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ORBS to be reborn? Not bloody likely, says Alan Brown

The egos take over

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Since the unexpected demise of anti-spam company ORBS, there has been quite some discussion on the news.admin.net-abuse.email and spam-l newsgroups.

Several people have thrown themselves and their egos into the mix, vowed to take on the mantle of ORBS and to lead it into the future (only the Doctor changes, the Tardis remains the same). One has gone so far as to produce a blueprint for a new ORBS.

But despite the various grand plans being drawn up, the current owner of the ORBS list, Alan Brown, has dismissed efforts so far as "ego wanking".

One - Michael Rawls, a sysadmin for Dancris Telecom (a US ISP), who once found a minor defect in an email program - posted: "A replacement for ORBS is in the works. The domain name has been registered. The code is being tested, and the web page is being built. The server is already on-line. Currently it is testing and updating the existing ORBS database. I'll release more details and the official domain name as the project evolves."

Chris Fuhrman, a techie at call centre specialist Twenty First Century Communications, has uploaded a pdf file of his Relay Abuse Deterrent System (RADS) vision, although it has been roundly criticised by other posters (and all the main "rads" URLs have already gone).

And this is the crunch. The whole ORBS/MAPS/anti-spam company debate over the last few years has centered almost entirely on the rules of engagement. Every prospective new entry to the market has a new way of approaching an old problem. What all of them have forgotten, as one poster pointed out, is that without "a very, very, very thick skin" none of them stand a chance.

Another good point is that if you wish to be an active anti-spammer i.e. look for possible problems rather than wait for them to happen, you need to be based somewhere where litigation isn't a reflex action. That rules out the US and now Australia and New Zealand. (The UK still looks like a fair bet to us, but best to find some offshore tax haven.)

Also stirring up trouble was John Warren, the president of Warren Engineering in California (but where's the Web site?) and Julian Haight from SpamCop (but he's too busy at the moment).

The point is that Alan Brown still owns ORBS, it's his baby, and any other new ORBS will either be out of date or will require a huge amount of effort and strife. ORBS has always been the in-your-face anti-spam company: who will realistically take on the mantle when such characters as Alan Hodgson and Alan Brown have been battered?

According to an email from Alan Brown, there is still hope for his version: "ORBS has multiple hosting offers. I can't take them up for the same reason I can't talk to you about things," he told us in an email.

Despite all this negativity though, Mr Brown still accepts that if someone sets something up and gets the backing (a tough call) then it'll be a success.

We watch and wait. ®

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