Tonight, an email to a friend of mine was rejected from the comcast.net mail servers, sent back with a notice that my mail server has been blacklisted by the good folks at Comcast “for abuse.”
----- The following addresses had permanent fatal errors -----
(my cousin's email address)
(reason: 550-126.96.36.199 blocked by ldap:ou=rblmx,dc=comcast,dc=net)
----- Transcript of session follows -----
... while talking to gateway-r.comcast.net.:
MAIL From: (my email address) SIZE=4602
<<< 550-188.8.131.52 blocked by ldap:ou=rblmx,dc=comcast,dc=net
<<< 550 Blocked for abuse. Please send blacklist removal requests to email@example.com - Be sure to include your mail server IP ADDRESS.
554 5.0.0 Service unavailable
I administer my own mail server, and can tell you with absolute certainty that it’s not involved in any abuse directed the way of Comcast, so this was a bit confusing. I sent off an email to the address in the response, providing the information that was requested and asking for an explanation.
Hello -- I just tried to send an email from my mail server to a colleague on comcast.net, and received a reply that my mail server has been blacklisted. (I am the administrator of the mail server; it's mail.queso.com, also known as fondue.queso.com, IP address 184.108.40.206.) Can I please learn why the server has been blacklisted? I'd appreciate logs of any suspicious activity that you've seen, if that's the cause of the blacklist.
Please get back to me at your soonest convenience; this is actually a reasonably large problem.
I then went to my good friend Google to see if I could better understand what had happened, and learned that I’m far from the only one who’s experienced this idiocy. Hidden-Tech appears to have been blacklisted regularly, as has HSH Associates, TechPro, and even the esteemed Wil Wheaton (hell, the TechPro people had to have their attorney participate in phonecalls to Comcast before they were able to get the problem solved!). After reading those, it didn’t surprise me at all to hear my email notification ding and find this in my inbox:
Please do not reply to this message.
We have received your request for removal from our inbound blacklist. After investigating the issue, we have found that you did not include the IP address to be removed.
We need the IP address that you believe is currently blocked to further investigate this issue.
Please verify the IP and resubmit your request to firstname.lastname@example.org.
So, what I’ve learned is that not only does Comcast suck at administering its own email system, it sucks at the simple task of writing a tiny app to find an IP address in an email. It’s unfortunate that both my inlaws rely on Comcast for their email addresses — I guess it’s time to move them over to something a bit more competently-managed.
Update: I sent another email, this time with the IP address alone on its own line, and again got a reply saying I didn’t send the address. I hate Comcast; maybe it’s time to just block all incoming email from comcast.net and be done with it.
Update 2: I sent two more emails, trying to decipher the super-secret method Comcast’s using to find the IP address (on a blank line? prefixed by “IP ADDRESS”? on the subject line?), and both garnered replies that claimed I didn’t include it. Seriously, this is the most broken system I’ve encountered on the ‘net ever; Comcast has just essentially guaranteed that I’d rather pith myself than ever become a customer of theirs.