Blacklist vs. Blocklist

Grant Barrett gbarrett at WORLDNEWYORK.ORG
Wed Sep 10 17:26:34 UTC 2003

It appears the anti-spam community has been consciously moving toward
using "blocklist" instead of "blacklist" when referring to a list of
offending domains, servers or IP address which belong to or are used by
known spammers.

The two words are, as far as I can see, used interchangeably, often in
the same message. "Blocklist" is apparently being actively promoted
instead of blacklist because of what some folks see as excessively
negative connotations with "blacklist," with the McCarthy hearings
usually coming to mind. Interestingly, the antonym, no matter which is
used, seems to still be "whitelist."

A relevant post on the Spamcop email list:

An entry at SpamNews, from May 2003:

Usenet post about the terminology from 2001

This came to my attention because in March I installed SpamAssassin for
a client and do not remember encountering "blocklist" at all in any of
the supporting materials or on any of the web sites I read for
assistance. Yet, during the last two weeks--just six months later--I've
installed SpamAssassin for a different client, and I seemed to
encounter "blocklist" everywhere.

A quick Google News search for blacklist and spam shows that blocklist
has been in use for years by the anti-spam forces, but that it its use
has rapidly increased in the last 18 months. The usual caveats about
the accuracy of such searches apply.

9/10/2002-9/10/2003--13,100 hits for blacklist & spam
9/10/2002-9/10/2003--3010 hits for blocklist & spam

9/10/2001-9/10/2002--7840 hits for blacklist & spam
9/10/2001-9/10/2002--2100 hits for blocklist & spam

9/10/2000-9/10/2001--3680 hits for blacklist & spam
9/10/2000-9/10/2001--95 hits for blocklist & spam



Grant Barrett
gbarrett at
American Dialect Society webmaster

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