All About List Growth

Here it is; the definitive page at Spam Resource, where I line up everything I have to share about list growth. The next person that asks me how to grow their list will be directed to this post.

Venkat Balasubramani: Portrait of a Lawyer Turned Anti-Spammer

Let's talk about Dan Balsam, lawyer turned anti-spam crusader. I've been glibly telling friends and colleagues that this guy is my hero, but Venkat Balasubramani rightly asks some important questions: Is he actually collecting on judgments? And what about his recent loss in the 9th Circuit?

Spouse Can't Hack Your Email, says Michigan

As the Detroit Free Press reported, a Michigan resident faces felony hacking charges for accessing his wife's email account sans her consent. Is this a case of a good deed gone wrong, or a line that never should have been crossed? I'm potentially on the fence, but overall, I think you shouldn't be snooping in somebody else's email, period, full stop. After all, the government isn't allowed to do it without a warrant. (H/T: Consumerist)

Have you checked out NiX Spam?

Marcel Lohmann, one of the admins behind the NiX Spam DNSBL, reached out to me to ask me if I would review this DNSBL. I haven't published any new blacklist reviews in a couple of years (and that's not likely to change any time soon), but I am happy to link to his Spamhunter blog post that talks about why you should consider using the NiX Spam DNSBL.

What say you, good readers? Do any of you use this DNSBL? What do you think of it?

Quick Note: AOL Inbound Email Issues

AOL hasn't yet mentioned this on their Postmaster Blog, but multiple sources are reporting that AOL's MX records temporarily vanished overnight. It's not clear how long the issue lasted, but based on the TTL (time to live) cache set for the AOL domain, the error persisted for at least an hour. I saw one ESP notice the issue about 1:15 am central time.

While the issue was ongoing, your attempts to email AOL users would result in a hard bounce. No MX or A record was found in DNS for during that time.

The issue seems to be resolved as of this writing (10:45 am central).

Update: Annalivia Ford writes about this issue over on her blog, and Return Path's J.D. Falk covers it as well.

Backscatter from Microsoft Exchange

As I have talked about before, backscatter is an annoying menace. Backscatter messages are sort of "ghost" bounces that come back to you, from sites that you've never sent mail to. It typically happens because a spammer is forging your email address or domain in spam, and the receiving mailserver is configured in a way that allows it to accept all mail before validating whether or not that mail can be configured. I get thousands of these "backscatter" bounces everyday, and, to put it bluntly, they suck.

Spamhaus under DDOS from AnonOps (

Steve Linford of well-respected anti-spam group Spamhaus reports that Spamhaus is currently under DDoS attack by a pro-Wikileaks group. He has asked that the following information be shared relating to this ongoing attack.

Newegg Continues to Spam, says Horwath

My old friend Mike Horwath updates us anew on unwanted mail from Newegg. Sadly, they seem to be continuing to send unsolicited email to Mike's coworkers. (Previously.)

Gov't Needs Warrant to Search Email

Engadget reports that "the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled [on Monday] that the government must have a search warrant before it can obtain email from your provider. Specifically, the court held in U.S. v Warshak that "it would defy common sense to afford emails lesser Fourth Amendment protection" than traditional communications like phone calls and postal mail."

I wonder, is there any concern here for spam filtering? Some ISPs can clearly see into end user mailboxes and occasionally pull that data out for spam filter troubleshooting. Do they need to be concerned about doing so?

Canada Passes Anti-Spam Legislation

CAUCE Reports: "It’s been a long time coming, but Canada has an anti-spam law, and one, which sets a new world standard, and a tough, but fair, opt-in protocol for everyone in North America who sends commercial email and other electronic messages."

FISA (Fighting Internet and Wireless Spam Act) is an opt-in law, but not arduously so. Marketers shouldn't be afraid. After all, you were already required to respect opt-in permission, if you wanted the best possible ability to get your emails delivered, right?

Don't be afraid of the private right of action, either. As Ken Magill previously reported, the barrier to entry for a lawsuit is fairly high, due to the "loser pays" provisions extant under Canadian law.

Wikileaks Mirror Malware Warning

Spamhaus is warning that Wikileaks is redirecting web visitors to a mirror site hosted in "blackhat" network space that is currently listed on the Spamhaus SBL, and, as a result, the mirror site in question may not be safe to browse. Read all about it here.

HolomaXx Dismisses Suits against Return Path, Cisco IronPort

Ken Magill reports that HolomaXx has dropped its suits against Return Path and Cisco IronPort. Read all about it here. (Previously.)

How To (or How Not To) Operate a Blacklist

Today, Return Path posted a short but very helpful set of guidelines that one should keep in mind when operating a DNSBL anti-spam blacklist. It's a must read.

All About Email Address Validation

If you're wondering what SMTP email address validation is, why it is a bad idea, and what your options are, check out my short series on the topic:
  1. SMTP Address Validation: Bad Idea. What is it? How does it work? Why do ISPs hate it?
  2. Email Address Validation: Options. In this followup, I share with you some address validation do's and don'ts. How to maximize list hygiene without running afoul of spam filters.
If you've got additional resources to share on the topic, I'd love to add to them here. Please drop me a line or post it in comments.

Feelin' Old

All these young kids with their new-fangled email marketing and deliverability's making me feel old, especially having today stumbled across an archived version of this very website from almost exactly nine years ago.

More on Growing Your List

Last week I shared a number of excellent list building tips from Andrew Kordek of Trendline Interactive. (Thanks again for that insight, Andrew!) Today, I'd like to share with you some more great suggestions on how to grow your list.

Mark Brownlow on Permission

Mark Brownlow over on Email Marketing Reports: In addition to expertly recapping the recent discussions surrounding permission versus relevance, opt-in versus opt-out, Mark adds his own succinct commentary to the mix:

Ask Al: How do I grow my list?

Sharon writes, "How do I build a list from scratch as a new company? Should I get someone to harvest them by hand so they are super targeted? Yes, I understand that spamming is unacceptable. Okay, so then how do I get a list or rather grow my own list?"