[SURBL-Discuss] Re: Leaving SURBL

Jeff Chan jeffc at surbl.org
Fri Apr 8 03:01:18 CEST 2005

On Thursday, April 7, 2005, 12:36:49 PM, Patrik Nilsson wrote:
> At 20:51 2005-04-06 -0700, Jeff Chan wrote:
>>One of the reasons SURBLs have been very useful to many people
>>is because of these policies.  So we're probably not going to
>>change them.  That said, there's probably room for other lists
>>for folks who want to be more aggressive about mail filtering,
>>but we're probably never going to do that with SURBLs.

> It's not just about lists for folks who want to be more aggressive about 
> spam filtering, it's also about people who want to use surbl-type lists to 
> *score*, rather than block, spam.

> I am not sure when it happened, but SURBLs are apparently now explicitly 
> expected to be used for *blocking* email.

That was always a stated goal from the beginning: to have a
telco-grade list that could be used for outright "set it and
forget it" blocking at the MTA level.

That may be an unreachable goal, but the fact that (some) SURBLs
get high scores in SpamAssassin is an indication that some may
approach that goal. 

> Separate lists primarily used for scoring could be more aggressive in their
> listing policies, without necessarily ending up blocking more FPs.

To some extent we already have that.  sc.surbl.org gets a 3.9
score in SA.  ws.surbl.org, a more aggressive list, gets 0.5 .

> The current policy for SURBLs, currently being the only major public uri 
> list, encourages binary "block or not" implementations that expect surbl 
> type lists to be used in that capacity. That's bad, as it unnecessarily 
> limits the potential for url checking.

score URIBL_AB_SURBL 0 2.007 0 0.417
score URIBL_OB_SURBL 0 1.996 0 3.213
score URIBL_PH_SURBL 0 0.839 0 2.000
score URIBL_SC_SURBL 0 3.897 0 4.263
score URIBL_WS_SURBL 0 0.539 0 1.462

The differing scores say otherwise.

> Having alternative lists with other policies could hopefully make 
> implementors think twice about how they implement url checking against 
> surbl type lists.

> And no, this is not a problem caused by SURBL - I can understand why the 
> policy is like it is considering what it apparently wants to do - but I 
> really believe we should encourage other surbl type lists to avoid limiting 
> the use of url checking in anti-spam software.

> Patrik 

Anyone is free to make whatever lists they want with whatever
policies they want.  We're not going to change the policies on
SURBLs however.  Many people are using SURBLs because of the
policies we have and the results they get by using them.

We have no plans to change what we're doing, and we have the
support of many active contributors and data sources.  I don't
see that changing.  Nor are we changing our listing policies.

SURBLs will continue to be around and hopefully will have
improved FP rates and better spam detection rates too. 

Jeff C.
"If it appears in hams, then don't list it."

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