If you've recently sent me e-mail expecting a reply, and you didn't get one, a possible reason is that your mail host is blocking my mail server.
Yes, it seems that my domain, vquill.com, has shown up on the self-proclaimed Mail Abuse Prevention System Realtime Blackhole List (MAPS RBL). MAPS, of Redwood City, Calif. - why are there so many kooks in Redwood City? - claims to provide ". . . spam prevention resources to Internet computer systems administrators and end users." They do this by selling subscriptions to the RBL. The RBL is described as ". . . a system for creating intentional network outages for the purpose of limiting the transport of known-to-be-unwanted mass e-mail." That is, it's a list of sites you should block.
According to MAPS, the RBL only lists "IP addresses that are known to have generated spam or unsolicited commercial e-mail, or provide spam support services." Vquill.com and its IP address of 188.8.131.52 have never done either of these things. I don't send spam, I don't support spam, and I don't condone spam. Yet my site is listed by the cyber-zealots at MAPS.
Why, you may ask - and I did. It turns out that MAPS is having a dispute with the service which hosts my Web server, my Internet Presence Provider, Media3.net. I've been a customer of theirs for more than four years, with very little trouble. Media3 hosts more than 1,200 Web sites and does so very well.
Checking MAPS' reference, I find that someone named Steve Linford at The Spamhaus Project complained that Media3 had blocked his incessant e-mails to their abuse site. Linford wanted to complain about legitimate, legal businesses using Web servers at Media3 to sell products. Because Media3 wouldn't throw out these so-called "spam supporters," Linford asked his buddies at MAPS to block hundreds of Media3-administered Web sites. MAPS agreed, and vquill.com was subsequently blocked.
An exchange of e-mail with MAPS brought the suggestion that I switch providers. I'm sorry, but I've never been one to give in to blackmail.
Find out if your mail provider is using the RBL services of the cyber-goons at MAPS, and if so - protest loudly. Don't let someone else decide what mail you can or cannot receive. And let MAPS know (at firstname.lastname@example.org) exactly what you think of storm trooper tactics.
Kearns, a former network administrator, is a freelance writer and consultant in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at email@example.com.