Spamalicious

Spammers continue their barrage of comment spam on my blog (currently over 100 a day) and Akismet continues to hand them their balls on a platter.  I don’t understand why this isn’t a bigger story.  Akismet should be getting a fucking ticker-tape parade.  Everyone bemoans spam and all the problems it causes and wonders what the solution might be.  Apparently the answer is Akismet.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on the technology behind it but I’d love to know why it isn’t directly applicable to email. 

Akismet has blocked over 7,500 comment spam in the last six months, the thought of having to delete all of those manually is horrifying to contemplate.  It’s at least 99% effective – hardly any comment spam get through and there are very few false positives (meaning I have to recover genuine comments that were misidentified as spam).  Although, here’s a warning: careful about putting links in comments, this is often a red flag for spam filters.  And with the tsunami of comment spam I’m getting at the moment there’s a high risk I might miss any false positive thus losing the comment forever.

The stats on the Akismet site are scary – they’ve collectively blocked over 310 million spam and catch several hundred thousand more every day.  By their estimation 93% of all comments are spam.  This seems on par with many estimates for the proportion of spam email as well.

I have to admit, sometimes the spammers get creative – the comment is nothing but a flattering comment and the only link is in the message header.  Some of these were so flattering I was tempted to leave them up.  Actually, a message to the porn spammers: if your porn was any good I’d probably let the comments pushing them stay up.  But the links don’t even go to real porn site, just these stupid link farms aimed at screwing advertising dollars out of various companies.  Or at least I’ve heard their porn isn’t any good.  I don’t spend all my time going through comments spam looking for good porn, who suggested that?

But I don’t have a significant problem with spam email either.  Both my gmail and yahoo accounts have spam filters that are nearly 100% effective so I just have to check occasionally to make sure there are no false positives there instead of having to wade through mountains of spam to get to my real email.

So why does spam keep happening?

If there was any intelligence or direction behind the comment spam they surely would have given up on targeting WordPress blogs ages ago.  This leads me to believe that most of it is coming from zombie nets.  Foolish people without sufficient anti-virus protection whose hijacked computers are spewing out millions of spam without them realising it.  I can’t help thinking that some people are just too stupid to be allowed to have a computer.  Then again, I think that there are lots of people who are too stupid to be allowed to breathe.  One day I’ll get my way.

I still advocate that those mega rich IT types should forget about solving world hunger and disease and instead donate a bit of their money to hiring hitmen to kill spammers.  Not quietly and secretly either; video their executions and put it up on YouTube.  Now that’s a video I’d pay to see!  Actually, if you want some cathartic reading, try this article from Wired about the gruesome murder of a Russian spam king.

Microsoft are trumpeting their shiny new anti-virus and anti-spam weapons which, based on their track record, is probably bullshit but from what I’ve seen they’re going about it the wrong way anyhow.  They’re obsessing over stopping spam and viruses from coming in – other people have that covered.  Surely it would be easier for them to stop spam from being sent out? 

The old-school spammers sent all the spam themselves but that’s the past.  These days, they have idiots with unprotected PCs sending all the spam on their behalf.  I would think that it isn’t rockets science to have an application on PCs that knows when email and/or applications are being sent out that can actually stop the process and alert the user.  Something along the lines of stopping suspicious levels of activity and producing a pop-up saying “You’re sending out hundreds of messages which suggests your machine is being used to send spam.  Do you want to stop sending these messages?”

Maybe make it more threatening for the really stupid users so they get the message.  “You may be legally liable if you do not take the appropriate action,” or “We’re going to use your IP address to work out your physical location and send someone around to kick the crap out of you.”

Before anyone says violence isn’t the answer, hear me out.  We haven’t used (enough) violence against spammers so far and spam keeps getting worse.  It’s only fair and logical that we give extreme violence a chance and see if that works.  I want to explore all the options.

13 Comments

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13 responses to “Spamalicious

  1. wow – amazing stats and I am so for violence for hem and stock spammers.

    or make spammers sit around and delete spam on real bad blogs all day

  2. Oh yeah, you get a special flavour in the stock world – MUST BUY!!!!!! THIS ONE’S GONNA POP!!!!1!!1!!!11

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  4. You gotta watch this one like a hawk!!! It’s gonna explode (right in your fuckin face, you asshole spam-meister pricks).

    Go Mr Angry!! Slam the Spam (with a shovel)!!!

  5. I agree. Death by decapitation to spammers. As always, your wit makes me laugh. I am happy to report that I still do not have a life. Nevergirl is the corporate stiff who happens to be the Jekyll to my Hyde. The comment I posted in her site is a “test” run. Hahaha. One of these days, I will go back to being that nut again. It gets confusing at times, juggling these personalities. You seem to be managing pretty well. Do all the people inside your head draw lots on who will blog on which days? =)

    I will always lurk in your site. I’m one germ you cannot shake off. I bet if all spammers attacked your blog as enthusiastically as I lurk, Akismet’s stats would take a beating.

  6. i recall a few months back in Wired magazine, a story about a Russian spammer, who was eventually beaten to death in his apartment, so i guess in this one case, at least, violence was used. did it work? that depends on how you look at it. which drop of water was causing that flood?

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  8. Ozymandias

    Akismet has done a fine job of keeping my blog clean.

  9. gruntski: something’s gotta happen to these bastards sometime soon

    chloe: aren’t you the sneaky one😉 I tend to use the video blogging to let all the “voices” out of my head. I’m up to six distinct personalities now.

    Tom: yeah, there’s a link to that story in this post. While his death was more a straightforward robbery than punishment for his spamming, it’s still satisfying to read about him having his skull beat in.

    Ozy: I can’t say enough good things about Akismet.

  10. “Spammers should all die!” is the usual scream.

    My gut instinct is that spamming has long been moved into the automated arena. We are all getting spammed by bots and it will continue and never stop. I have gotten over 3900 spams since starting my blog at the end of May.

    As your blog gets a better ranking and more page views, the spams increase. I get a hundred a day as you do.

  11. You know, Mr. Angry, so much of the “zombie” spam could be shut down if people would just use the correct settings on Outlook. That and a firewall that stops unauthorized outgoing stuff is all it takes. It seems drastic, but maybe we should institute a “driver’s license”-type system for computers.

  12. I’m not sure what to do about the problem. As long as there are gullible people in the world there will be Spam. Spam is just the result of gullible, naive and stupid people using computers. Those people have money so hence SPAM exists to get money from the people who use computers. Now that it has been proved that there is money in this SPAM/Phishing game organized crime has made entree into battle. The CDW Commercial with the office executive who exclaims “I opened that email you told everybody not to open” happens all to often from people who exhibit total cluelessness. Maybe everyone should have an Internet drivers license before the jump on the “Information Super Highway.”

    Im sorry I think today has made me steal some of your Angry Thunder….

  13. Range: I agree, the biggest problem these days is people with infected systems

    kyklops: I don’t know about drastic, requiring some basic intelligence before allowing someone to have a computer seems like a good idea to me.

    marrngtn: I refuse to believe there isn’t a solution to 99% of the problem – it just has to be taken seriously. I still think the public execution of serious perpetrators is the best idea.

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