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Customer Service

208 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2008 :  12:13:58 PM  Show Profile  Visit Customer Service's Homepage  Reply with Quote
We have been receiving questions about the red warning that appears on Yahoo searches when referencing AlpacaNation. This warning has been published by a service called Site Advisor from the McAfee corporation. They are claiming that when they signed up on AlpacaNation in August 2007, they started receiving 2 spam emails per week. Therefore they have labeled AlpacaNation as one of those dreaded spammers.

To put it lightly we are contesting this rating with McAfee for the following reasons:

1. We have no record of McAfee ever signing up for an account on AlpacaNation so we question the validity of the rating to begin with.

2. There is an abundance of articles on the Internet with other sites being incorrectly rated in a similar fasion (referred to as "false positives"). For example: http://www.revenews.com/davidlewis/mcafee-siteadvisor/#comment-17112

3. We have reperformed the same test several times by signing up for AlpacaNation and the AlpacaNation forum with new unique email addresses and haven't received ANY spam!

4. We have provided links to other alpaca web sites which do not protect customer email addresses but have been rated as okay (green) by the same Site Advisor service. Yet they will not give an explanation for this inconsistency.

5. They have not performed a retest of AlpacaNation.com despite our repeated reqeusts for such a test. They say they will retest sites in these cases, but it has been almost a year for AN!

6. Their customer service has been abysmal. They have been incredibly slow to respond and vague when they do respond. They appear to not be working from any published standard and have given very inconsistent advice in response to our inquiries.

The only possible explanation we can think of is that perhaps McAfee signed up for a forum account (even though we can't find such an account)and chose to publish their email address thus making it available to viewers of the site. Or posted a classified ad and included their email address. If this was the case, we certainly shouldn't be penalized for it!

We will keep you posted on how this gets resolved.

Sincerely,

Ken Halley
AlpacaNation LLC

Customer Service

208 Posts

Posted - 06/11/2008 :  12:42:30 PM  Show Profile  Visit Customer Service's Homepage  Reply with Quote
For those of you who are interested in the details, we have included some of our email dialogue with the McAfee Site Advisor support person below.


First response from McAfee:

-----Original Message-----
From: McAfee SiteAdvisor Support
Sent: Thursday, May 29, 2008 3:53 PM
To: alpacanation.com
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Re: Site Advisor

Hello,

After further investigation, SiteAdvisor engineers have discovered that the unique email address which was submitted to your site did indeed receive spammy emails. SiteAdvisor views this correspondence as a positive first step toward a green site rating in the future.

When our crawler analyzed this domain for web safety threats, it detected public-facing user email addresses. These are then subject to being farmed by spammers.

SiteAdvisor does not believe this site is responsible for Internet users receiving spammy email. Tracing the origins of spammy email is a complex problem.

Please let us know if this domain shields user email addresses from public view in the future. If it does, then I will escalatethis complaint to our engineers. They will then consider whether the SiteAdvisor web safety rating for this domain should be retested.

Sincerely,

Andrew
Customer Support
McAfee SiteAdvisor
------------------------

AlpacaNation Responded:

On Jun 2, 2008, "AlpacaNation" wrote:
Andrew,

Thank you for your email. AlpacaNation.com does shield user email
addresses from public view. We have performed your testing several times using unique email addresses and have received NO spammer emails. We are requesting an immediate re-test. Please confirm that you have received this correspondence and that the re-test will be taking place.

AlpacaNation LLC

Second Resonse from McAfee. Notice that they are citing a link/posting where a user has intentionally posted their email address in our event calendar so people can inquire about an event. This is quite different than their rating implication that AN publishes its customer email addresses.

From: McAfee SiteAdvisor Support
Sent: Monday, June 02, 2008 10:58 AM
To: alpacanation.com;
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Re: Site Advisor

Hello,

User email addresses are shown on your Events Schedule pages (e.g.
http://www.alpacanation.com/events/NL_vieweventdetail.asp?EID=12169).

Sincerely,

Andrew
Customer Support
McAfee SiteAdvisor

AlpacaNation Responded:

On Jun 2, 2008, "AlpacaNation" wrote:

Hello,

Yes, that is a free public events schedule and users have the option of including their email address on their free event listings. They can type it into a text box when creating the event listing (we do not publish it from our database) so people can email the event coordinator for more information. We do not publish our customer email addresses from our database anywhere on the site. The only place you will see an email address is where the user has typed it in and chosen to publish it.

Are you suggesting that we should prevent our users from publishing their email contact information even when they choose to do so such as on classified ads, event ads or in a forum discussion? Did your engineers purposefully publish their email address in this type of free form listing and then blame the site for publishing their account information? That would seem odd. We have signed up for every account type on AlpacaNation.com with unique email addresses and have received no spam.

Can you please forward the standards by which we are being measured so we can address them specifically rather than trying to guess all of the possible scenarios?

Thank you,
AlpacaNation LLC

Third Resonse from McAfee. Now this is really where they start going off of the reservation... email "munging"? By what standard are they determining who is and is not harmful on the Internet. Apparently according to this post AN should prevent you from including any email address in a classified ad, an event listing, a forum post or any where else EVEN IF YOU WANT TO! Keep in mind we are still not ever publishing our customer email addresses, yet we are still be labled as a spammer!

