I dislike banning. I dislike blacklists based on proxy, domain, IP address, and keyword. No matter how sophisticated the applications that support blacklisting and no matter how good intentioned the sites doing the banning, someone innocent always gets hurt.
My favorite banning story so far is from Jonas Luster’s weblog where he talks about showing some law enforcement people WordPress, only to discover that the San Diego Police Department was on the Real-Time Spam Blacklist. My less than favorite banning story was when the dedicated server I was leasing ended up on SPEWS–another blacklist.
A current favorite now is to ban comments or trackbacks that come in through open proxies, since comment spammers use these to post comments. Unfortunately, open proxies can be found at libraries and schools, and have even been used to route around censorship in countries like China.
I wouldn’t be as critical of blacklisting if it weren’t for one thing: once you’re listed, it can become almost impossible to get de-listed. Most of the blacklisting organizations assume you’re guilty until proven innocent, and you almost have to have an act of Congress to be proven innocent. Well, since our sites aren’t hooked up to a feeding tube, the latter is unlikely to happen. Then you go through weeks, months, even years, trying to get your site cleared so you can send email or post comments.
It would seem that Google also fits in the guilty until proved innocent camp. Karl Martino from paradox1x wrote the following last week:
Help me please – PhillyFuture was probably banned from Google
I’ve had the domain back for one year. Googlebot has not come to index the site. After exhausting all other reasons I suspect that Google banned phillyfuture.org from it’s index. Remember – the preceeding year a porn company had it and was using it for redirection.
If anyone out there can help me – please – please do.
(Philly Future is Karl’s excellent community weblog and site for Philadelpha weblogs.)
Come on Google, a whole year to fix a problem? What do we have to do, use comment spam to get it listed?
(Thanks to Rogi for pointing this out, which also reminded me to update my subscription at Bloglines to the correct feed at Karl’s. Oh, and I did the background graphics, and thanks for the compliment, Rogi!)