Blacklist Curation

To start, let me welcome you to the new blog.  Same content, better format!

Today’s topic is about curating the blacklists we search and how our experts decide to select a blacklist to be included on our site.

First, our experts in email deliverability look at what blacklists are being used by actual mail service providers, internet service providers and medium and large companies as part of their anti-spam filters.  Chances are good that if we list it, someone is using it to block spam somewhere.

Second, we require that there is some form of free delisting.  While the blacklist may have an express delisting fee or some other fee or donation associated with it, all our blacklists have a method of freely delisting your IP address or domain.  This may be a painfully long automatic delisting, but it’s still free.

Note:  Automated delisting is becoming more popular as delisting requests require significant oversight.  The idea behind automated delisting is that repeated issues are a sign of a repeated problem.  Delisting occurs typically when the issue for which the IP or domain was listed has not occurred in a certain amount of time, often proportional to the time the issue did occur.  Protected Sky is an example of a blacklist with an automated delisting.  Patience is required with these.

Finally, we look at relevance to our customers.  There are many blacklists out there, but are they in use?  Are they active?  Do they overlap other blacklists?  Are they limited to regional email traffic?

While we look at relevance to our customers, and where are customers are, the biggest test of relevance for your email is this:  Are you experiencing bounced email and on a blacklist? If you are experiencing bounces and on a blacklist we don’t support, let us know.  We will work to get add the blacklist if it is publicly available.  If you are on a blacklist we curate and not experiencing bounces, congratulations!  That means none of your customers or partners are using that blacklist as a spam filter.

At any time, if you have questions or comments about our blacklist curation, please email feedback@mxtoolbox.com

Deprecation of SPFBL DNSBL

We’re always happy to investigate new blacklists to see how they work for our customers and how they provide additional information on our customers’ email deliverability.  If anyone ever has a blacklist that they suggest we add, please email us.

Over the last few weeks, we’ve given SPFBL, a Brazilian-based DNS Blacklist, a trial here at MxToolbox.  Like all new Blacklists, our trip included display of results with low severity.  However, during the trial we noted that the majority of customers reporting issues with this blacklist were due to simple, and routine reverse DNS issues.  For example, reverse DNS might point to a 3rd party load balancer application, which in no way should break email delivery.

Since this is the case, we’ve decided to suspend use of SPFBL until utility of the list changes.

PagerDuty is now integrated

Many of our customers over the last few months have requested that MxToolbox support PagerDuty as a notification mechanism.  We listen!  The most critical factor in determining what we build at MxToolbox comes from users like you. If you have any feedback on how we can improve our tools or monitoring please let us know.

We’re happy to announce that the integration is complete and ready to use!  PagerDuty integration is included in all paid monitoring subscriptions from the Basic Plan and up.

Free Users

Upgrade today to get access to more monitors and PagerDuty!

Paid Users

To integrate your PagerDuty account with MxToolbox simply head over to your alert notification policy. From there, scroll down until you notice the “Alert with PagerDuty” section and follow the link over to PagerDuty to authorize the integration. You will then be redirected back to MxToolbox on success.

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Protected Sky Delisting

Recently, we’ve received a number of enquiries about delisting with Protected Sky.  For the last week or so, Protected Sky has had a maintenance notice reminding users that delisting is not available.  Over the weekend, they added another announcement:

Automatic removal will occur for IPs that are seen to be clean

MxToolbox Support is currently trying to contact Protected Sky for clarification, but we have an operating theory.  Currently, we believe this to mean that they have a system in place to automatically delist an IP address if it is not captured in one of their spam traps or reported by one of their customers as spam.

Once we have confirmation or update from Protected Sky, we will update this post with more information.

Are blacklists legal, ethical, etc?

Blacklists came about as a response to unethical and illegal spam.  Blacklists have no other purpose but to stop bad or malicious acts, so they typically occupy the ethical high ground. Since they are used by businesses, universities and internet service providers to screen traffic, they are incented to be ethical, list only known bad actors and not list legitimate commercial traffic.  To do otherwise would undermine the value of their service to their own customers.

All that said, MxToolbox carefully curates a list of the most used and best maintained blacklists.  All the blacklists we check provide free delisting services.  We feel that requiring payment for delisting is not ethical.  However, a few blacklists offer expedited delisting services, which is a bit of a grey area.  Other blacklists may ask strange or seemingly random questions.  Think of this as geeks being geeks, rather than anything malicious or unethical.