-----Original Message-----
From: McAfee SiteAdvisor Support
Sent: Thursday, June 05, 2008 4:31 PM
To: alpacanation.com
Subject: SPAM-LOW: Re: Site Advisor

Hello Kristy,

It is possible to make users' addresses available to other users while keeping them relatively safe from spammers' automated harvesting tools. For some examples, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Address_munging.

If, in the future, all users' addresses entered into your site are protected, please write back and we will consider re-testing your email handling practices.

Sincerely,

Andrew
Customer Support
McAfee SiteAdvisor

AlpacaNation Responded. Notice the site comparisons and inconsistencies included in this communication.

From: Ken Halley
Sent: Friday, June 06, 2008 10:19 AM
To: siteadvisor.com'
Subject: Re: Site Advisor - AlpacaNation .com

To whom it may concern:

This email is to advise you that our business and our customers are being significantly impacted by your negative rating of our website AlpacaNation.com. We have communicated with your customer service representative to inform Site Advisor that we are not publishing our customer’s email addresses. We have implemented additional measures in the past year to further shield email addresses where involuntary posting of customer email addresses could occur. Contrary to our shielding practices, other alpaca web sites DO in fact publish their customer email addresses in clear text without any shielding and they have been given a GREEN rating. We have requested retesting and we have requested the standards by which we are being measured so that we can make necessary changes to ensure we are fully complying.

To date we have not received a retest and we have not received any standards from Site Advisor to help guide our programming efforts to achieve an improved rating. We DO NOT publish our customer email addresses on our web site. Now we are being told that in the limited cases where a site user intentionally publishes their email address such as on a classified listing or for event contact information that it must be “munged”. However, if you examine other alpaca web sites you will see much more egregious and serious violations of email address posting practices, despite their GREEN rating by Site Advisor. In these examples, other sites who are rated GREEN actually publish their customer email addresses from their entire customer database: (Example 1: http://www.alpacaelite.com/FarmPage.aspx?Farm=36 ) (Example 2: http://www.alpacainfo.com/farmlocator/details.asp?state=CO&id=2133 ), where as AlpacaNation shields this information ( http://www.alpacanation.com/farmsandbreeders/03_viewfarm.asp?name=11008 ) How can Site Advisor justify this inconsistency with the ratings and the subsequent inconsistent guidance that we have been told to follow? What exactly is AlpacaNation.com being penalized for that other sites in our industry are not?

Time is of the essence. Your rating is detrimental to our business. We once again request the standards by which we are being measured and penalized so we can immediately correct our deficiencies, should they exist. We also request an immediate retest.

Be advised that it is our desire to resolve this quickly through cooperation with Site Advisor, however we are being given very little information and opportunity to do so.

I very much look forward to your timely response.

Earnestly,

Kenneth Halley
Owner
AlpacaNation.com




There has been no response from McAfee to this email. If anyone has any suggestions, we are all ears!

Ken
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Joni

267 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2008 :  09:02:26 AM  Show Profile  Visit Joni's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Thank you for working so hard on this. I appreciate your efforts!

Jonni

Rainbow Run Farm
2258 Old Lowgap Road
Lowgap, NC 27024
336-352-4577
jonni@rainbowrunalpacas.com
www.rainbowrunalpacas.com
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Customer Service

208 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2008 :  10:21:20 AM  Show Profile  Visit Customer Service's Homepage  Reply with Quote
Victory!!!

AlpacaNation is now GREEN!

We would like to express our appreciation to everyone for their patience while we resolved the issue we were having with McAfee. It was a long hard battle with many more emails than were posted here, but thankfully, it is now over.

Here is the final email we received from McAfee:


From: [removed]@McAfee.com
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2008 5:31 PM
To: alpacanation.com
Subject: SiteAdvisor alpacanation.com Update


Dear Mr. Halley,

My name is [removed] and I am a Vice President with McAfee and have overall responsibility for the SiteAdvisor service, including site testing, rating and customer service responsibilities. Please accept my sincere apology for our delay in responding to your initial concerns and for any confusion regarding our rating of your site, or the re-testing process.

We reviewed our recent data for your site and determined that the site rating for Alpacanation.com is expected to turn green (or no problems found) by Friday, June 13, 2008. Please take note that unlike the other sites you brought to our attention, the unique email address assigned to your site during that earlier visit actually received spam email. We have placed your site and the other sites you have mentioned into the queue for out-of-cycle re-testing.

In addition, we may have mis-communicated to you about what you needed to do to properly secure your site or to generate a re-test. Your concerns have only redoubled our efforts to be clearer in our communications with site owners like yourself.

Thank you again for sharing your concerns. Please do not hesitate to contact me with additional concerns or comments.


[signature removed]



Customer Service
AlpacaNation LLC
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Ellemae

114 Posts

Posted - 06/13/2008 :  12:16:32 PM  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
Thank you customer service. I appreciate all your hard work and time consumed.

GOOD JOB

Melody (Ellemae)
Double Creek Farm
Lebanon, Tn
615-286-4166
www.alpacanation.com/doublecreekfarm.asp
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