Talk:Spam Prevention Early Warning System

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I reverted a big edit a little while ago, and noted it was POV. Largely because of this sentence: Also, "taking responsibility" often means "drag them through the courts until one of us runs out of money". In retrospect, I'm not sure it was quite as POV as I initially thought, but I still think it was poorly-written and not worth rewriting half the page for. eaolson 03:47, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

I've reverted my version back, please feel free to tidy up the language, or rephrase the offending sentence. But it really can't be left as it was. (See the "Is it just me" comment below.) --Billpg 18:22, 16 August 2005 (UTC)

Is it just me, or is this article rather biased? Everything above the "counter argument" part seems well written, but below that point seems like it was written hastily by a SPEWS fanatic. The "THIS ARTICLE IS NOT SPEWS AND THE EDITORS HAVE NO IDEA WHO THEY ARE" stuff in particular does not remind me of any encyclopedia I've read. --FrancisRogers

It is just you. The article is factual, and while the note about not being SPEWS is uncommon it may be useful given that many people fail to understand that the SPEWS operators are really anonymous. --Md 13:24, 25 Feb 2004 (UTC)
Well, the whole "Writing to NANAE" part is wrong. Not biased, but wrong. NANAE is not SPEWS, and several of the regulars tend to really resent the implication that their newsgroup should be a dumping-ground for complaints about SPEWS' list. And yes, a lot of the text here is non-encyclopedic; Wikipedia is not a collection of how-to guides nor netiquette guides. --FOo 16:14, 25 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Pardon the edit conflict, Mr. or Ms. ... just trying to get some larger rewrites and grammar/usage fixes in. --FOo

Jeroen -- SPEWS was not shut down, and is not shut down. I know; I am operating a private DNSBL based on SPEWS data, obtained from a mirror whose operator has requested that his site not be published widely. What happened, rather, was that Joe Jared, the operator of the Osirusoft blocklist collection, shut down his DNSBLs, including the one based on the SPEWS data set. For further discussion, please see --FOo 17:28, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)

Sorry for the mistake. I used SPEWS too (via distributer Osirusoft) as mail server operator, and was unpleasantly supprised by it's shutdown. Because itself is also down, I incorrectly assumed that SPEWS and Osirusoft were the same, merely being a shortcut to Jeroen 17:41, 29 Aug 2003 (UTC)

The following is non-encyclopedic content removed here from the page. It should be relatively obvious why it is not nearly fitting to an encyclopedia article that seeks to describe SPEWS rather than to offer (highly opinionated!) advice to listees. The bit about "groveling" to n.a.n-a.e is particularly offensive, e.g. --FOo 07:01, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Getting Out Of SPEWS[edit]

Your service provider, or you (if you are a service provider) should have the following e-mail addresses working, answered, and not re-directed to /dev/null.

  • abuse@[your site]
  • postmaster@[your site]

Failure to have these addresses working will possibly prevent your address from being removed from SPEWS.

Writing To NANAE[edit]

If you are spamming:

1. STOP spamming! Now!
2. Make sure all e-mail lists are opt-in. This means that each person must request to receive advertising e-mail and where this is done on something like a program registration, an e-mail informing each person that they are going to receive advertising with the option of opting out.
3. Create a news article in with the subject SPEWS #### (whatever your case number is -- see the SPEWS Web site).
4. Be polite.
5. DO NOT THREATEN LEGAL ACTION -- really! Keep your cool and DO NOT THREATEN LEGAL ACTION. Some system administrators are known for taking revenge by increasing block size on people who threaten legal action. After legal threats, system operators are known to add comments to their block list like 'remove after the heat death of the universe'.
6. Apologize. Grovel. Admit to the errors of your ways. Promise never-ever-ever to do it again. It is probably a bad idea to offer excuses. Be prepared to wait. Eventually you will be de-listed. If you re-start spamming, be prepared for a much longer period of being listed in spews.

If you are not doing the spamming:

1. Find out who is doing the spamming. Go to the SPEWS Web site.
2. Talk to your service provider about the person doing the spamming.
3a. Your service provider agrees to stop the spamming, but not terminate the spammer: It will be a long wait. Eventually you will be delisted. You may wish to find another service provider for your e-mail, while this is happening.
3b. Your service provider is not interested in your complaints: The following advice was given to someone who's entire country was blocked:
* Complain to your country and get them to stop hosting spammers.
* Move to a different country.
* Live with it.
optionally, you may wish to send all e-mail through a white hat service provider, assuming your country has one.
3c. Your service provider has terminated the spammer. See immediately below.

