j tan()JTAN

JTAN Anti-Spam Blocking Policy

If you are reading this web page, it is probably because you received a bounce message telling you that your email was not being accepted, and to visit this JTAN website. If you are totally blocked and need to get in touch with us, you can use the several methods to contact us shown on our contact page, like the form, that do not require working email. But do read this document fully and consider what you can do to support our efforts to fight spam before you ask for our attention.

We block any SMTP server with an incompletely or improperly named IP address.

Specifically, if the reverse and forward name of an SMTP server's IP address don't match, or if we see a reverse DNS hostname for a sending relay that looks like an unconfigured DSL/Cable host (e.g. adsl-192-168-1-123.someisp.com) we will reject it. If your mail server has no reverse name (or the lookup times out) we will temporarily reject the mail, forcing it to be delayed and tried later. Check your SMTP relay IP here if you know it.

I'm not technical. I don't know what this all means.

We're afraid that some technical understanding is necessary in order to manage an SMTP server, but you should be able to get tech support from your ISP or local IT support person. Contact them. They should have have the knowlege to understand the explanations here suggesting why JTAN may have blocked their SMTP server, and they should be able to accept responsibility and fix any lack of due dillegence on their part. Don't let them off the hook.

I am technical. I don't know what this all means.

The first step in the investigation process is to determine the IP address from which you are sending us mail. Without this information, it's near impossible to figure out why you had trouble.

If you are unsure of the IP address or fully qualified domain name of your sending relay, please check with your ISP. They can help you find it out. Be careful. Your sending relay may not be your outgoing SMTP server and it may not be the IP address of your PC. We need the numeric IP address of the server that sends your mail to us.

Once you know the IP of your sending SMTP server, look up the hostname. If the hostname is just a bunch of numbers, we will probably block it. What you need to do is give it a proper name. When you do, we will accept your mail.

I don't feel like configuring my DNS or SMTP server. Can't you just whitelist me?

I'm sorry. No.

Almost any sender can either A) use their ISP's outgoing SMTP server, or B) have their ISP set their reverse DNS name to match a domain based forward name. If you have a static IP, it is doubly important to configure your DNS hostname.

If the sender has an unconfigured or partially configured DNS name, for us to consider any action at all, the sender needs to show cause why they are unable to comply with either of these very reasonable requirements we are suggesting above.

These days, JTAN believes that it's part of the due diligence in running a responsible outgoing mail machine to have a fully configured DNS name (option B). But if the sender cannot run a proper outgoing server DNS, they can use the server that his ISP provides (option A), which no doubt is configured with a distinctive and matching forward/reverse name.

Surely a right-thinking sender (and sender's ISP) will want to cooperate. They will join us in the fight against spam and configure their sending relay so that it is easy for everyone (not just JTAN) to distinguish from the millions of zombie PC's sending spam from DSL/Cable addresses. I can't imagine why anyone running a legitimate mail server wouldn't want to do this.

Yes, we understand that there's no RFC that requires mail senders to have configured or consistent hostnames. And yes, we understand that blocking a host on this basis violates the spirit of the design of SMTP. And also yes, we understand that this policy isn't the Final Ultimate Solution to the Spam Problem. All that understood, we hope senders understand that JTAN's back is against the wall. We devote a lot of resources -- time, money, lives -- to the fight against spam. We can't do it all alone. Senders have responsibilities too. Configuring your hostname is the very least you can do.

How does a sender configure their mail systems?

If you need help configuring reverse DNS or using your ISP's SMTP server, contact your ISP or IT department. We an JTAN cannot help you with these tasks. It's your ISP's job to help you.

I used to get mail from these people ALL the time. it has only been recently that this bouncing has been occurring

JTAN has had this policy for quite a long time. Maybe something broke at the sender's ISP that needs to be fixed. They should be happy to learn about it.

I would like to continue to use JTAN but if this continues, I may have to look other places for hosting.

