Guest Post: Huey Callison: Reader Feedback Week

A spammer was kind enough to leave me a voicemail message today. I wanted to share it with you, so you could understand the delightful insight I receive from listening to differing viewpoints. Alas, I'm traveling for work, so I didn't really have a lot of time to respond to him. My friend Huey Callison kindly offered to respond on my behalf. Here's his response. Thank you, Huey!

Voicemail transcription:
Is this Al Iverson from n.a.n-a.e? Oh man, what a piece of shit. Are you guys- ...are you the one that owns the uh- ...the uh- ...DNSBL blacklist thing you're running there, you piece of sh*t? The one that f*cks with peoples' money? I just figured I'd give you a call every day and f*ck with you since you wanna f*ck with me. I'll see you on n.a.n-a.e, b*tch.
Mister Anderson:

Regrettably, Mr. Iverson is travelling for an industry conference, and was unavailable to take your call. However, as your reader satisfaction is important to us, I appreciate the opportunity to address some of your concerns.

First, like many requests for assistance in the deliverability field, yours failed to include nearly enough information to identify the underlying problem, much less recommend a remediation strategy going forward. But, as a veteran of the US Army and a frequent bar-patron, I'm reasonably fluent in semi-coherent obscenities, so I'm going to make an educated guess as to what the problem is, and attempt to offer some suggestions that I hope you'll find useful.

To answer your initial question, probably not, no. DNSBL Resource and Spam Recource are websites focused on the discussion of various DNSBLs and issues relating to spam and deliverability in general, but do not actually operate any DNSBLs, so they don't actually do anything to anybody's money, other than the token amount it costs the owners to maintain a few domains and websites.

In re: your second point, we regret to inform you that we are uninterested in sexual intercourse with you at this time, and calling every day is unlikely to help, at least in the near term. We will be happy to keep your request on file, and let you know if any positions open up in the future.

As to your last point, I'm sorry to disappoint you again, but ceased to be a useful information source to email industry professionals somewhere around ten years ago. At this point, the nicest, most genuinely helpful person still reading and posting to n.a.n-a.e semi-regularly is a programmer named Vernon Schryver, and I'm confident that even he will admit that he is unlikely to win many Miss Congeniality awards.

But I can't help but notice that you sound very angry, and I strongly suspect that this is due to some interaction with a DNSBL (probably a listing, or a threatened listing) that has affected you financially in some way. Again, I'm operating on somewhat limited information here, so I can't definitively identify if that's even the case, much less which one. But again, I can guess: the only DNSBL with the reach and influence that I would suspect could provoke financial difficulties and this much ire would be the Spamhaus SBL.

A disclaimer: I am in no way connected to Spamhaus beyond being a fan and occasional user of services that they provide, so some of this information is conjecture on my part, based on observations of how they seem to work. It seems to me that an SBL listing is generally indicative of an emergent danger somewhere in your business process, and would most often indicate that you, or perhaps one of your affiliates, or possibly someone else on the same IP address as you, is sending a lot of spam. It could also indicate that your IP address also hosts a webserver serving a link that is mentionend in a lot of spam, or a nameserver that serves DNS records for a domain linked to a lot of spam. In general, an SBL listing is a pretty severe symptom of some kind of spam-related problem.

So, if you were listed by the SBL, and it's because of some link between your business and spam, getting angry at us will not help you. When our machines are listed by Spamhaus (it's rare, but it has happened) we have to go through the same delisting procedure as everyone else. Getting angry at Spamhaus will not help you either. The solution is relatively simple: cease any current involvement and avoid any future involvement with spam, and follow the published delisting procedures on the Spamhaus website.

I'll grant that it is possible that you are already avoiding any involvement with spam, and still find yourself SBL listed. Your SBL listing could be for a virtual server or shared webhosting arrangement on the same IP address as someone else who is involved with spam, in which case your solution is to move the affected services to a more reputable provider.

In summary: although I am unsure what exactly your DNSBL problems entail, I am certain that they are not being caused by DNSBL Resource or Spam Resource, and I can't really make any more specific recommendations without further information about your situation. I hope I've addressed your concerns to your satisfaction, but if I have not, please don't hesitate to contact us again. We always appreciate hearing from our loyal readers.

Have a blessed day,
Huey Callison
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