[thelist] Spam Cop??

Ben Dyer ben_dyer at imaginuity.com
Thu Feb 13 10:18:02 CST 2003

At 09:47 AM 2/13/2003, you wrote:
>I agree completely with you that blacklists have a problem because of false
>positives. That is why SpamCop warns you not to use their list in a
>production environment. Furthermore, IF you decide to use their list, they
>advice you to tag the messages instead of blocking them. The SpamCop list
>does not maintain a history; if there are no reports coming in anymore, your
>IP address will automatically be delisted. Only if many people keep on
>reporting your server you will stay on the SpamCop list, but if this is the
>case you should review your servers.

But this is the inherent problem with blackhole lists.

1. People assume that they are permanently reliable.
2. SpamCop assumes that reports are true.

And, yes, to a certain extent, they can test for that last one, but only
for open relays.  They can't vouch for accuracy in spam submitted and it's
very easy to doctor.

Additionally, many decisions from SpamCop are not made from reports, but
from overbroad IP- and host-based filters.

Ultimately, it *is* how people use the technology, not the technology
itself, but that is of no consolation to the many innocent people who have
their e-mail blocked.

>It is indeed true that if your hosting company hosts a lot of spammers that
>some blacklist will list your sites ass well. But think about it: do you
>want to be hosted by a company that supports spammers?????? And if enough
>clients are leaving the hosting company because of the spammers, in the end
>they will drop the spammers.

Well, when you're signing up for a hosting company, do you think they are
advertising their status in various blackhole lists? :)

And, besides, we're not talking about little nobody hosting companies,
among those frequently blacklisted are UUNet (MCI Worldcom) and
Rackspace.  With thousands and thousands of customers.  And because 99% of
people who sign up for hosting won't know any better (until their e-mail
gets blocked, anyways)...  I don't buy the flawed argument that the hosting
company will "learn from the their mistakes."  It's too much of "the ends
justify the means."

However, ultimately, content-based spam filtering (like SpamAssassin) is
more effective anyways.  It generates far fewer false-positives and only
needs to be modified occasionally for spammers who work around the filters.

And even more effective than that are the learning filters like in Apple
Mail, so when spammers change their methods, the software is smart enough
to adapt.


More information about the thelist mailing list