North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Affects of the balkanization of mail blacklisting

  • From: Joel Baker
  • Date: Sun Aug 12 12:26:38 2001

On Sat, Aug 11, 2001 at 12:28:39PM -0700, Margie wrote:
> --On Saturday, August 11, 2001 11:24 AM -0700 Roy <[email protected]> 
> wrote:
> >
> >
> > It would have been nice if we could all agreed on a DUL database that
> > would be distributed free to anyone to use.
> >
> Naturally, I have a different perspective. ;)
> MAPS has developed, maintained and published these lists for a number 
> of years, on our nickel.  The "nickel" to date is to the tune of 
> several million dollars in operational and legal expenses.  That's cash 
> folks, not donated equipment, not donated bandwidth, not volunteer 
> efforts. Cold, hard, CASH.  It didn't come from corporate donations, it 
> didn't come from subscriptions.  99% of it  came out of Dave's and 
> Paul's pockets.

Indeed they have. And some of us are quite thankful for the gift. But
that is, effectively, what it was - like all of the community efforts
that give away code, or lists of abusers, or anything else.

> MAPS as a corporation must have revenue to operate.  We tried to 
> produce that revenue with a paid service called the RBL+.  We tried to 
> produce that revenue with our outsourced abuse services.  The people 
> that could most afford to use those services chose to continue to use 
> the free queries (at the rate of 10s of millions of queries a day for 
> some ISPs) rather than paying their own way.  That had to stop.  The 
> only way to stop it was to restrict access all access to the zones.

This is true; operating costs are > 0, and must be offset by either
donations (invidual or corporate), or fees. MAPS has now changed which
of these they are using to fund themselves, and this has consequences,
just as it does for every other non-profit (animal shelters, PBS based
TV stations, etc).

> You folks are certainly free to start your own lists, or,  you could 
> encourage your employers to financially support the organization that 
> has been financially carrying them for all this time.

Indeed. Of course, some of us either don't control the bean counters,
or are very small networks whose costs due to spam are easily exceeded,
even by the new "low cost" version of MAPS. And some are just militantly
anti-commercial about things, and will now treat MAPS like any other
commercial entity, rather than community service - IE, if they want
an up-to-date list of dialup IPs, they can darn well pay for it, since
they're charging for use of the information. Formerly, this would have
fallen into the category of "donation".

> The fees are based on cost, not profit.  MAPS remains a not-for-profit 
> corporation.  For most mid-sized networks, the cost to them is $0.05 
> per user per year .  For the small outfits, its less than my annual 
> Starbuck's expenses ;)

And some companies trying to do dialup are doing it on a very slim margin
for those dialup customers.

All in all, MAPS can do whatever they like, and always could - but what
they have chosen to do will almost certainly now put them in a model where
they will be in competition against those services which choose to run on
donations rather than fees, and provide a similar service.

I would say "may the better business model win", but I'm not sure that's
really what's in the best interest of the 'Net at large. It certainly
hasn't been, in a lot of cases. Generally because "business" puts money
first and foremost, while the 'Net was largely built on a trust basis that
collapses as soon as it's abused. Just the way things panned out.
Joel Baker                           System Administrator -
[email protected]