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Blacklist Operations and Practices: Excerpts from an ASRG Draft

The Anti-Spam Research Group (ASRG) published a draft for an Overview of Email DNSBL Best Practices. We can take a step back and review paragraph 2.2.5 (Conflict of Interest):

Some DNSBLs used for blocking/negative reputation have had a practice of requiring fees or donations to charities from the listee for delisting. It is generally considered entirely appropriate for a DNSBL to charge for access to it by its users—the definition of a commercial DNSBL. However, the practice of requiring a listee to pay for delisting from a negative connotation DNSBL steers perilously close to notions of extortion, blackmail or a “protection racket”. Even if such accusations are entirely unjustified the practice causes uproar and damage to the DNSBLs reputation, if not the entire DNSBL mechanism as a whole. Colloquially, ‘it smells bad’. Therefore, negative-connotation DNSBLs MUST not charge fees or require donations for delisting or “faster handling”, and it is RECOMMENDED that such DNSBLs that do charge fees or require donations not be used.”

It will be interesting to see how this works out after the draft is reviewed, and a decision is made.

Looking from another angle, this jogs my memory back to a recent blog post by an industry colleague on ReturnPath’s “Received” blog about How To (or How Not To) Operate a Blacklist, which digs deeper into blacklist operations. For the industry in general, what stands out is being professional—so maybe it’s time to really sit down and re-visit the subject of “Best Practices on how to run a blacklist”.

By Udeme Ukutt, Postmaster at Wish

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Talk about a buried lede! Neil Schwartzman  –  Mar 1, 2011 11:43 PM

Udeme is being polite in his description of the discussions over on the IRTF’s ASRG mailing list. I believe the term I might have chosen would be RAKE FIGHT!

One DNSBL operator, representing virtual unknowns UCE Protect, who charge for express “manual” delistings was vehemently opposed to the clause disallowing the activity. The rest of the anti-spam community including representatives from virtually every major DNSBL told him he was wrong. After some hyperbole, Claus, said rep. informed the world that the staffers at UCE Protect had gone on strike, and refused to do any manual delistings. It gets stranger - the archives are worth a read, if only for humourous ends:


Blogger Ken Magill did a great write-up on all the issues in his piece “An Educational Kerfuffle in Anti-Spam Land

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