December 06, 2003

Yahoo Solves Spam. Experts wonder.

First off, I'm no expert on the anti-spam world. But I do happen to track what's going on in that world and know some of the folks who are important there.

You might have read about Yahoo's "Domain Keys" announcement. Many folks have weighed in publicly as have many others in private e-mail lists. By all accounts, the larger community of anti-spam folks were generally surprised by Yahoo's announcement. And that's a problem in my mind.

I'm not sure if it's arrogance, stupidity, or a need to somehow impress the world with Yahoo's ability to "innovate" (it's really not a new idea), but it strikes me as rather misguided.


Spam is not going to be solved by a single company. There's a large community of hackers and business folks working on it. They cooperate, share information, discuss trends, and brainstorm new ideas. This happens all the time in that world.

Yahoo said its "Domain Keys" software, which it hopes to launch in 2004, will be made available freely to the developers of the Web's major open-source e-mail software and systems.

For a company that uses ass-loads of Open Source software, you'd think they'd open up the development on something that's this important. And I don't mean this "we'll release when it's ready" method they're apparently using. I mean "here's our CVS tree and design documents. We welcome your feedback, patches, and ideas for improving the system." That kind of "open." Just like SpamAssassin, for example.

What would have been helpful is for the folks at Yahoo Mail to explain why they've not adopted or tried to get more involved in some of the other upcoming initiatives, such as SPF. Heck, it'd be nice if I could go to to find out about everything Yahoo's doing in this area. (Note: part of that site appears to be a dynamic ad-like module, so your chances of getting a good answer seem to be random. Or you could just keep hitting the reload button.)

Amusingly, on Yahoo's own antispam site, I see the two most recent headlines are:

Do you notice what I notice? First, there's no mention of "Domain Keys" there. The latest headline is from October 21st. Second, they trumpet the fact that AOL, Microsoft, and Yahoo! have decided to "Join Forces" but this isn't reflected in any of the "Domain Keys" information we've seen.

What's going on here?

If Yahoo, MSN, and AOL had jointly announced this, we'd have a whole different beast on our hands. But since it seems a lot more like another lone cowboy going after the bandits (again), it doesn't have the same level of credibility.

Anyway, the reaction in the anti-spam community (at least the parts of it that I see) hasn't been very rosy. I've seen a lot of "well... good luck" comments, suggesting that there's little chance of it getting much traction. The more positive ones have been along the lines of "sure, it'll help... but not much."

See Also:

Oh, and in case it's not abundantly clear, I don't speak for my employer on my weblog. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs some serious medication.

Posted by jzawodn at 08:21 PM

Toledo Bloggers and Toledo Talk

I'm not sure why I was surprised to discover this, but a blogging network has grown up around my home town. If you're interested in what's going on around Toledo, Ohio have a look at ToledoBloggers and ToledoTalk.

I haven't been reading them enough to quite discern the relationships among them, but there seems to be quite a bit of local issue coverage on ToledoTalk. Maybe someone from Toledo can enlighten me a bit?

Posted by jzawodn at 04:48 PM