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August 4, 2004

comment spam

(Warning: if you have a blog of your own, you already know what I'm about to say, and this may be boring.) My blog usually gets hit four or five times a day by "spam." People post ads, often for extremely unsavory products, as comments. Their motive is to generate links to their own sites so that they will rank higher on Google searches. Spammers use software to place their comments, so that they can post many in a short time. Last night, I was hit by more than 100 separate comments, all advertising a particularly disgusting and illegal form of pornography. These comments are difficult to remove with MovableType--it takes five clicks plus a certain amount of waiting to get rid of each one. MoveableType allows you to block particular computers from posting comments, but spammers now hide their identity by using fake IP addresses. Every one of last night's spam comments had a different address.

There are solutions. For example, you can change the technical structure of your site so that it's much harder for programs to "know" automatically how to post comments. This kind of change is not easy for someone like me to make, however--it would take me at least an afternoon, and I would probably mess it up at first.

The other kind of solution essentially involves restricting public uses of one's site. I could, for example, block all comments on old entries. However, I like the serious remarks that periodically appear on archived posts. I could get rid of comments altogether and tell people just to email me. But that barrier might discourage participation. So it's a dilemma, and it exemplifies the dark side of all open networks.

If any spammer reads this (and I'm sure they won't), I would make one request. If you are going to advertise some kind of exploitative sex involving minors as a response to one of my earnest comments about civility or civic education, please don't compound the insult by writing "Nice site," or "Good point" in the comment field. It drives me nuts.

August 4, 2004 2:31 PM | category: Internet and public issues | Comments


I am very much feeling your pain. In fact, I'm in the process of turning off new commenting on all my previous posts (I don't get the same sort of traffic or responses that you do, so I don't think I'm impacting any significant audience).

If you manage a solution for the less technically adept, please share. And amen to the dissonance of extremely raunchy URLS and descriptions paired with bland compliments.

August 5, 2004 12:46 AM | Comments (3) | posted by Eli

I must be the only blogger in the planet with zero experience using Movable Type, but I think the "visual" filter is probably the best one. Jesse and Ezra over at pandagon (http://www.pandagon.net) have it set up; you could ping them and see if they have an FAQ lying around on how to install it.

Personally I think this is happy middleground.

August 5, 2004 1:03 PM | Comments (3) | posted by niq

"If any spammer reads this (and I'm sure they won't)..."

Don't be so sure. These are intelligent parasites, it's not like getting rid of gophers - unless said gophers can eavesdrop on their hosts' conversations.

August 10, 2004 9:03 PM | Comments (3) | posted by Anna

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