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Definition

whitelist

A whitelist is a list of e-mail addresses or domain names from which an e-mail blocking program will allow messages to be received. E-mail blocking programs, also called a spam filters, are intended to prevent most unsolicited e-mail messages (spam) from appearing in subscriber inboxes. But these programs are not perfect. Cleverly crafted spam gets through, and a few desired messages are blocked. Most Internet users can tolerate the occasional unsolicited e-mail advertisement that a spam filter misses, but are concerned by the thought that an important message might not be received. The whitelist option is a solution to the latter problem. The list can be gradually compiled over a period of time, and can be edited whenever the user wants.

Some spam filters delete suspected junk e-mail messages straightaway, but others allow the user to place them in a quarantined inbox. Periodically, the quarantined messages are observed to see if any of them are legitimate messages. This option is used by some Web-based e-mail clients in place of, or in addition to, a whitelist.

Also see blacklist.

TechTarget is responding to readers' concerns as well as profound cultural changes when it comes to certain commonly used but potentially linguistically biased terms. In some cases, we are defaulting to industry-standard terminology that may be seen as linguistically biased in instances where we have not found a replacement term. However, we are actively seeking out and giving preference to terms that properly convey meaning and intent without the potential to perpetuate negative stereotypes.

This was last updated in September 2005
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