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Politech is the oldest Internet resource devoted to politics and technology. Launched in 1994 by Declan McCullagh, the mailing list has chronicled the growing intersection of culture, technology, politics, and law. Since 2000, so has the Politech web site.

Why not to use SpamCop -- some first-hand accounts

See also, from the second time Politech was incorrectly blacklisted by Spamcop:

"Three tales of firsthand problems with 'anti-spam' blacklists"

Previous message, from earlier today:

"Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time"



Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 19:08:03 -0600
From: Stephanie Pflumm <ozarkrockexchange@usa.net>
To: <declan@well.com>
Subject: SpamCop

Greetings Mr. McCullagh,

I am not a public relations agent, not really anyone important at all. I'm
just a simple website owner that has recently discovered my clean IP is being
blocked by Spamcop's blocklisting of my ISP.

Neither my business, nor website have ever sent out unsolicited emails, but
recently I've seen my messages being blocked at an alarming rate.

I tried repeatedly to get some kind of response from Spamcop as to why this
was happening. Everytime I ran my IP ( through their check list,
it came back clean. But my emails still bounced. Finally, last Friday I filed
a complaint with the Missouri Attorney General (where my biz is located),
asking what legal grounds Spamcop had to constrain my business in this manner,
especially since I have broken no laws.

Spamcop finally replied when I sent them a copy of my complaint. But only to
tell me I had done a bad job of choosing an ISP. I am frustrated and confused
by this whole dilemma. I will be investigating any other recourse my business
might have in fighting this unfair penalization. I am also hoping to reach
others that are being victimized by blocklisting policies.

Which is why I wanted to drop you a note. Just to offer my support for your
frustration. I promise not to bother you again, nor did I add you into any
address book or list. Please feel free to contact me if you feel I can provide
any assistance. Good luck with your fight.

Stephanie Pflumm


From: "Judith Oppenheimer" <j.oppenheimer@worldnet.att.net>
To: <declan@well.com>
Cc: <julian@spamcop.net>, <service@admin.spamcop.net>,
Subject: RE: Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 10:43:00 -0500

Anything that goes out to more than a few people, it seems, including
things that are subscribed to, are getting this treatment.

A number of prominent telephony newsletters that I get have been labeled
and or/bounced as spam, as has ICB Toll Free News and my Tollfree-L
(hosted by Yahoo's mail list service), by a variety of spam softwares
and services.

Quite frankly, while an overwhelming amount of real spam gets through,
the rejection of legitimate email is become intolerable.


Judith Oppenheimer
212 684-7210, 1 800 The Expert


Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 17:45:42 -0800
To: declan@well.com
From: dano <dano@well.com>
Subject: Re: FC: Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time

I subscribe to Spamcop. It has been having serious problems for at least 
several weeks now, including letting through email that even the most 
clueless spam-blocking bot would be able to parse. A quick look at the 
newsgroup  <news://news.spamcop.net/> will show a number of people having 
my problem, and I know of at least one other online zine (TidBITs) that at 
least occasionally gets blocked by spamcop and has a hard time getting out 
of the blackhole.

Let the market decide whether they should continue in business or not.


Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 17:52:34 -0800
To: declan@well.com, ray@everett.org
From: dano <dano@well.com>
Subject: Re: FC: Ray Everett-Church on systemic problems with SpamCop
Cc: julian@spamcop.net

I am a subscriber to SpamCop <dano45@spamcop.net>. It currently has a 
serious problem in allowing obvious spam through its filters. Since when 
should "Sexy L.A. Maid Pics" actually be allowed through a spam filter?

Another serious problem with Spamcop is its inability to handle properly 
submitted to it by subscribers.

Include these with RE-C's well-stated complaints, and it appears that 
Spamcop was a nice idea, but has outlived its functionality.


From: "Eric Stoever" <eric_stoever@hotmail.com>
To: declan@well.com
Subject: Re: FC: Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time
Date: Mon, 04 Nov 2002 15:22:41 -0500

Mr. McCullagh,

another blocking of Politech by SpamCop...

...that's enough to make one discontinue using SpamCop services!