We fully understand. Honest. When we implemented this policy, we knew that some customers would leave us. If that's what you decide, so be it. But please do understand that we not asking for anything unusual or difficult from senders. Senders should want to fix this problem. Still, we realize that some won't budge. Unfortunately, we were forced into this policy change as a way to defend against spam. In a sense, we had to choose between losing all our customers when spam bankrupted us, or losing just the few that wouln't accept the change.

Our hostname is OK. I really think something is wrong.

If you know your sending IP, and you know it's a fixed IP with configured reverse DNS that doesn't scream DSL/Cable, and you really believe that it is rejected or otherwise mishandled by JTAN, then you may report an example problem mail message to us (or even have your ISP report it) to arrange for a full investigation of the problem.

I don't know the IP of the host that relays you my mail

If you don't know, your ISP does. Trust me, they do. And if you ask them, they should be able to tell you. However, we do understand how difficult it can be to get a precise technical question answered with some ISPs, especially the big Cable ISPs. Often they misunderstand this question, thinking you want a SMTP server to configure your PC with, or they tell you something irrelevant, like to reinstall Windows.

There is an alternative if you have honestly tried to figure out (or ask your ISP) for the IP that is sending us mail, and have failed. You can send a test message to be blocked. Carefully recording the time it was sent accurate to the second. Tell us this exact time, along with its timezone (including any savings time), a copy of the mail sent (with headers), and a copy of the bounce message. Fill out this form. Given this information, we can sometimes look in our logs and find the blocked test message and see what IP it came from, assuming there aren't too many messages being blocked from your ISP in that particular second.

Yes, the reason we need exact time is because we sometimes receive up to 100 mail messages per second (average is more like 2-3) and about 80-90% of those are blocked. Your blocked message can be a needle in a haystack. Without the exact time -- to the second -- and the other contextual information, we will never find it.

I'm a JTAN customer and a VIP trying to send mail to me was blocked. I'm embarrased to ask for their cooperation

This can be a very sensitive situation. We understand. Maybe an important customer is trying to send you an order that we blocked. Or maybe an older friend or family member was blocked. You don't want to tell them anything is wrong on their end. You can't ask them to figure out their IP or talk to their ISP. They might be indignant about being rejected, or maybe they are unskilled and incapable of helping. We realize the embarrassment and difficulty this can cause.

SPAM is a terrible thing. It is ruining email. And our need to enact Draconian restrictions on hostnames is an example of how bad things have become. We fully realize the disadvantages of this policy.

What are some other reasons my mail could be blocked? Do you use Black Hole lists?

Another common reason for blocking is that the mail is not RFC822 or RFC2822 compliant. There's no excuse if this is the case. Fix your mail format.

We may also block individual sending IP addresses that have sent us large quantities of SPAM. We do this in self defense in order to survive. Spam messages now outnumber legitimate mail by a large factor. The cost of processing SPAM is immense and would quickly bankrupt us if we were forced to accept it all.

JTAN's blocking policy is in accordance with the the Best Practices for ISPs and Anti-Spam Services proposed by the EFF. Specifically, we block messages only when the sender has demonstrated directly to us that they are sending us illegal spam, or when they refuse to do even the most basic configuration to distinguish their sending relay from a zombie PC. We do not block based on the content of messages, lack of pre-approval, or third party block lists.

Mistakes still can happen. If you feel you have been blocked unfairly, please contact us immediately.

What is SPAM Anyway?

If you don't know what SPAM is, here are some commonly accepted definitions:

Webster's Dictionary: http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=spam
Mail Abuse Prevention System (MAPS): http://www.mail-abuse.org/standard.html
Crynwr.com Spam Definition Document: http://www.crynwr.com/spam/definition.html
Monkey.com's 'Spam Defined' Document: http://www.monkeys.com/spam-defined/

We sincerely apologize to any legitimate email sender who is inconvenienced as a result of our anti-spam measures. Please don't blame us. We are victims too. We are only acting in self defense. We think it unfortunate that a few greedy individuals feel that it's acceptable to make a profit out of hurting millions of other people. Again, we are sorry that your address has been blocked.

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