A Victorian responds to comment spam…

Today – after receiving a few more pseudo-comments from people whose home URLs contain the word “blowjob” – I also received the following:

If you don’t want certain types of homepages listed such as ones about sex then you need to turn off allowing homepage url’s to be listed with the comments. I don’t know what your problem is with sex sites, perhaps you are a victorian or a religious fanatic, beats me, but you do have the option to turn off homepage url listing with the comments.

The interesting thing about the person who decided to leave this message (which like so many was stuck on the end of my piece about the evils of weblog comment spammers) was that they don’t seem to be able to to understand the difference between someone engaging in a conversation and someone coming into your space and trying to sell you something. And they don’t seem able to understand that taking advantage of other people’s good-will to whore your own products and services is innappropriate – that it’s wrong.

The reason – obviously – that webloggers allow individuals to put links to their homepages in their comments is so that we can strengthen links and ties between the members of our heavily abstracted community. We do it so that if people find a comment interesting they can go and read more about the person who commented. The cynicism involved in using such things for pure Google-juice – just to try and scrabble people to your porno site for a few extra cents – is just disgusting. And it’s not because it’s pornography, it’s because it’s brazen, disrespectful and offensive.

I’m trying to find a good strategy for resolving this situation, but in the meantime I’m just going to change the URLs to pages about the evils of spamming, if I don’t just delete them. I’ll try and collate some useful links as soon as I am able.

17 replies on “A Victorian responds to comment spam…”

If I may make a suggestion as to how to stop these unwanted posts…
Most comment-spammers are scripts I guess, not actual persons submitting forms.
So you need an algorithm to separate scripts from humans.
One way could be to put a hidden field in your form that is (server-side) filled with the current time. Comments that are submitted in less than (say) 3 seconds can be safely ignored.
Another way would be to let a (second) hidden field be filled by some javascript on the client. An automated submit-script will probably not be able to execute the javascript properly. The server can check on submittal whether or not there was a submit-script running or a browser.
Just some ideas.
Good luck.

You could also try something like the system used by – the first time you e-mail someone who is using this filter, the system automatically sends an e-mail requesting you to click a link to a page to verify you are an actual human rather than a spam robot. All you need to do is enter the number that appears on the page into the field – the catch is that the number appears as a gif or jpg, so only a real person could interpret it.
You could do the same thing for your comments page by having a gif/jpg with a code word or number and an extra field for the info to be entered (a null field or wrong repsonse means the comment would not get posted). As that would be a pain to most regular commenters, you could always have that logged in a cookie after the first successful attempt, or keep a database of “friendly” URLs.
By the way – it would be nice to be able to enter an e-mail address like hatespamAThotmailDOTcom in the comments form, so your loyal readers don’t get more spam either.

More links than you can shake a stick at…
Yesterday, I didn’t get around to all of my blogroll entries. Well that has been remedied today. I hope I didn’t miss anyone! The rule, for me, was to find other technical blog entries in the blogosphere. My first cut…

Yeah I saw Andrew’s article, and I honestly didn’t know what to say. It seemed so blatantly skewed towards rant. I wonder what the corresponding churn is like for YahooGroups.

Just a wee idea but could you not add like a small script to you comments post which looks for words such as blowjob and replaces them with jibberish?? just a thought. That way these parasites would just be wasting their time.

Leaping in to state the bleedin’ obvious: filtering on individual words is a terrible idea. In the first place, it’s awfully indiscriminate — McChris’s post would fall foul for including “blowjob” and so would this one (admittedly no great loss). In the second, the real problem isn’t that the spam is advertising something sexual, but that it is hijacking the blog to advertise anything at all — a spam advertising weblog software could be just as reprehensible. Trying to filter out everything that might be spam by simple word matching is a hopeless task. Requiring users to read and acknowledge some image token might help — and I don’t think it’s too onerous a requirement — but it’s conceivable that at least some spam comments are posted by humans, in which case they’ll thwart such precautions easily. I wish I had something more helpful to add, but short of instituting a reign of terror in which spammers are brutally slaughtered and their heads displayed on pikes as a deterrent I can’t see anything working in more than the most temporary way. The spam war has been going on much longer in email and on Usenet, and although things like Bayesian filters can help stem the tide a bit we’re still nowhere near a convincing solution.

Make some of your readers into comment moderators with the power to delete/edit crap posts.

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I started just like yourself, deleting or changing the urls. After doing that a few times, I found that the spams on my blog were now including the url inside the text of the comment. I am currently contemplating using one of the blacklists, while manually deleting the spam comments on a daily basis.

The are bunch of ways to fix this problem.
I could give you one adwise. You just need to enable content filtering. For example do not allow
people to put links that contain words like :
sex, blowjob, anal, … in the comments.
For example the following will for in your site.
Best blowjob movies.

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