We received a report today that Comcast seems to be discarding any email that contained a URL shortened with our easyURL shortening service:
“Just a note to let you know that the major cable provider/ISP Comcast is currently blocking all emails which include any “easyurl.net” link in them. No matter what I do if the URL contains an easyURL link Comcast doesn’t deliver the message and (even worse) does not bounce the message back to me. Comcast simply discards the message. I’ve tested this with multiple emails with various forms of text in the body. Regardless of other content if there is an EasyURL link in it the email does not get delivered.”
We have subsequently confirmed that any email containing the string “easyurl.net” does not arrive at comcast email destinations, and the sender does not receive a bounce message or any other notification on non-delivery.
easyURL is a URL shortening service launched in 2005 (and last year we added a social bookmarking component that supports openid.)
We know that spammers like to employ links created via URL shortening services to cloak their tracks and confuse trace attempts, so we have tried to make easyURL as useless as possible to the spammer.
- Our robots.txt file tells all robots and search engine spiders not to follow any URL under the easyURL.net domain
- We do not create redirects to any URL listed in the sURBL blacklist
- We do not create redirects to any URL listed in the black.uribl.org blacklist
- We perform keyword analysis for spam strings on the remote destination before we create the redirect
- We maintain a database of other URL shortening services and will not create a redirect to another URL shortener (spammers like to chain them together)
As you may gather, we don’t like spam and you get zero linkpop from using easyURL. It is designed to be used as intended: a convenient way to shorten URLs.
For Comcast Users
A modest proposal to search engines
As I thought of this predicament the idea occurred to me that URL redirectors could add a TXT record to their DNS which which would assert a “rel=nofollow” to all links under that domain a spider may come across in its crawls. Something like
easyurl.net IN TXT "html attrib rel=nofollow"
Or something like that. The key is to make URL redirects as useless to spammers as possible and one element of that is to completely remove any SEO lift that could be gotten via URL shorteners.