Thank you for providing Politech.  It's certainly a better value and more 
reliable than some Internet 'services'


Eric Stoever


Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 12:52:44 -0500
From: jhh@siliconinc.net
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: Re: FC: Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time

Hi Declan,

I recently worked with a datacenter that housed a rather notorious
spammer (azoogle.com), and found out that spamcop actually does not
filter them (or several other spammers). Why? Payoffs. Thats right,
spamcop is paid to not filter several several UCB sources... I guess
thats their right though as a business (just as its mine to seek a
better source of blacklists). Its a bit annoying that they have that
paypal "donate" button up at the top of their website though. Im sure
they are doing quite well from the spammers bribes and the last thing
they need is more money.

Check it out at the link below:

Numerous spam complaints for their /24, and not a one is blacklisted.
 >From what I understand, yahoo.com also does not filter them (Ive no
proof of this though, it was just office gossip).

FYI - The azoogle people are sue-happy - please dont post my name,
Email address is ok as they dont know it.

Good luck getting un-blacklisted,



From: "Bam Mail"
To: "Declan McCullagh" <declan@well.com>
Subject: Re: Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 20:56:02 -0000

Dear Declan

[please hide email address]

SpamCop logic:

He [Julian Haight] wrote back: "I don't see what proactive action I can 
take. There is nothing wrong with the system and it may well happen again. 

What he means here presumably is there cannot be anything wrong with the 
system because he is helpless to do anything about it.  If it lists 
politechbot.com as spam then that, by admission, means there is something 
wrong with the system.



Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 16:13:52 -0500
From: "Earl H. Merry" <early@eastcore.net>
To: Declan McCullagh <declan@well.com>
Subject: Re: FC: Ray Everett-Church on systemic problems with SpamCop

My solution to spam: http://www.spamassassin.org/ . It just works. If
you are using an ISP that is using spamcop you deserve what you get.


From: "Roger..." <rdrines@SpamCop.net>
To: <declan@well.com>, <julian@SpamCop.net>
Subject: RE: Politech incorrectly blocked by SpamCop -- for the third time
Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002 11:48:19 -0800

As a long time user of Spamcop and a current email account subscriber, I like
the service Julian provides.  I'm also a long time subscriber to your list who
enjoys your writing, so I would like to see this resolved amicably.

With that said, I see some problems in the current Spamcop system design.  For
a user, the heart of the system is the simple and quick interface for
reporting Spam.  This simple feature is Spamcop's biggest asset, and weakness.
It's especially an asset for users whose Spam volume exceeds usable mail
arriving at their accounts.  Just deleting Spam with simple filters isn't
enough, and it isn't being a responsible Netizen because of how Spam is a
parasite on the Internet.

Large scale Spam needs a strong response, and Spamcop provides that by
reporting Spam violations to ISPs aiding Spammers.  Where this feature becomes
a problem is in how easy it is to report Spam.  Plus, with Spamcop's new bulk
reporting interface in beta testing, errors in reporting and blacklisting will
probably increase over time if changes aren't made.  Julian is right, it may
happen again.

Keeping clean destinations like Politech off the blacklist is the issue you
and others have raised here, and in the press lately.  In addition, Julian's
answer, "I don't see what proactive action I can take. There is nothing wrong
with the system and it may well happen again. Sorry." seems hopeless and
ballistic.  Ballistic responses create walls and stir frustrations enough to
enable quests where something gets destroyed.  I sure hope that doesn't
happen, and I surely hope Julian considers how he responds.

In Spamcop's defense, getting blacklisted at least once will probably never go
away.  I'll also bet that most Spammers respond by saying, "No Spam has ever
been sent from the [enter-name] server. Nor was I notified when it was placed
on Spamcop's list again."  Because Spammers lie most often, it is easy to
become hardened to complaints like yours, but that is a human condition.

Having a system to notify Spammers that they are blacklisted isn't of much
value because most Spam is sent with forged headers and only sometimes is
there a telltale remnant available when the sending computer leaks its IP.
What could happen is to have a way to stay off a blacklist when another
Politech subscriber reports your messages as Spam.

What could go away with additional programming is how often innocent people
are punished.  Once someone is placed on a blacklist and qualifies for a
Whitelist entry, a provision that should be allowed and monitored, it would be
the safety net that keeps it from happening again.  Falling off a Whitelist
could also happen, if the Spam reporting goes beyond simple errors.

Another step that should be taken is to get away from large scale Spam
supporting ISPs, like Rackspace, at the earliest possible opportunity.  In my
case, I've gotten and reported so much Spam originating from Rackspace, that I
would not be surprised if all traffic from Rackspace were to be blocked.

Politech and Spamcop both play a very useful role on the Internet and it would
be a sad situation if a friendly solution to this weren't found.


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