Blog Spam

We all have to deal with spam these days. Unfortunately its part of having a digital life. This blog gets much more spam than I do on any email account though (I have filtered out more than 83,000 comment spams in the past 12 months!). Most of it gets caught by filters, and the rest of it gets caught by me. Lately I’ve been dealing with a new kind of spam. I just read an article on the same thing over at Defensio. I agree with his guesses as to why spammers are hitting us with worthless comments, and thought I’d write on how I’m dealing with it.

The spam that I’m getting these days contains short notes with no links or identifying remarks. The comments are so generic that I usually just delete them anyway, plus I don’t want for these spams to start clearing filters, but I have let a couple of them slip through.

If you want to show these comments on your blog without giving them permission to come back and post a hundred links, here’s what I do.

1) I use a spam filter to weed them out. This catches the vast majority. Its so good that I’ve just come to trust it entirely. If a comment gets caught by that filter, then I don’t even look at it, it just gets deleted.

2) I have my blog set that so that I have to approve comments from new users. Everyone has to have their comment approved by me at some point, otherwise it doesn’t make it through.

3) If I suspect that they’re spammers, but the comment is harmless and I choose to post it, I change their email address before approving the comment. I change it to something like so that I can later recognize that I changed the address. The spammer will no doubt come back to my blog to see if they can post again, but since they don’t know the email address associated with their account (the modified one that I’ve created), they essentially have to start over.

If it weren’t for these tools, allowing comments wouldn’t be worthwhile because spammers are working hard to schlep their wares. I’m glad that sites are working together to find ways of dealing with it.

4 replies on “Blog Spam”

  1. Interesting. So why do we call it spam? I’ve never asked this question before but today I am curious.

  2. Good question. I’ve wondered it myself in the past, but never had the umptitude to look it up. This comes from Wikipedia (is there anything they don’t know?).

    In the 1980s the term was adopted to describe certain abusive users who frequented BBSs and MUDs, who would repeat “SPAM” a huge number of times to scroll other users’ text off the screen. In early Chat rooms services like PeopleLink and the early days of AOL, they actually flooded the screen with quotes from the Monty Python Spam sketch. This was used as a tactic by insiders of a group that wanted to drive newcomers out of the room so the usual conversation could continue. It was also used to prevent members of rival groups from chatting — for instance, Star Wars fans often invaded Star Trek chat rooms, filling the space with blocks of text until the Star Trek fans left. This act, previously called flooding or trashing, came to be known as spamming. The term was soon applied to a large amount of text broadcasted by many users.

    Pretty interesting, huh?

  3. Nice! I have had so much spam on my blog in the past few weeks that I had to install one of the spam programs that came with Word Press. It’s already helped a ton!!

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