Blog abuse

Yesterday was EdCampLdn.

It was yet another great day of learning for me. Plus, it’s a chance to meet people face to face that I’d “known” for a while online.

One of the things that impressed me was that, with all these educators together in one spot, I didn’t hear a phone ring or send off a notification all day.

Including my own. That wasn’t surprising because I have my phone set to vibrate for notifications and they’re sent to my watch as well. It was going off all day, constantly. There were the usual Twitter notifications but most of them were coming from my blog.

Now, normally bloggers get a kick from people commenting but my blog was literally getting hammered with comments. In an environment like this, opening up your blog and messing around isn’t right so I sneaked a screen capture and investigated it once I got home.

This one blog post was being hit over and over with spam. How do I know spam as opposed to legitimate comments from “Juan Shurtleff”? I copied a substantial part of entire comment and did a search for the text. The same comment appears on blogs all over the place.

I guess it’s small consolation but Akismet did identify 94 of these comments as Spam but 30 still got through as approved comments. A bunch of mouse clicks later and I’d clean it but more kept coming. I finally threw in the towel and disabled comments on that particular post.

Lots of questions abound.

  • Why me?
  • Why this post? If you look, it’s four years old.
  • How long would it continue if I didn’t turn off commenting?
  • Since I’ve turned off commenting on that post, will it move to others?

It was a downer for an otherwise great day of learning.

Do any of you experienced bloggers have advice or insights?

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5 thoughts on “Blog abuse

  1. That’s so frustrating, Doug! Something like that happened to me a long time ago, and Jared investigated. I think the issue was that Akismet needed some kind of update. Hoping this problem goes away for you too.

    Aviva

  2. Thanks for the suggestion, Aviva. I’m not sure that that would solve this particular situation since it’s the free version of WordPress and I would hope that they’d keep it up to date. I see that you tagged blogging Guru Jared so I’m looking for his insights.

    In the meantime, I’m just hoping that my blog happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time! (at least for me) Why a post from four years ago was attractive is still a mystery to me.

    https://blog.nexcess.net/2017/09/08/why-do-spammers-attack-wordpress-sites/

  3. I’m not sure how to improve upon it on wordpress.com. Akismet seems to be their tool, which we also use on our self-hosted instance of WordPress. I know that in that world, I could purchase more robust spam protection through Jetpack, which we don’t do; perhaps this is something that the .com sites can also purchase through the different packages. In a self-hosted instance, we have used this plugin to block spam: https://wordpress.org/plugins/anti-spam/ in concert with Akismet, and it seems to deal with the majority of comments.

    My issue with Akismet was it was still letting everything through — even if it identified it as spam — and then hunderds of spam comments where living within the spam folder. When you are talking about a student blog, that spam content was often inappropriate, and I didn’t want it appearing at all. The Antispam plugin seems to just quietly block the comments from ever appearing. Another plugin we don’t use currently but was effective, was this (https://wordpress.org/plugins/cookies-for-comments/).

    I know this doesn’t help your site here Doug, but it might be helpful for others.

  4. Thanks for your thoughts and comments, Jared. Since I closed comments on that one blog post, activity here has been pretty quiet. Well, I can always count on a comment from Aviva. For some reason, a bot or whatever decided to pick on that one post. For giggles, I might unblock it and see what happens.

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