Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

When blacklists go wrong

I’ve been having a brief email conversation with the owner of SERPs, a website about a competition orginating from the newsgroup on Usenet. The site looks innocent enough, but it turns out the URL got onto Mark Carey’s Blog Spam Database after the owner made what he claims was an on-topic post to one of Mark Carey’s entries. A quick Google search over Mark’s site would suggest this was the case as I came across a couple of entries where posting this URL would have perhaps been appropriate.
I’ve removed the URL and its .com variant as a result, but it underlines the major problem with blacklists – if an innocent domain gets caught in the crossfire it can make things really difficult. Ask any email publisher what they think about email blacklists like SpamCop and you’ll probably get a general thumbs-down, since legitimate sites can get into the blacklist far too easily.
It’s therefore perhaps best to double-check what you’re importing. If I remember correctly Jay Allen does have some method of checking sites first, so the master blacklist should still be alright, but you may like to think twice before importing other people’s lists.


  1. You make a good point in this entry. It is very important to double-check the entries that you import from others. I have noticed a couple of common words sneak into my blacklist because I didn’t check them carefully.
    In this case, as you correctly indicated, the owner of the site posted seevral comments with sole intent on increases PR and rankings as part of the competition you mentioned. While that was within the “no rules” guidelines of the competition, I am sure that most bloggers didn’t want their blogs getting clogged with comment spam as result. So I listed this URL, and another one (the owner of which apparently engaged in a broad scale spam campaign for the competition). Now that the competition is over, I have removed the domain from the database. Hoefully the lesson will be learned though: when you spam – even if it is just for fun – you risk getting yourself on blacklists. 🙂

  2. With respect,
    I posted ONCE to your blog using the original URL.
    It was an informative post, which was on-topic for your blog in question.
    I then posted a polite reply to your comments section using another URL.
    Just because I didn’t use my real name, and used the keyword as my nickname you classed it as spamming. I rarely post my real name on the internet, and tend to addopt different nicknames quite frequently, it seems sensible to use the keyword as my nickname and also set it up as my email address. I could then send all emails to that address to a seperate inbox.
    You say I engaged in a “broad scale spam campaign” this is totally false, it is a tactic I have avoided. I think you must be confusing me with another competitor.
    I posted to probably 3 or 4 blogs at the most;
    Jimsworld and webmasterworld where the posts were on-topic for the groups. I also wrote to about a dozen webmasters who I believed may be interested in the competition informing them about it and asking for a link.
    This resulted in 4 or 5 replies plus links appearing on other peoples sites.
    2 or 3 of these people had blogs or wikki’s,
    which I asked if it was ok to post to.
    One of the webmasters in question was Jason at Kottke (in my opinion one of the better blogs)this
    led to my link being spread around quite a bit.
    Admitidly, on the first day of the competition I posted to 2 or 3 guestbooks, but these were polite postings and I also emailed the webmasters.
    If posting information like this ois classed as spamming, what is the point of blogs?
    I see them as a way of sharing ingformation and expressing views on topics.
    If people don’t want comments why do they have a comments section?