A domain with a checkered past

I work at a company that purchased a .com domain around a year ago, and it uses this domain for its web site and e-mail now. However, the previous owner had a site (last online several years back) on the domain which was pornographic in nature. The site is now G-rated and has no adult or otherwise offensive content whatsoever.

E-mail blacklists have not been a problem, but some web content filter blacklists seem to block the site. We've sent e-mails to various providers, such as Sophos, that we have found to block the site to request review and removal.

These requests usually get us removed eventually, however, sometimes it is difficult to determine what the blocking engine is. For example, recently someone reported that if they go to the web site on a Virgin America flight, it redirects to the Virgin America homepage as if a content filter triggered a redirect. It's hard to tell what mechanism they're running.

How to get unlisted?

My question is: What is the best way to approach getting removed from content filter blacklists? Are there services/consultants that specialize in this? Or shall I truly be reduced to a game of whack-a-mole trying to hunt down and e-mail these blacklist/content filter operators as we notice problems?

  • 1
    This does not sound like a security-related question. Can you find out whether Webmasters SE is a more appropriate site for this?
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 12, 2017 at 20:17
  • 1
    Technically it is security-related. Security companies create blacklists based on URL names, content, etc. It's a big industry. For example, safe browsing addons from anti-virus companies, etc. It's really complicated, and I think it's fine here. Dec 12, 2017 at 20:34
  • 1
    This is a bit on the line. Blacklists are security, but the specific details on how to get removed from non-standard filters is not really a security question. This is a case where I won't make a call either way. I can see both sides.
    – schroeder
    Dec 12, 2017 at 20:35
  • The problem is that if someone used a blacklist service, once it got registered, they might have maintained the list, even if the service where they got it from de-listed it. I think this is a whack-a-mole situation.
    – schroeder
    Dec 12, 2017 at 20:36
  • 1
    I must admit that I'm very curious about the domain name now ...
    – schroeder
    Dec 12, 2017 at 22:19

2 Answers 2


There are a LOT of blacklists.

I use often this tool, and it currently shows 103 blacklists. You might need to check each of these:


  • 1
    Thanks for this, I had checked it before and the domain is OK on all lists. However, I think this is because it's an SMTP/MX blacklist rather than for naughty content. Dec 12, 2017 at 20:57
  • the link above includes MX and spam blacklists as well as web reputation black lists
    – schroeder
    Dec 12, 2017 at 22:20

It's going to be a game of whack-a-mole, unfortunately. Back in the 90s you could harass Cybersitter and NetNanny and solve most of your problems, but the internet is a very different place now.

Any vendor is free to come up with their own blacklist and/or aggregate existing public lists and sell it to enterprises as a filtering solution. There is no single source of DNS blacklists, and in fact there are many for a variety of purposes.

That said, I'd track down all the public content filter blacklists like squidblacklist.org, OpenDNS and the like, see if you're on their lists and file removal requests. Once you disappear from the public lists, changes tend to matriculate to the blacklists of vendors who incorporate these sources.

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