If you are a service provider who hosts a spammer:

1. Terminate their service NOW!
2. Create a news article in with the subject SPEWS #### (whatever your case number is - see the SPEWS Web site).
3. Be polite.
4. DO NOT THREATEN LEGAL ACTION! Some people think it is fun to take revenge years after people threaten legal action. If you threaten legal action, expect to have your site blocked long after the second coming by a number of system administrators.
5. Apologize. Promise to kill spammers quicker next time. Do not claim you didn't know. Excuses are probably not helpful. Make sure the mailing address abuse@[your site] exists, and is answered by a human. If you re-start hosting spamming, be prepared for a much longer period of being listed in SPEWS, with a lot more of your IP addresses being blocked. It is quite likely that some of these blocks will not be removed for years.

Changing Service Providers[edit]

1. Make sure that your new service provider does not host spammers.
2. sign contracts, whatever
3. post a notice in with the subject line SPEWS #### I'm moving! (get the number from the SPEWS Web site).
4. Say in the body of your message that you are moving (name of company, current IP address, new IP address). Provide the date of the move. Provide the name of the new service provider. Ask that your IP address be delisted from SPEWS. In some instances, where the move is within a week or so, the IP address may be delisted by SPEWS.
5. Have your new service provider respond, verifying your information (optional) but helpful.

Note, known spammers who move to a new service provider may find that they are blocked before they have a chance to send e-mail. The "EW" in SPEWS stands for "early warning".

People who talk to you in NANAE do not know who SPEWS is. They do not represent SPEWS. Many of them use SPEWS, and are fairly fanatical in their support of SPEWS. People who are opposed to SPEWS also post in NANAE. Some of these people are fairly fanatical in opposition to SPEWS.

Something Awful[edit]

Something Awful posted a nice anti-SPEWS article a while back about their shady practices. While the article does contain a really lame attempt at humor, it contains alot of facual information. The article is here [1]. Should any of the points menctioned in the links be added?

Something Awful is noted for sophomoric humor, not accurate reporting; and in this case appear to have a grudge because their mail was blocked by SPEWS users. They are not a reputable source here.
(Please do not use biased (NPOV-violating) headers for talk-page comments. The purpose of headers here is to distinguish one conversation from another, not to push particular points of view.) --FOo 3 July 2005 00:54 (UTC)

The rename is acceptable. And although I do know Something Awful is not a reputable source, the links they give to other sites are. Since the links are spread all over the page and since Wikipedia is not a collection of links, I figured a dedicated user could go through them, look at the information provided and add something useful to the article.--Arm

Since SPEWS ( is anonymous, it must be judged by its strongest supporters, who at least KNOW who runs SPEWS SPEWS information page. This makes SPEWS look like a very bad idea.


I've removed the following paragraph:

"Some people, already angry at having their mail blocked due to "collateral damage", ignore the advice given on the SPEWS bounce page, which encourages them to complain to their ISP. An acceptable alternative to complaining to their own ISP would be to complain to the ISP responsible for the blocking, but some seek to contact SPEWS directly to address their grievances, which is done via the USENET newsgroups (NANABL) and (NANAE). The latter group is open to absolutely anybody, and participants include anti-spam enthusiasts and other strong-minded people, a small minority of whom prefer to antagonise and mock those who are blocked despite not spamming."

This is blatant POV (Try 'do not accept the advice' and remove the reference to anger). But it's also inaccurate. The SPEWS FAQ says that SPEWS cannot be contacted, and carefully words its reference to those newsgroups to avoid suggesting that posting there is "contacting SPEWS". Claiming that SPEWS can be contacted by posting to those groups is not correct.

I've also removed a few references to SPEWS' advisory nature, as the implied idea that because SPEWS does not block itself, it is not responsible for blocking problems is itself POV.

Ken Arromdee 14:53, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

Actually, the whole article needs to be deleted and rewritten. It's full of things like "observers have recommended" and "observers of SPEWS have noted". These are weasel terms which are there to imply that SPEWS has a general practice or a policy about such things, but to avoid saying that outright, since such statements, when said directly, are not supportable. At least, all such sentences should be removed--but it would gut the article. Ken Arromdee 15:04, 15 August 2005 (UTC)

One of the problems of discussion of SPEWS is that so very much of it is based on unvarnished speculation and "folk wisdom" which amounts to utter bullshit. (I use this latter word not as a generic term of abuse, but in the epistemological sense proposed by Prof. Harry Frankfurt: statements made without a proper regard for their truth or falsity.)
This is equally true on forums such as where many people support SPEWS, as in the grievances and conspiracy theories of those who dislike it (e.g. the lawsuit by the "EmarketersAmerica" spammers, who (IIRC) claimed that Steve Linford of Spamhaus was SPEWS).
For instance, the entire "collateral damage theory" -- the claim that SPEWS' purpose is to inflict costs upon ISPs deemed insufficiently fervid in their policing of spammers -- seems to have had its start as a revenge fantasy among anti-spam activists, and been incubated in outrageous spammer actions such as EmarketersAmerica's lawsuit. Anti-spammers who propound the "collateral damage theory" offer it not as a possible explanation of SPEWS listings, but as an established, admitted truth -- like a conspiracy theory, but as described by those who approve of the conspiracy. --FOo 00:10, 17 August 2005 (UTC)

"Due to their anonymity, there is nothing that the operators of SPEWS can do to disassociate themselves from NANAE hecklers or over-exuberant mail administrators, which is one aspect of the controversy regarding the SPEWS service."

