Today's Pet Peeve: Spam Filters

Spam is annoying. Believe me, I know. We even made a game about it.

But if you want to get a reply from us, it really helps if you set your spam filter so that it won't reject or delete our e-mails. (And note that our e-mails go out through our ISP's SMTP server, not the domain.) This is especially true if you've given us no other contact information besides your e-mail address. Michelle has had five or six bounced vis sources release form acknowledgements due to spam filters this past month, for example.

We don't have the time to try and figure our way around peoples' clever anti-spam technologies, so most of the time we don't.


  1. Speaking as one of the people who got trapped by that (and is grateful for the efforts you put into getting around it) the problem with my account was because the ISP you're using has an open mail relay and is on at least one spamblocklist because of it.

    There are details at

    Is it possible that some of the other mails which failed are because of the same reason? I don't actually have anti-spam filters on my email account; any blocking which is done is done so by my ISP, though lists like the above.

    Having said that, putting a second mode of contact into my email would also have been a good idea, as you suggest.


    John Scott

  2. I've sent a note to our ISP -- but note that the page you linked to specifies that the open relay was found on December 2nd, and has not been tested for since then. (I did push the "schedule to re-test" button, but I don't know how long they'll take.) So if for example it had an open relay during some kind of system overhaul or maintenance or something at our ISP, they've been bouncing all mail from this SMTP server for nearly two months.

    The link the anti-spam page has is also slightly outdated -- it goes to a page that auto-forwards to another web page after a delay.

    I suppose it's possible that our ISP is not on the ball and is running an insecure mail server. However, I know that last year they went through some trouble blocking SMTP port service from their subscribers (so I can't run an SMTP server right on one of our office machines), as a measure to block trojans and the like. I would be surprised if they really do have open relays, but I'm not knowledgeable enough to test it myself.

  3. Just to follow up, I heard back from our ISP. They confirm, as I expected, that "it is not now nor has it ever been a open relay." They add, "it gets that way because of DSL users who get infected computers." They went on to test it, and got a report of a clean bill of health.

  4. Again, thank you for your efforts.