Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Beware of SpamCop.net

An apparently  new spam filtering offering, SpamCop, may be shutting down your ability to do business by email, especially if you're one of their customers.   We've received 3 rejections in a single day of email sent to business associates who are SpamCop users.    

The problem?  SpamCop apparently operates on a trivially simple algorithm -- if there have been spam reports from your mail server's IP address, their clients' mailboxes block all your mail.  That's your mail server's hardware IP address, not your own mail address or even domain name.    

Trouble is, many small businesses don't host their own email.   In many cases their email server is provided along with web hosting, etc. from a commercial internet services provider (ISP).  Your mail server's IP address may be the same as 10, 20 or 100 other accounts, any of which might be used by someone sending spam or interpreted as sending spam.    

Nevertheless, once on SpamCop's blacklist it's hard to get off.   No doubt they're handling tens of millions of "unblock" requests, each of which may need human intervention.   

A far better solution is a more intelligent approach -- SpamArrest.com   SpamArrest uses a personalized algorithm that allows you to "whitelist" your entire address book as legitimate senders.   When it gets a message from an unknown email address, it bounces back a message to the sender, saying, in essence, "If you are a real person, click here and validate yourself, then we'll send your email through."  It also saves the "suspect" emails in a folder you can check occasionally and the "OK" new senders, in case the bounceback message gets ignored.   

So, if you're considering spam filtering alternatives, stay away from SpamCop.    What it will do is get in the way of a lot of email that you do want, in the name of reducing spam.   Look instead at SpamArrest, a filtering algorithm that not only makes more sense, but also works great and is easy to use.   
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Terry Weaver

Chief Executive Boards International
Chief Executive Boards International: Freedom for business owners & CEOs -- Less Work, More Money, More Freedom to enjoy it

1 comment:

  1. Whoa, slow down now!

    Yes, SpamCop has its flaws. I've had to dig my way out of being blocked by them a few times. It's painful and takes up to 24 hours... SpamCop is not "a new offering" though -- they've been around for many, many years (since 1998 according to Wikipedia). Also, most SpamCop "customers" are not the end-user businesses, but the actual ISPs who host your email service in the first place.

    As painful as being blocked by SpamCop might be, I implore you NOT to recommend services like SpamArrest. Asking unknown senders to verify themselves is ridiculous for all kinds of reasons, especially if you're a business. If I emailed a business and received a "verify your address by jumping through this hoop" message in return, I guarantee you that I would NEVER do business with that company again. Just because you have a problem managing your email doesn't mean you should inconvenience me. Every single person you don't know will become a false positive and many of them will either not jump through the hoops, will think you're an idiot, or both.

    A better solution for any business who is concerned about receiving too much spam is to find a better email hosting provider. Google's spam filter, driven by Postini, is pretty amazing at catching most spam while getting hardly any false positives. (No, I don't work for Google and no they're not the only decent email host...)

    For god's sake -- no matter what you decide to do or not do to fight spam -- do NOT use one of those whitelist verification providers!


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