Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The amazing AHBL / Godaddy pissing match

Very recently, my emails to a very good client of mine began to bounce.  Not too much in the way of error messages, except for an obscure code that indicated my email was somehow marked as a spam account.

A little more digging on the client side shows that my Godaddy mail server is blacklisted by the Abusive Hosts Black List - AHBL.  As far as I can tell right now, AHBL is the only one blacklisting GoDaddy email.

Why?  Well, most of the evidence points to what basically amounts to a pissing match between AHBL and GoDaddy.

In the red corner:  ABHL!  AHBL claims that GoDaddy is hosting a website that "uses abuse, harassment, and intimidation to conduct [it's] ‘business’."  They have asked GoDaddy to remove the site; GD refuses, violating their own terms of service.  AHBL claims they are standing up for "a growing trend that seems to indicate GoDaddy is turning a blind eye to abuse and spam".  On the flip side, AHBL states "there is nothing that GoDaddy _customers_ can do about this situation".

In the blue corner:  GoDaddy!  GD states "We take every complaint of abuse seriously, and do not allow spam or other forms of abuse to take place on our network."  They also say "The abuse department will continue to work towards a resolution with the parties involved." 

The latest published conversations on this occurred nearly two years ago.  Either nothing has changed, or the AHBL has found new reason to block GoDaddy's email domains.

Unfortunately, GD's only advice to their customers is to advise the recipient of the e-mail to stop using AHBL services.  Most senders are not in a position to tell the receiver what to do, and 99% of all email recipients will have no control over the blacklists used by their companies or ISPs.

But, really, what can GD do?  Should it be their policy that every time some blacklist company has an axe to grind that they meekly submit to demands?  That's usually called blackmail - hah, nice pun there - and if GD caves once, then they're at the mercy of all blacklist providers everywhere.

There is no way for the average Joe/Jane to know if AHBL is in the right or not.  Maybe they are, maybe not.  Maybe everything they say about GoDaddy is true, maybe not.  I'm sure many readers will hate GoDaddy just on principle, by reputation, or whatever, but there is really no evidence either way.  It's just a he said/she said situation.

It's just too bad that GoDaddy and AHBL can't work this out.  Really - two years later, and people are still having problems?  That probably points to a failure on both sides of the table.  Cruise and Holmes can work out a multimillion dollar custody divorce in two weeks, yet these companies can't work out a simple website hosting spat in two years.  Go figure.

The sore fact is that it's a business decision for GoDaddy.  They know they will lose some clients over this.  They probably do not care - they're pretty wildly successful anyway, and AHBL's actions are not enough to seriously dent the bottom line.  Would Apple or Google do anything different?  Who knows.


Given the chance, I would recommend that people avoid BOTH companies.  AHBL seems mired in controversy, which seems to follow a founding member around.  They have implemented a "shoot-on-sight" policy that attempts to follow suspected "bad people" around even if they change ISPs.  There are even some peripheral indications that AHBL is essentially a one-man show.

They (or he?) also have (has?) a clear vendetta against certain people going - not coincidentally, the same people involved in the GoDaddy spat.  Finally, the Free Speech Store does not show up on any Google search, and no server exists at that address - so one wonders just what the AHBL is blacklisting.

As there are other vendors out there, seemingly ones without personal agendas, vested interests, or other nonsense, perhaps AHBL is just best avoided.

As for GoDaddy, one could argue they are caught in the middle between AHBL and the Free Speech Store (i.e. between the controlling persons at these two sites). 

Still, there is no denying that GoDaddy email services can be seriously compromised by the AHBL stance, and two years on there seems to be no resolution to the matter.  Customers have no option but to switch providers, so why not avoid the whole mess in the first place and not sign up with GoDaddy?


(One wonders why GoDaddy just hasn't kicked the relatively-inactive? Free Speech Store out, losing 1 customer to save many, but that's for them to decide.)

Now, there seems to be nothing wrong with registering a doman with GoDaddy.  Hosting a domain at GoDaddy is a problem, and using GoDaddy-provided email services a lesser problem.  But registration?  No problem.

For myself this probably means I'll have to figure out how to forward everything through Gmail, or set up my own email services.  I already have a Linux box in the basement for web hosting, so I can but hope that setting it up to use

Of course, doing this, I'm moving yet another service away from a bought-and-paid-for service to a roll-and-support-yourself solution - moving external to internal, as it were.  And I really hate doing that.  I do not want to have to support my own email on top of everything else.

What a world.

4 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing this. A prospective client of mine is having exactly the same issue, and we are looking at moving to Google Apps to solve this, and other related issues.

    Jason {at} geekchicago {dot com}
    Geek | Chicago

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  2. I've been on Google Apps for about a half year, and it has been good to me so far. Apps is better in some ways and worse in others, but only in very minor ways.

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  3. Three years on Apps for me, and to complain about so far. I'm glad I made the switch.

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  4. I have read your article couple of times because your views are on my own for the most part. It is great content for every reader. godaddy workspace login

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