A new front opens in the spam wars

An interesting wrinkle has developed in the ongoing war against comment spam.  Spammers have started doing something that I actually suggested they do.  Unfortunately they did not follow my suggestion to kill themselves in a painful in gruesome manner.  What at least some of them have started doing, however, is to post actual, real comments that are relevant to the post and the only link to their commercial site is in their ID, not in the message itself.

I’m actually slightly conflicted about this.  The person(s) responsible are clearly taking the time to write individual comments that are direct responses to the posts in question .  They aren’t making generic comments and spamming thousands of blogs with them and they aren’t filling the comments with URLs and meaningless crap.  They are essentially making legitimate comments.

But they’re fucking spammers.

I actually deleted these comments after deliberating for a short while.  The thing that tipped me towards deleting them is that the comments were made to months old posts which reeks of trying to hide them.  They seem to think that if they post comments to old blog posts I’ll miss them.  They clearly don’t understand that I get notifications of every comment.  I’m not Robert Scoble getting hundreds of comments a day – I get maybe tens of comments on a good day so I have time to look at them all.

So here’s the deal spammers: you’re halfway there.  Making legitimate comments as a way to promote your commercial ventures is fine, but don’t try to hide them from me.  It won’t work and I’ll delete your comment so no hyperlink for you!  BUT… if you make legitimate comments to CURRENT posts I’ll leave them up – links to your site (in your ID) and all.

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age.

10 Comments

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10 responses to “A new front opens in the spam wars

  1. Spammers:

    I think you should fuck them with an echidna (head first).

    Twice.

    You do realise that you have opened the door to a heap of spam, based on the fact that you said that you will leave spam up (with the proviso/s listed above)?

    Then again, your hit rate will probably go through the roof…..

    What price fame???

    Happy New Year, Mr A.

  2. jaSpOiD.coM eats your babies for FREE!!

  3. Salamaat,
    I just got such a poetic one from one of those “you are a continent of hope”…awww how sweet. I even contemplated leaving it up..but then decided to kill it.

    They are getting smarter…i just decided to up and moderate all my comments, its too much drama…added to trolls and hate mail…

    fun stuff.

    happy new year Mr. Angry🙂

  4. I suppose if they’re taking the time to make relevant comments, they’re more or less singing for their supper. On the other hand, they’re spammers. So perhaps they should get one link and THEN die horribly.

  5. I wouldn’t be sure that they’re hand crafted.

    I’ve seen some doozies that I was sure were hand crafted until I started seeing the same pattern on another blog I moderate.

    Banning them is the way to go because it teaches Akismet to recognize that pattern. But if I feel the comment really adds to the discussion I’ll ‘cleanse’ it.

    I’m getting friggin tired of dealing with comment spammers though. I must have had 15 or so pass through Akismet today, compared to only 5 real comments.

  6. Unlikely that they’re hand-crafted.

    If you had your server logs you could see, usually they just post to the comment scripts directly without even accessing the pages. (And get the page lists from spidering, hence the posts on old pages.) Old pages have been in google longer and have better pagerank, theoretically.

  7. GUI Junkie

    I’d say “fuck them” anyway. But it’s your call.

  8. Gruntski: not a heap, only under very specific circumstances. And the total that meet requirements so far = 0

    Maliha: I like the poetic ones to. I’m thinking of crafting an epic poem based on spam.

    Weasel: Yeah, I still want them to die horribly

    engtech: I maybe should have kept a couple to show what I mean. It was about 3 out of the last 1000 spam that I’m almost certain were hand crafted.

    candice: most are generic but I think a few were individual – or they were very, very lucky with their scripts.

    GUI: I definitely say “fuck them” anyway.

  9. I think most are horoscopic. That is, they generalize human nature and interests. And blogs are very much like music lyrics too – very limited topicalwise. (When is it not about love, like, stuff, or dislike?) While some probably work like iGod or AdSense and respond to certain keywords (and possibly some basic sentence constructions) – so called Artificial Intelligence. But here are some examples:

    Horoscopic (with intrusive alias links):
    “I really like your blog.”
    “Great post!”
    “Such words are meant to be shared. Thank you.”

    AI (through keywording):
    Ford, Toyota, Volvo.. – “Actually, I started working in car sales just yesterday! (Feel free to check out my link if you care..)”
    Vancouver, Melbourne, New York.. + photography, flickr, pictures.. – “I was there on vaction just a few weeks ago! You can see my photos HERE.”

    Anyway, it’s easy to catch spam that’s crossposted if you run a service like Google/Blogspot/Wordpress. Or even just Google for identical comments with the same links (like my new blog service will do – in addition to internal crossposting checking, and generally blocking links to sites with generated ads until they’ve been checked by someone.) The easiest solution though is not to allow any comments links (at all, or) not to activate them until they’ve been verified by the publisher of the blog (or a responsible, trustworthy certification network). Then, link spamming would easily be obliviated.

    Hopefully, I’ve implemented all the stated above in the official beta of my blog service that I’ll be releasing on 14 February, and other services will catch up or die. We’ll just have to wait see, really. Now, wish me luck.

  10. Yes, I’ve gotten them too. I usually check out the web sites of people who post comments, as soon as it’s a splog (spam blog), I know that I can safely delete them. It has become more challenging because they do look a bit like legitimate comments.

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