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Old 29th September 2006, 04:01 PM   #1
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Default My Emails Are Not Being Delivered. Black Lists and White Lists Explained

Black lists and white lists explained....

"DNS black lists are lists of domains and IP's that are known to originate Spam. Many anti-spam software programs used by corporations and ISP's use these lists to control Spam by refusing any email that originates from one of these domains or IPs."

Catch it @ http://www.smallbusinessbrief.com/ar...rs/006568.html

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Old 4th October 2006, 01:46 PM   #2
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(It's "blocklists", not "Black Lists".)

While nothing in the article is explicitly false, you have to read the article with your skeptic's glasses on. Bear in mind that the author is trying to sell you services intended to keep you off of blocklists (which is a dubious business proposition at best), so it's in her interest to make blocklists sound scary. Also, I used to be a director for one of the subscription-based blocklists she mentions, so I feel I have some expertise on the subject.

First and foremost, I want to point out that the facts are a bit dated. Somewhere between 67% and 83% of all e-mail traffic seems to be spam, depending on whose stats you believe, so it's no wonder that AOL is blocking 80% of all e-mail.

Those are tough numbers to swallow, but bear in mind that at any given time there's at least 3.3 million infected computers all across the Internet spewing spam, with another 700,000 or so being discovered or infected every week.

Since these computers aren't concentrated at any particular ISP or IP address, IP-based blocklists are no longer a reliable strategy by themselves for weeding out the spam from the ham. Infected machines are scattered accross the Internet; you'd have to block the entire Internet to see any relief.

IP-based blocklists have become only a very first line of defense against spam. There are a very few clearly rogue ISPs that host flagrant spammers (and most of them seem to be offshore, either in China or in a former Soviet Block country), so blocking them based on IP address doesn't put much of a dent in the problem. A few valid spam complaints are enough to kick a spammer off of any other ISP.

By far and away, the most e-mail blocking is done not with blocklists but with filters, or "rules" that are designed to distinguish large volumes of non-unique, non-consensual e-mail from other sorts.

Does that mean you shouldn't worry about blocklists? I'm interested in anything that effects my deliverability. But bear in mind that blocking out of spite or for no other good reason rarely happens (contrary to what the author of the article would seem to have us believe). ISPs try to strike a fine balance between keeping out the spam and delivering wanted e-mail. If they err too far in one direction or the other, they lose customers. If you stick to best e-mail practices, you can't go far wrong.

Last edited by 4ndr3w; 4th October 2006 at 01:55 PM.
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Old 4th October 2006, 02:02 PM   #3
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You may be listed maliciously through one complaint of a client, or that of a competitor.
Probably not. Those DNSBLs (DNS blocklists) that are used by most major email providers are pretty rigorous, and use automated methods to determine offending mail systems. Typically, they won't block based on a personal recommendation, but rather on a characteristic of the mail server cofiguration, like whether that mail server allows "relaying" of mail by unrelated third parties (is "an open relay"). Getting removed from any of the big DNSBLs is quite simple: fix the mail server's configuration and have them test it again. It takes about 5 minutes.

Additionally, most major mail services do not use more than a couple of highly-reputable DNSBLs plus their own filters because, in the past, small, niche DNSBLs were unreliable, and often too aggressive in their blocking activities.

The bottom line is clear: If you are spamming (sending unsolicited email) then a good thing is being done when your message is blocked by whatever means. If you are truly sending out an opt-in bulk message, then your subscribers should be educated about how to allow your mail through their particular filters, and that's all it takes.

DNSBLs are easy to work with if your mail server is well-configured. And if it's not ... there is a price to pay, and rightly so.

James Butler - "Do no weevils"
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Old 23rd May 2007, 10:53 AM   #4

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Originally Posted by StupidScript View Post
Getting removed from any of the big DNSBLs is quite simple: fix the mail server's configuration and have them test it again. It takes about 5 minutes.
Ok, HOW? My company is sending out legitimate opt-in bulk emails, and I can't send anything to AOL or MAC. I also can't send an email to a customer (just a single email) to these address most of the time, but sometimes they go through.

My server has contacted AOL to try and fix the problem (so they say) with no luck. How do I get this fixed?

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Old 24th May 2007, 12:31 PM   #5
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How opt-in is your list? What you think is opt-in as a sender may be quite different from what ISPs think of as opt-in.

Are you sure it's your IP that's being blocked? Could it be that just e-mail from your company is being blocked because of poor list hygiene?

What leads you to believe you are being blocked in the first instance? Do you have a message from AOL or MAC that indicates you are being blocked? Are they citing a listing in Spamhaus or a SpamAssassin score? Can you post the message with headers?

Need a little more information to go on than what you've provided so far.

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