Guest blogged by Winter Patriot
LATE UPDATE: Since the following item was posted, we have seen a drastic change in the behavior of email filtering for both Comcast and users of other email services. We do not know what was causing the problem, or why the symptoms have disappeared. We may be forgiven, I suppose, if we suspect the rapid change of status had something to do with the amount of noise generated over this issue. Thanks to you, the blogosphere is working. And we will post further updates if and when we learn more. Thanks again to all who have contributed to the effort.
We no longer need readers to perform the tests described below. But if you wish to do them for your own interest, we have no desire to stop you
UPDATE: After the following speculative item was somewhat tentatively posted, we have been able to confirm reports of emails being blocked by other ISPs as well as Comcast. We'll post more when we know more.
In the meantime, please try the tests described below, regardless of your e-mail provider, so we can get some sense of the scope of the problem. Thank you very much, as always.
Five weeks ago The BRAD BLOG ran a report indicating that Comcast, the nation's most popular email provider, was automatically deleting emails containing the web address "www.afterdowningstreet.org". Shortly after the report was published, 6 or 7 people made such a commotion that the problem was suddenly fixed. Various explanations were given, none of which cut any ice in the opinion of this lowly and nearly frozen blogger, but at least the problem went away.
Why am I telling you this? Background info. Today we have received a report indicating that something similar is happening again, but this time the address that triggers Comcast's automatic deletion is "www.meetwithcindy.org".
Personally, I do not have Comcast service, nor do I know anyone who does. So I cannot test this report for myself. I can ask for a bit of help, though. If you are a Comcast subscriber, please help us out by doing the following simple test.
Are you with me so far? I want you to send yourself four emails and tell me how many actually arrive. The four emails will be very simple, as described below:
- one with "www.meetwithcindy.org" in the subject line, and the words "test #1" in the body
- one with "meetwithcindy.org" in the subject line, and the words "test #2" in the body
- one with "www.meetwithcindy.org" in the body, and the words "test #3" in the subject line
- one with "meetwithcindy.org" in the body, and the words "test #4" in the subject line
Send these messages, wait a little while, then check for incoming messages and find out for yourself. According to our source, you will receive "test #4" but not "test #3". Apparently the "www." prefix is necessary to trigger the automatic deletion. If this makes no sense to you, please recall that in the previous episode, the address in question, "afterdowningstreet.org", triggered the automatic deletion only if it carried this prefix. In other words, emails containing "afterdowningstreet.org" passed through cleanly, while those containing "www.afterdowningstreet.org" were dispatched to the nearest black hole.
Most of the time the prefix "www." is insignificant; but apparently the prefix is very important in this case. But we don't know for sure, and that's why we're asking you to do some testing.
We don't know what to expect regarding tests #1 and #2. That's why we're asking you to perform them. After we collect more information, we can take it to Comcast and request a correction in their software --- or in their censorship policy, as the case may be. The more information we can present, the better it will be --- not only for us, but also for the people at Comcast (or Symantec) who will have to solve the problem.
I emphasize that this is not the time to make a lot of noise --- not publicly, at least. This is the time for gathering data. We can make noise soon enough, if we can confirm the report we received earlier today.
UPDATE: Go ahead and make some noise if you like. We've seen enough to know that something terribly fishy is going on.
CONTACT INFO for COMCAST:
Abuse Dept: phone 856-317-7272 – ext 1 or email: Secureemail@example.com
Mike: phone 856-324-2415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or email email@example.com
Jim Janco [Manager of abuse dept]: cell 856-297-3548
We will post more contact information as soon as possible.
If you're still not sure about your e-mail provider, or if you'd like to help us gather more data, please participate in our informal study. I'll be watching this thread to see the results of your testing.
To repeat: Please send yourself four emails as described above, then come here and tell us how many --- and which ones --- you received.
Thanks, as usual, for your cooperation.