Sea of Noise

Thu, 05 Jun 2008

Gmail: Smell the Fail

Gmail has been sucking even more than usual lately. If you don't run a mail server, you might not have noticed; but Gmail has become a cesspool spewing spam onto the rest of the 'net. For the few hundred domains I host, Gmail is now beating out Yahoo, MSN, Earthlink, and AT&T as a source of spam among the companies I don't block from my servers outright. (And that's quite an accomplishment, because the aforementioned companies suck more than a little! AOL, BTW, would have been on that list until recently, and they still originate a lot of spam, but they've come a long way.)

For what it's worth, here's a comment I posted tonight to a discussion list where Gmail's suckage and our desire to block their servers has been a topic of conversation among mail server administrators of late:

Quite a few of us seem to think that Google and other "free"mail services have a responsibility to the rest of the 'net to vet their prospective users. The response to any proposed requirements, though, seems to be that the methods aren't impervious to fraud and/or will be too high a barrier for certain kinds of people. But there's no reason that multiple approaches to tying someone to a real world identity can't be used, nor does a decision about trust have to be binary. (Why are new Gmail users able to send a seemingly infinite number of emails, to anyone, on day one?) More importantly, all of these approaches could be enhanced by using reputation information already present in the network.

When Gmail was first rolled out, I was excited about it—not because I wanted to use it, but because I mistakenly thought Google was doing something new to address the spam problem that plagued other freemail services. Remember "invites"? It boggles my mind that Google stopped requiring invites and apparently never used the social network and reputation possibilities they provided!

Am I the only person who is amazed that the company built on PageRank can't figure this out?

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