Dear John Milton Fogg,
Some email providers have filters that block mail that they perceive
as spam, or refer it automatically to a "bulk" mail folder. For
example, two of the most popular web-based providers - Yahoo! and
Hotmail do that.
Mail does not originate from a "domain name", but from a certain IP
(Internet Protocol) address, which sits on a certain server. This IP
might be blocked by spam filters (or otherwise not reach its
How do they identify you as "spam"?
There are several ways, in which sites are identified as spam. First,
there are several blacklists of servers or sites, from which spam
originated. Second, a more modernised way to fight spam, are
mechanised spam filters, that screen and block what they identify as
I am not going to discuss the technical details of spam blockers (if
you're interested in the technical details, look at:
Spam Assassin Breakdown
<http://answers.google.com/answers/threadview?id=287836>). Paul Graham
also wrote a helpful article in this aspect:
Paul Graham, "A Plan for Spam", August 2002.
However, there are few basic things that a marketer should know about
the spam filters. Many of them identify spam because of language
patterns. That means, that words such as "MLM" could be screened out.
In addition, naturally, mail that is sent is bulk is raising
Is it possible that your site was wrongly identified as spam?
It is not rare, that innocent marketers are accused of spam, despite
sending their mail only by solicitation. Because of the structure of
your specific site, I am not also sure you could control anyone who
sends mail "on behalf" of your site. Though you prohibited spam in
yoru site, it doesn't mean that everyone complies.
The (possible) language patterns of your emails, the fact that you
send bulk mail, and the fact that you have no complete control on
everyone who are "peers" on your network, all suggest that you might
be suspectible to spam filters.
How to check it
Spam Cop has a system of black-listing sites. You could check if you
have been listed at :
SpamCop Blocking List
A check for your IP (22.214.171.124) revealed no blocking or black
listing by their system.
It is also not on SPEWS <http://spews.org/ask.cgi?x=126.96.36.199>.
Their newsgroups - news.admin.net-abuse.* - also doesn't list you,
which is very good news for a site operating as long as yours.
Searching Google Groups (http://groups.google.com) for the name of
your site, limiting it only to those groups on news.admin.net-abuse.*
did not reveal any specific spam report.
Another blacklist were your site was not found is the Better Ethics
Online list <http://free.hostdepartment.com/b/beonline/better-ethics-online/index.html>.
I did find some occurences where the site's name appeared in spams:
Forum OpenACS Q&A: Security: Hacker sends Viruses
A more recent report (2003):
[nznog] spammer in our mist ( Palmerston North based )
This could mean that the problem is (probably) not that someone
reported your email as spam or complained of you, but that the filters
recognise your email as spam.
Another possibility is that your email address has been spoofed. That
means, that the name(s) "greatestnetworker/s.com" were forged by
someone who was sending spam, so it would look as if it had originated
from your site.
A last possibility - and back to the spam blocker blacklists - a
blacklisting service called Osirusoft went out of business recently.
Many innocent mails sent to users who still used Osirusoft were
wrongly identified as spam.
What to do
It really depends on the cause of the problem.
First, if someone sends you an email that supposedly originated from
your site, ask them to provide you with full headers of the mail. Each
email as full headers that provide us more information than just who
sent it and to whom: it shows us the route it went through, the
different servers, and might reveal if someone is spoofing your email
Second, if some of your subscribers are using Osirusoft, it could be
possible that they need to switch their filter.
In addition, if the problem is with certain provider(s), you might
want to contact them directly. Since your IP might be blocked, try to
contact them through phone hotlines, or open a temporary email address
in a free service, such as Hotmail or Yahoo!.
Check with Qwest, if anything you or they have done might have caused
it the fact that some of your mails are being rejected or blocked. If
they present complaints, deal with those complaints as mentioned
before, and make sure your anti-spam policy is in fact enforced and
enacted against any violation.
Because of the hoards of worms and viri that attacks, it is also quiet
possible that you - or someone in your lists - has a worm that causes
the blocking of your email. It is quiet possible that your IP is
wrongly identified here, and this should be explained, again to ISPs
and recepients. Of coruse, check and update your virus definitions.
Especially, check for the latest, "Sasser" virus.
Resources for marketers
Spam Cop advices
University of Houston: UH Email Temporarily Blocked By AOL
<http://www.uh.edu/infotech/news/story.php?story_id=726> - as you can
see, this is pretty common. The only way to deal with it is to contact
the email provider, and to monitor viri and
FAQ Entry: Why is my email blocked?
Why Am I Blocked? FAQ, Please read before posting
I hope this answers your question. Please contact me if you need any
clarification on this answer before you rate it.
- email blocked
- spam filters