I removed this statement, because it is not true. There are ways in which SPEWS could dissociate itself from such people without losing anonymity; for instance, PGP-signed anonymous newsgroup posts would serve this function. Ken Arromdee 06:05, 28 August 2005 (UTC)

Excuse me? "Observers of SPEWS have noted" doesn't belong in the article. It's a transparent attempt to use weasel words to claim that the statements are true, but to maintain plausible deniability by attributing them to observers. If you can't support the statement without reference to unnamed observers, it shouldn't be in there.

A lot of the rest of this edit is very questionable:

"Dispite the anonymity, SPEWS has to answer to the highest court in the land, the court of public opinion." POV, and not even true, since SPEWS doesn't have to answer to public opinion in general. Also misspelled.

Fair enough, but the point is that SPEWS only has power at all because people trust them. That trust can be revoked at any time. --Billpg 08:39, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

"Many regulars take umbrage to new posters who come under the belief that simply posting to Usenet will get their addresses removed from SPEWS -- and greater umbrage to listees who come with chips on their shoulders, behaving offensively and making threats. Posters to these groups, which include, cannot remove addresses from SPEWS -- but they can provide informed speculation on the reasons for specific listings, and advice on how to stop the problems that lead to listings"

This is absurd. You're not seriously telling me that this is NPOV material?

"It should also be noted that speculating as to the SPEWS operators' intent, emotional state, psychology, patience, or other private attributes is a habit, not to say a pastime, on these newsgroups. None of these speculations should be taken as authoritative."

This is about as bad. The article is supposed to describe SPEWS. It's not supposed to be a lecture about SPEWS to miscreants.

"Spam-fighters regard the sending of spam complaints as a courtesy to the site complained-to. Just as in some jurisdictions it is legal to shoot a neighbor's dog if it strays onto one's property and does damage, it is likewise legal to simply refuse all email from a site which emits spam. It is, by this argument, courteous to, instead, simply inform the offender of the harm being done -- so that it may put a stop to the problem (or a leash on the dog)."

Again, this isn't supposed to be a lecture about SPEWS, and this is some seriously POV material.

"Sites which are seen as quickly responding to spam problems when reported are not, generally, seen in SPEWS listings."

Is there a source for this statement? I would guess no.

"That said, observers have found that site operators shutting down a spammer customer sometimes leave resources active which are of use to the spammer. Commentary on newsgroups suggests that SPEWS does not remove listings until all such resources are terminated."

This is virtually the same as material I've removed before. "Observers have found?" "Commentary suggests"? Those are weasel words. If you cannot support a statement which outright says "SPEWS does not remove listings until..." you should not attribute it to observers or commentary.

"The people in NANAE are seasoned war veterans who have developed their own terminology and way of doing things."

This is POV.

I've only scratched the surface here. Ken Arromdee 05:18, 6 December 2005 (UTC)

Aug2006 on discussion[edit]

Looks like the same anonymous user who was vandalizing the article with wild claims has registered to get around the semi-protection. Removing the vandalization. SirFozzie 17:10, 6 September 2006 (UTC)

August 5, 2007 reversions[edit]

Your description of it being a "Catch-22" is both POV and incorrect. There is no Catch-22. All the listed party has to do is stop doing business with the provider, and his problem will go away. "Catch-22" implies that the situation is impossible to correct because of contradictory needs.

The article does not claim that SPEWS motivation of being anonymous was to avoid lawsuits. It probably was, but the article does not state that. What the article states is that one of the benefits of being anonymous is the avoidance of lawsuits. Care to contradict that? Does being anonymous facilitate lawsuits? If so, how? Kww 17:08, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

I was getting tricked by some artifacts of the "diff" listing (I hate how it highlights blocks of text as changed when they have not been). Trying again. Kww 18:42, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

Unsourced accusations will be deleted[edit]

To those who are trying to insert an unsourced accusation about Shaw Communications -- please quit it. We don't do unsourced accusations on Wikipedia. Go find a reliable source, or just leave it out. --FOo 21:40, 5 August 2007 (UTC)

There were people claiming to be SPEWS[edit]

At least one well known spammer posted an article in NANAE claiming to be a SPEWS administrator. What is true is that there was no plausible claim to be SPEWS.

Similarly, several articles claimed that specific people other than the authors were SPEWS administrators. As above, no evidence was ever presented to support the claims, and they were widely considered to be bogus. Shmuel (Seymour J.) Metz Username:Chatul (talk) 13:46, 1 November 2010 (UTC)