Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Junksale.co.uk's ridiculous restriction

I recently bought a 2m transverter that I found advertised on Junksale.co.uk. I'm not a member of the site, but it can be viewed by non-members, and the seller had put his email address so I didn't need to go through the site to contact him.

However, I wanted to join the site, both to give feedback to the seller and also because it seems like a good site for buying and selling ham radio equipment in the UK. But when I tried to register, I received a message that "your email address has been banned. Contact the webmaster"

Puzzled about how I could have been banned from a site I'd never even heard of until now, I contacted the webmaster. He replied that "the server does not accept free email addresses. Use an ISP email address." Well, I have news for him. I don't have an ISP email address. I use Gmail, like millions of other people. It's far more convenient to use an address you don't have to change whenever you change ISP. Plus, many people use an internet connection shared with other people so, even if an email address comes with the account, it isn't theirs to use. What a ridiculous restriction!

I could, of course, have used my work email address. In fact, I tried registering using that, and then changing it to my Gmail address afterwards, but I got the "your email address has been banned" message again. It's not convenient for me to use my work address for hobby matters, so that's no use.

I could, of course, set up an email address under my web hosting account for the g4ilo.com domain. But I don't want one. Gmail provides a far superior webmail client and is better at dealing with spam than anything else I have come across. And I long ago gave up using rubbish like Outlook Express, Microsoft Outlook and Thunderbird. Why on earth go to all the bother of downloading email to a personal computer so you have to use that PC to access it, when you can access Gmail from literally anywhere? Personal computer email clients are so 1990's.

So that's that. I'm not joing to jump through hoops and set up a special email address just because some webmaster has a thing about free email addresses. I'm afraid Junksale.co.uk has ended up in the trash can.


Unknown said...

Blame google for allowing organised spamming groups from the far east to use gmail so easily. Even hotmail and yahoo, who were very lax in sign-ups, have started to get their act together.
Anyone involved in large community websites has to deal with hundreds of automated registrations from spambots a day, it really isn't fun.

So, it may be annoying but there is very good reason behind it.

Unknown said...

I suspected that might have something to do with it. But there is really no reason why, after I contacted the webmaster (as the site advises you to do when it displays the "banned" message), he could not have established that I was a real radio amateur not a spammer and authorized my membership manually. My Gmail address even has my callsign in it.

Unknown said...

Personally I won't put automatic bans on gmail from a commerical viewpoint, although it would be very tempting after a night of 200 automated spambot registrations, with many posting pornography links all over the forums. That doesn't happen because I have staff all over the world keeping an eye on things but it is a real possibility for many smaller sites.
There are large number of Russian and Chinese domains I have in my baned list. @mail.ru and @sina.com to name but two.

Yes, if you contacted their forum admin to explain, they should be able to help you get around it but it is a little complicated as you need to create an account in the first place. The very fact that you have bothered to contact them should be enough to prove you are not a spammer.

Here's my standard reply:
Please register again but use a made-up/fictitious e-mail address i.e. blah@blah.org and this will allow you to create an account (although you will not be able to activate it). When you have done this, reply to me and tell me the username you have chosen and then I can manually enter your ******@sina.com e-mail address into your account and register you.

In addition:
Junksale appears to be using out of date vB forum software (risky from a security angle) but I believe they are going to upgrade. Upgrading to the latest software will give them far more options in terms of human verification techniques during registration to prevent spambots registering, although nothing is foolproof.