According to spammers, the folks who run RBLs (Real Time Blackhole Lists) are terrorists lurking in the shadows, pouncing on unsuspecting small internet merchants, and blocking the IP addresses of entire continents at the drop of a hat. That just isn’t true, but it also doesn’t mean that RBLs won’t ever need some checks and balances either.
After reading this post from Slashdot, and scouring the comments, I came to a conclusion. RBLs may need some help now and again, and maybe they are a little too aggressive at times, but “democracy” generally prevails. In addition, a number of commentors at both Slashdot and NANAE noted that the poster was likely a spammer complaining about getting squashed by MAPS. That is something that shouldn’t be ruled out.
According to the majority, RBLs are better than the alternative, which is unbridled spam. The innocent will just have to deal with it until a better solution presents itself.
The incident mentioned over at Slashdot does bring up some questions, at least for me. Services such as MAPS/Kelkea are for-profit enterprises. They have a vested interest in keeping spam from hitting their subscribers’ databases. So, the bigger the database of IP adddresses, the better. With more than 1.5 billion addresses in their collection, Kelkea could be prone to error. And the more addresses they gather, the bigger the errors are going to become. Is it Kelkea’s responsibility to serve clean information to their customers, or is it an ISP’s responsibility to notify customers that the IP address they were just given could have been used by a spammer years back (and therefore could be subject to some blocking)?
Without some check of those records, and the records other blacklists and greylists, we may never know. In the meantime, small merchants and webmasters should make sure their IPs are whitelisted with the major ISPs, just in case.