how horribly dated it all seems today.

MAPS created the first Realtime Blackhole List (RBL), the very first DNSBL, way back in 1997. It's hard to believe that anti-spam blacklists are over ten years old!

One of MAPS other blacklists, RSS, was a re-branded version of my original Radparker Relay Spam Stopper (RRSS) blacklist, which I first shared with the world back in May, 1999.

The EEC/Zinio Affair

Insight on the topic (and thoughts on industry leadership issues) from Ken Magill and Laura Atkins.

Postini Bug and False Positives

Ben at MailChimp takes us through it:
  • Postini causes wanted mail to not be delivered.
  • MailChimp tries to work with Postini.
  • Postini rather lamely says, "Yeah, they're known spammers."
  • MailChimp pushes hard enough and long enough that Postini actually looks into it.
  • And finds that it is an actual, honest-to-goodness bug where Postini is mangling mail headers. (Oooops.)
Remember what I was saying about how better spam filterers actually work with senders?

This is a perfect example of the type of situation where glazed over eyes and closed ears on the part of the spam filterer is unhelpful and useless. Postini was incorrectly labeling that mail as spam, and falsely calling somebody a spammer. But it took a lot of pushing to get to that point, before Postini actually investigated and admitted that they were at fault. It makes me wonder, "Does it make good business sense, does it make for a smarter and better spam filter, if you just assume everybody who asks you for help must be a spammer?" I don't see how it does.

(H/T: Word to the Wise)

Thanks, James Gordon

Remember James Gordon? The guy who sued Virtumundo, and lost? If you don't remember, here's some history: Ken Magill laughs at Gordon here. Mickey Chandler talks about it here. Ed Falk talks about how Gordon lost so badly that Virtumundo was awarded legal fees.

Behold the Box of Meat

Might I recommend you check out J.D. Falk's "Box of Meat" blog? It has rapidly become one of my favorites, the blog I check first when it's time to start reading my way around the blog-o-sphere. Quick links (and insightful one liners) take you straight to the articles you need to read. (And I'm not just saying that because he links to articles here every once in a while.)

Sender Complaints about Spam Filtering

Laura Atkins of Word to the Wise covers the topic capably, covering both sides of the ISP/blacklist filtering coin. Here’s my take on it, based on my experiences working both as a blacklist operator, and consultant working with senders on how to improve delivery by doing the right thing.

On one side, you have the Inbox Monsters – senders who care only about getting to the inbox. They don’t care about best practices, they don’t care about opt-in, and they think every filtering decision that impedes their inbox delivery must be a mistake, because, in their opinion, everybody wants their mail, even if stats suggest otherwise.

On the other side, you do you have spam filters that occasionally misfire. And you have some filtering companies that are notoriously unresponsive to requests for clarification or assistance with listings (companies like Postini and Barracuda). Do spam filterers owe it to senders to have a contact point, a web form where senders can reach out and request assistance to address a spam filtering issue?

Of course not. Filterers, ISPs, and blacklists are free to decline any sort of contact with the sending world. I don’t blame some of them for working this way; there are a lot of bad senders out there, and I am sure any sort of “sender help line” receives 90% lies all day long, every day. “Sure, that list is opt-in!” “No, we would never buy a list!”

But not all senders are Inbox Monsters. And sometimes spam filters do misfire. Sometimes, even if they didn’t misfire, a sender would benefit from a bit of clarity over what actually went wrong; what send practice or list hygiene failure actually caused the block. This is useful information that helps guide senders on how to clean things up and keep the problem from recurring.

And think about this: Who are the most successful, most respected spam filterers out there? The ones with the happiest customers, the ones with the best reputations? They’re the ones who actually talk to and work with senders to resolve problems. Entities like Spamhaus, AOL, Ironport. MXLogic, MessageLabs and Frontbridge. They’re all easy to talk to; easy to work with to resolve issues. They have staff and/or procedures for reaching out when there’s a filtering or blocking issue. They seem to want to help senders succeed, understanding that it results in less spam for them to have to filter, and it results in a lot fewer filtering misfires.

If you run a blacklist, make filtering decisions for an ISP, or sell a spam filtering service or appliance, ask yourself this: Do you work with senders? Do you help senders? Or are you rude to them, or do you ignore them?

I’ve observed that filterers that ignore senders, or are rude and short with them, tend to be less successful. Talking to senders doesn’t mean one has to bend to the will of every (or any) sender one talks to. But that dialog is valuable. Learning more about how senders work, what senders are actually doing provides valuable insight that helps making filtering efforts more successful.