develish1

Just a few random thoughts and pictures

This is a rant……….

As such, I apologize now for any and all mistakes with regards to spelling and grammar, and to be honest I’d probably recommend you don’t even bother reading it at all, I just need to get it out of my system……please note, there will be swearing.

Ok, as the more eagle eyed amongst you will already know, I run a small social forum over at Aimoo.com. In addition I also assist as a moderator on the official Help Forums operated by Aimoo, which most days consists mainly of pointing people towards the correct setting in their control panels to do what they wish to do.

Every now and then though, things go wrong, in a big way. For the last 24 hours we’ve been getting complaints about a service called OpenDNS that is blocking some users from accessing their own forums, control panels etc and as you can imagine they’re not happy.

Having never heard of this company before, like many of those posting complaints, I went off on a search and found their website (no you’re not getting a link) and discovered that basically what they do is filter web content to stop you visiting sites that might harm your computer. So right now you’re thinking, well that’s sounds like a good idea, right? Well in principle yes it is, if you were the one that signed up for the service, and know how to use it to get the results you want.

But what if you suddenly discovered your ISP was using this service, hadn’t even bothered to tell you, and now you can’t even access your own website? You’d be pissed right? So now you can imagine the sort of messages we’ve been getting for the last 24 hours, from some very confused and very upset people.

So, knowing our web master is in a different time zone, and English is not his first language, I head off to their website to try and find out what the hell is going on. What I find is shocking. It seems they’ve received a report of a phishing website, but the URL that was reported with it contains part of our web address, and rather than do any kind of investigation they’ve simply decided to block all aimoo.com URL’s for anyone who has chosen, or was unlucky enough to be saddled with, their service.]

Oh and please note, the page that pops up has no option to ignore it or click though it etc, as you can see from this example, there is an option to tell then why you think the site is safe (excuse me! I’m an adult. I have to explain to YOU why I think this site is safe before you”ll let me go there?)

What does this mean to our users? Well since all the “control” style functions for their forums, profiles and blogs are all stored on simple aimoo.com URL’s, it means they can’t access them at all. And despite the fact that every one of them has already tried to contact OpenDNS, they’ve haven’t done a damn thing about it, nor have they replied to them.

Now as you will already know, I’m not in the best frame of mind this week given my personal issues, and frankly I’m getting very pissed off myself at this point on behalf of all these innocent people who can’t even access their own damn website properly.

So, I contacted OpenDNS myself, put on my best calm “voice”, explained who I was, explained what our users were going through, and explained that the “problem” site was in fact nothing to do with Aimoo. I even quoted the specific case # attached to the report so they’d know exactly what I was talking about. I got what can only be described as a “form letter” style response saying “fix the problem and we’ll remove the block”

This did not endear them to me. I replied, again calmly, which I have to say surprised me, and yet again explained that the site concerned is not hosted by Aimoo and we can’t fix something that’s not on our site, or our servers and has no connection with us.

I then got a further mail from them, telling me I had to contact http://www.phishtank.com to tell them the details, so they’ll update their records, and then OpenDNS can remove the blocks etc, etc.

Thing is though, after visiting http://www.phishtank.com I discovered (as proudly stated across the top of their website) that they are wholly owned, and operated by guess who? OpenDNS. As you can imagine, my patience reached breaking point at this stage. My response therefore at this stage was as follows;

“Ok, so you want me to contact a website that your company operates, and tell them their records are wrong, after I’ve already told you this? If different sections of your own company are this bad at talking to each other this rather explains the mess our users currently find themselves in.

I will contact them though, and hope that this can be resolved sooner rather than later. I will also however be ensuring that all our users are well informed as to what has occurred, and the hoops I’ve had to jump through, to correct an issue that was not of our making.”

So here I am now, stuck dealing with 2 different offices of the same damn company, who refuse to talk to each other, and office A wont act until office B updates their records.

Oh and by the way, after reading their own forums I discovered this isn’t the first time they’ve blocked a totally innocent website for supposed phishing, without any evidence to back it up. I found a thread there that was 3 pages long and full of complaints from late last year, when they apparently blocked all access to Ebay!

My advice after going through all this crap for just a few hours? Stay the hell away from OpenDNS! They don’t actually investigate supposed problem sites, they just block em and be damned.

And if despite all of the above you’re still thinking “but this sounds like something I could maybe use to keep my kids safe” think again. As I understand it from one of my contacts at Aimoo, despite our site being blocked they could still access some very graphic porn.

GOD I need a drink, or sex, or both!

Update – Added 10 April 2010

I believe we have a result folks. Even though they haven’t bothered replying to many of those who contacted them complaining about the issue mentioned above, and still haven’t gotten back to me yet either, Phishtank has taken action. This is what is now showing on their website with regards to aimoo.com URL’s

So it looks like it is indeed resolved and the blocks should now have been removed for all users. Whether this is as a result of my terribly polite, but extremely sarcastic, messages to them, or the fact that I’ve been telling as much of the world as I can about their behaviour etc I don’t know, and frankly don’t care.

I’m just extremely glad to know all those Aimoo users can now get back to having fun in their forums again.

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April 9, 2010 - Posted by | A Bit Of A Rant |

3 Comments

  1. I vote both, followed by some fun exec-email-bombing!!! (http://consumerist.com/2007/05/how-to-launch-an-executive-email-carpet-bomb.html)

    Being restrained and achingly polite (something only the Brits can do well) while pointing out, line by line, step by step, just how incompetent they are can be very satisfying.

    ‘Course, I’m a lawyer, so I tend to just find the relevant statutory/regulatory authority and threaten them with that, in an email from my work account (somehow Ministry of Justice emails get much better results than my gmail ones…). Ooh and a letter of complaint to the Minister of Technology (or equivalent) with the Execs (and PR team if poss) of the company cc’d in is always fun, too.

    Good luck, let us know how you go!!

    Comment by Jen | April 9, 2010

    • Thanks Jen,

      haven’t checked all my messages yet today so I’m not sure if I’ve gotten any further messages from either party, as I’m feeling rather unwell for some strange reason. Oh yeah, that would be the large amount of alcohol wouldn’t it?

      I still find it amazing though, that a third party, who our users are not even registered with, can just stop them from accessing their own sites in this way, and there seems to be nothing they can do about it. Apparently they can register with the service and will then be allowed to change the settings and stop the filtering, but to do so means giving them personal information, which our users are obviously unwilling to do.

      It’s all just incredibly frustrating, for us and our users.

      Comment by develish1 | April 10, 2010

    • woohoo, got a result Jen, see above for details. It’s all sorted.

      Comment by develish1 | April 10, 2010


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