breaking my own rules

I’m doing a sort of experiment here of sorts. It’s pretty nerdy, so read the the next couple of lines and then call it quits if you like. There’s a link to an email address below; please click it and send me email. I’ll be happy and send you a friendly response back — IF you’re not a scum-sucking spammer or email-harvesting spam-enabler. Please briefly tell me who you are and how you got here if your name or email address is not one that I’ll recognize immediately on sight.

november18th2007@cliff1976.com

Okay, on with the nerd show!

I’m so pleased with the Bad Behavior plug-in for WordPress over the last day or so with regard to blocking comment-spam that I want to give it a real test-drive in the realm of harvester blocking as well. It’s supposed to prevent harvesters from sifting through my blog looking for email addresses to be collected and bombarded or sold for further bombardment.

That’s Part I.

Part II is in conjunction with my awesome hosting company, NearlyFreeSpeech, whose staunch policies about only accepting email from well-configured servers do a good job of cutting down on spam…so good, in fact, that occasionally legitimate mail from ill-configured servers is incorrectly flagged as spam and it never makes it to me. I’m talking about mail servers owned by organizations such as Google and my mom’s employer and my parents’ cable internet service provider at home.

It would seem that the world of server administrators is getting lazier and lazier every day. NearlyFreeSpeech.NET has identified that most spam comes from servers whose IP addresses fail a reverse-lookup test. Put simply, every computer on the internet sending email should be identifiable via both a name AND a number, and anyone should be able to ask what the corresponding name is for a given number, and vice-versa, and get corroborating answers to those questions.

It’s kind of like me saying to you,

Hey, I’m Cliff. Here’s my mobile number: (212) 555-1234.

and if you call that number, you expect me, and only me, to pick up (because it’s my cellie!).

If NearlyFreeSpeech.NET gets email addressed to me where the server’s number doesn’t match the name it’s reporting, they assume it’s spam and throw it away for me. This has worked great, except for the growing number of apparently legitimate server administrators who are too lazy to make sure their servers names corroborate their numbers. Apparently I’m not the only who’s been affected by this.

So, I’m beta-testing a hybrid email filtering service of theirs. They still prevent suspicious-looking emails from reaching my email inbox, but there will be a quarantine area where I can look to see what the spam traps have caught should I ever seem to be missing an important message (like from the car rental company sending us the confirmation about our rental in December). I would prefer that the rest of the world simply properly configure their email servers: that would totally preclude the need for a quarantine area or filter queue or whatever you want to call it. However, that is sounding less and less realistic over the years. I mean, even Google can’t consistently identify themselves on the internet!

Here’s the dirt on my little test: I want to see if Bad Behavior keeps the harvesters from finding the email address above and NearlyFreeSpeech.NET correctly allows messages from you, my loyal and non-spammy readership, to arrive at my inbox unencumbered by ideals of the 1980s, back when everyone pretty much trusted his cyber-neighbor to know his phone number.

Oh yeah, and I’ve disabled comments on this post. Just send me an email using the unmissable address above (click it or copy it into your favorite mail program), please. I may do a follow-up post here with comments enabled depending on how well this test goes. Thanks for helping with the test!

my darling clementines, some more anti-spam measures, and another H.P. book

It’s that time of year again. The rooves are snowy, the wind is blustery, and the apartment is filled with the scent of a freshly-peeled kilo of clementines. Clementines are about due for mid-November, but the snow and stuff was kind of surprise. Wonder what kind of a winter we’re in for. I’ve pretty much already resolved not to ride my bike to work for the remainder of the year given my 3-week post-op recovery period and our upcoming vacation.

On another note, I’d been trying to limit the amount of blogspam we deal with (Sarah’s efforts combined with mine spare you, our dear reader, from having to see all the ads about high-risk loans or getting out of debt in Colorado). The spam filter published by Joe Tan as a WordPress plugin just wasn’t getting the job done. I’ve installed “Bad Behavior” by Michael Hampton in parallel and so far it’s doing a bang-up job. I recommend other WordPress users try it.

Oh, and this morning I finished Harry Potter und die Kammer des Schreckens*, which I’d started while recovering in the hospital. Meh. I hope the next one is better.