Starting yesterday, 16 December 2010, Yahoo decided to return all 276 E-mail Editions sent to our subscribers who signed up with a Yahoo e-mail address.
In the past, we would receive returned messages because we are part of Yahoo’s “spam feedback loop”. This means that if someone labeled the E-mail Edition as junk, we would be notified. We would then promptly remove their e-mail address from the mailing list.
In addition, we received other detailed error messages from Yahoo explaining the reason why our E-mail Edition was rejected for a particular address.
This time, we got: “554 Content not allowed ”.
Upon looking into this, we found the following page:
“If you receive an SMTP error or bounce message containing the text string
“UP Email not accepted for policy reasons. Please visit http://help.yahoo.com/help/us/mail/defer/defer-04.html
“There is something about the message contents that Yahoo! Mail will not accept for policy reasons. For instance, it is against Yahoo! Mail’s policy to send phishing/fraud attempts or viruses. If you feel you have received this error for a message that should be accepted, we encourage you to provide us with detailed information about the rejected message.”
Well, first of all, let us emphatically state that Sott.net has never been the source of phishing/fraud attempts or viruses or trojans – especially via e-mail. Yes, we have been the target of DNS cache poisoning attacks so that it looked like we were the source of malware, but that content came from another server to which the domain name “www.sott.net” was temporarily redirected behind the scenes. DNS cache poisoning attacks are seriously evil because they make your readers believe that your web site has been hacked and is spewing trojans and other malware, when in fact nothing could be further from the truth.
In any case, clicking Yahoo’s “Please visit…” link above takes one to a search page that is totally useless. We have taken the liberty of providing them with detailed information about the rejected message. It’s important to note that we’ve done that before, and never received a response. In fact, it seems that with Yahoo, all we do is fill out more and more forms to make sure the SOTT E-mail Edition gets to subscribers, whereas other mail providers such as Hotmail and Gmail have no problems whatsoever with the E-mail Edition.
In any case, since they encouraged us to provide detailed information about the rejected E-mail Edition, we once again dutifully filled out the form, and added the following in the comment box:
“We have an unsubscribe button on every newsletter, so the answer to the above question of how long it takes for subscribers to be removed is “instantly” [the smallest time increment available in the pulldown menu was “1 week”, which is obscenely long]. We also employ SenderID, DomainKeys, Hashcash headers, and the SpamAssassin score for our newsletters is generally far less than 1. We are also already signed up for your spam feedback loop program.
“In any case, the problem we are seeing is ‘554: content not allowed’, which apparently means, ‘UP Email not accepted for policy reasons.’
“That’s nice, but other services like Gmail and Hotmail have no problem with our newsletter, and we send a similar volume of e-mail to each of them.
“Can you kindly explain to me exactly what these ‘policy reasons’ are? I’m most curious!”
Now, if you’ve ever tried to send bulk e-mails to subscribers from your own server, you know how hard it can be. There are a lot of things one must do to ensure delivery of bulk e-mail, including tricks to make sure it is not labeled as spam. But the fact is, since the format of the E-mail Edition changed with the recent site upgrade, every single other mail server is perfectly happy with the e-mails we send. Bounced messages and spam problems have dropped to literally 0.
This is the point: We’ve used all the tricks, we’ve been filling in all the forms and doing all the ‘whitelisting’ and all the fancy anti-spam headers and all that for years now – including a recent update that squashed any remaining bugs – and every other mail provider out there is perfectly content with the E-mail Edition today. So why isn’t Yahoo?
Understand that when we say we “squashed the remaining bugs” in the E-mail Edition, we’re talking about days spent combing through the rules that server software like SpamAssassin uses to label e-mails as spam. We’re talking about ensuring that we weren’t doing anything to compromise the E-mail Edition. To say we did our homework is understating the matter considerably.
And so, if Yahoo really is that bad that they can’t get their stuff together and make a mail system that works, then maybe people shouldn’t use them. If the E-mail Edition is being blocked, a whole lot of other e-mails are as well – or there is some kind of “filtering” going on where you no longer get to choose what you read.
Whether Yahoo is censoring based on evilness or incompetence, it’s still censoring. Either way, do you really want a Yahoo e-mail account?
But wait, it gets better!
In the past 6 months or so, our server’s IP address block was blacklisted, and other mail servers started rejecting the E-mail Edition as well. In contrast, Yahoo accepted the E-mail Edition without a problem during those time periods. Since Sott.net was not the source of the spam, our hosting company clobbered the other spammers in our IP block, got the block delisted pretty quickly, and we were back in business. Right now, we are not listed as a spammer on any blacklist.
And really, stop and think about that for a minute: 1 or 2 IP addresses similar to our own are sending spam. Instead of blocking the IP addresses of those specific offending servers, they blacklist an entire block of IPs and take down a bunch of innocent bystanders as well. Talk about ‘collateral damage’! And this is standard practice! Maybe Yahoo have been taking lesson from the US military? In any case,does that sound like an intelligent, logical way of dealing with spam? Or does it sound like a neat way to censor certain servers that send mail? Fortunately, our particular hosting company is on the ball, and they were very helpful.
All of this leads us to an interesting question: Why would Yahoo block the SOTT E-mail Edition?
Perhaps Yahoo doesn’t like the word “wikileaks” in bulk e-mails?
We have been covering the Wikileaks topic rather thoroughly lately. And today, we have this item:
“The WikiLeaks affair has become a major dramatic story line on the stage of the global mass media. It’s very much like the launch of a new television series. We’ve got a dramatic personality at the center, seen by some as a super hero and others as a super demon, who is able to reveal a million secrets at a single bound. We’ve got increasing dramatic tension, as the attack alarms ring, the secrets keep coming out, and… nothing decisive is being done. Something must be done! That’s clearly where this story line is leading.
“By doing nothing decisive, and with Assange out on bail, the message between the lines is that new legislation is needed. Perhaps new legislation is already being discussed; I haven’t been following that part of the story. But as the dramatic tension mounts in the media, so that it becomes ‘obvious’ that something must be done, we can be sure we will end up with a draconian Cyber Terrorism Act, akin to the Domestic Terrorism Act.
“Clearly, the provisions of this act will be very far-reaching. That has been the consistent pattern with each of our various ‘terrorism’ acts. Currently, anyone can be arbitrarily declared a domestic terrorist, and be locked up forever incommunicado. That hasn’t been happening on any significant scale, yet, but the provisions are that far reaching.
“Similarly, in a Cyber Terrorism Act, we’ll get a provision that any website can be arbitrarily declared ‘in aid of terrorism’, closed down, and anyone involved with it can be treated as a domestic terrorist. The Act will be that far-reaching, but we probably won’t see a lot of such closures happening. Instead, we’ll get hit in more subtle ways. Websites will simply be seized, without fanfare, and that’s already been happening, under the logo of Homeland Security.“
Sadly, we have to agree that it looks like this is where we’re heading.
If Sott.net is shut down, or our e-mail is blocked, or the site is “hacked”, you can be 99.9% sure that it wasn’t negligence on our part.
And as for Yahoo, we anxiously await a response, but we aren’t holding our collective breath.
We have to wonder what would happen if everyone decided to close their Yahoo mail accounts? If this is all just a big misunderstanding because Yahoo’s mail service just isn’t very well done, then they would definitely sit up and take notice when people started flocking to other mail providers. And if it is a case of malicious censorship, well… What a lovely way to make your voice heard!
Either way, we win.