Comment spam woes

Posted by Pierre Igot in: Blogging
December 14th, 2004 • 1:26 am

Please be advised that Betalogue is currently being subjected to large amounts of comment spam, which explains why you might see seemingly unrelated comments about gambling and what not in the “Recent Comments” box on the home page.

I am unfortunately all too familiar with spam registrations coming from people with accounts. I am doing my best to deal with those, and the next version of pMachine (due out soon?) is supposed to have built-in features to combat this kind of junk.

Right now, however, Betalogue is being subjected to another kind of spam, where someone is using ever-changing e-mail addresses to submit comments with a bit of text and a link to gambling sites. The e-mail addresses used look like this:

Needless to say, the strings of characters are changing all the time. And unfortunately, this person is also submitting their spam comments from ever-changing IP addresses, which means that I cannot easily block them by banning their IP address.

This whole thing sucks, really. Blogging software is about empowerment. An ordinary citizen like myself is able to operate his own “publishing machine”. But comment spam and other forms of exploitation are threatening this. Simply put, as an ordinary citizen, I do not have the resources required to combat such vicious spamming.

If this continues, I’ll have to shut down the comments altogether. It would be a big step backwards in terms of reader-friendliness. But what else can I do? I cannot spend my days manually deleting spam comments whenever they crop up.

One also has to wonder: Do these spammers really think that I’d be stupid enough to leave their comments untouched on my blog? What exactly are they hoping for? That Betalogue readers will catch the URL of their gambling sites during the handful of minutes during which the spam comments are visible on my site and rush to their gambling sites to spend their money?

It’s mind-numbingly stupid. But they keep doing it. I know that people say that, even if it only manages to attract one customer to their site, it’s a success for the spammers. But obviously the attacks that Betalogue is being subjected to are not even about that. I am pretty sure that the spammers make absolutely no connection between the number of customers that their spam comments on my site actually attract (i.e. zero) and the choice of my blog as a spamming target. I am pretty sure that they use automated tools that simply attack every blogging system with vulnerabilities out there, regardless of how popular the blog is or how diligent the blog system manager is about fighting spam. That’s modern technology for you. The problem is that, if it keeps up, I am going to have to shut things down.

As I said, it sucks.

4 Responses to “Comment spam woes”

  1. Pierre Igot says:

    I am aware that they are trying to increase their Google ranking. But if I delete the comments right away, they won’t get that desired effect. Yet they keep bombarding me… Anyway, with the new, more stringent registration measures, I hope that this particular problem will be eliminated. Thanks for your feedback.

  2. Warren Beck says:

    I think these people are trying to drive their Google link scores higher by placing lots of links pointing to their home sites on various blogs and wikis. Mark Bernstein (of Tinderbox fame, at Eastgate Systems) has indicated that the Tinderbox wiki pages are being deluged with spam from .ru sites. It is a very frustrating problem that is approaching the significance (and annoyance) of the Nigerian spams that have plagued everyone over the last few years.

  3. Pierre Igot says:

    Good idea. I am going to give the more stringent options for member registrations a shot. As far as I can tell, there’s no option for “manual” authorizations, but I can require all people who want to submit a comment to register first, and I can require registrations to go through an activation process. This might help.

    Thanks for the prodding :).

  4. LoonyPandora says:

    I’m not familiar with pMachine, but is it not possible to manually ‘authorise’ new signups, and turn off guest commenting?

    It might be a way to trim things down a bit, but it will give you a bit more work since you will have to manually authorise every person who signs up.

    Worth a shot :-)

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