Taking action

Yesterday, I vented a bit about the spammers that slam this blog on a regular basis. It seems to come in waves but when it does, it is really annoying. If all it was was annoying, I might just move on.

Before I move on, I should note that Akismet does a terrific job of catching most of the spam so that it never shows up on the blog. But, every now and again, it does.

And that bugs me.

I’ve done a lot of reading to try and get my head around why this happens. The comments themselves aren’t necessarily evil in content – I could sure come up with a lot more caustic words. As far as I can tell, it’s all about social engineering. Often, the posts will contain a link to somewhere or a profile/use containing a link presumably to their own blog but typically to somewhere else. The goal is to get clicks and maybe even scam people into giving away information. None of this is something that I want to be a party to.

In doing my research, apparently Google’s site ranking will cut you down if you’re allowing those things on your blog. Ironically, I think that most people land here because they’re regular readers and subscribe or follow the link I send out on Twitter every morning and that it’s the spammers that have searched and found me. Just a conspiracy theory; I have my tin foil hat on.

The thing that gets me is that the attacks seldom happen on the “post of the day”. As I noted yesterday, these comments tend to be on old posts. For example, this thing showed up this morning.

Please don’t type any of the information into your browser!

Of course you wouldn’t. Readers here are pretty sophisticated!

The actual post was called Feeling old and went live on March 15, 2018. I’ve long since forgotten about the post and, if you’re a regular reader around here, you’ve probably forgotten as well. But I just read it; it was a nice post and Aviva Dunsiger and Lisa Noble commented. And, the above spammer tried.

So, what is a blogger to do? It truly bothers me.

  • Quit Blogging – this is the easiest solution and would definitely stop the problem. I could just shutter this place and let them go somewhere else
  • Don’t allow replies – this is an alternative that many people have opted for. You can’t reply on the blog but certainly could continue the conversation in other places – Twitter, Facebook, etc.
  • Moderate all replies – again, this a popular alternative for some. No reply appears until it’s been approved. It’s probably a failsafe approach but I know that I don’t like it when I reply and it doesn’t appear immediately. I wouldn’t want to pass that along to visitors

I spent some time going through the settings on the blog in the Discussions settings area and there’s a couple of features that I find intriguing.

One is to close off replies after a certain period of time. That might be the answer to these spammers that head for the old posts. Just make them unavailable. I’m going to try that option and close off replies at 7 days. So, if you want to comment, you have a week to do so. That seems reasonable.

The other feature was actually something that I had started a while ago and I’m guessing lost interest or it was too much work. It was to blacklist certain email addresses. It sounds reasonable enough although it’s easy enough to create yet another new spam address.

My settings appear above. Any blogging genius is welcome to tell me what else I could do to try and tame this.

Signed – frustrated at the keyboard.


3 thoughts on “Taking action

  1. The last two options–comments must be manually approved, and comment author must have a previously approved comment. Does that mean once you have approved a commenter that any future comments from them don’t have to be approved?

    That’s the way the mail lists I run work. It works well.

    Don’t you think that would be a better option (assuming it works the way I described)? It’s a bit of extra work in the beginning, but maybe things will run smoother after awhile.

    Personally, I’m not happy to seeing you close the door on comments after just seven days. Why stop the conversations?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting insights, Peter. As for the seven days thing, I’ve found that most legitimate commenters are typically in action on the same day as the post or within a couple of days. It just seemed like an easy way to handle those spamming year old posts.

    I like your logic about the previously approved comment. Your writing helped me think it through. I’ve just changed the settings to see what happens. I just hope that I don’t end up inconveniencing regulars. Hopefully, if they’ve been approved in the past, there will be nothing for them to notice.

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom, Peter. It’s appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Good morning Doug!

    Both you and Alan Levine periodically provide readers with a selection of choice spam comments that you have received. Whenever I see such a post, I normally take the opportunity to read through and enjoy both the bizarre grammar of the spammer and the creative responses that you come up with.

    I like Peter’s suggestions. I know it’s probably been a while since you did this, but how about documenting the results of your experiment over the next little while? Let us know the number of daily spam comments that accumulate versus the number of valid first time commenters. I think Akismet is pretty good at separating the wheat from the chaff, and so I don’t think you have many valid comments going into spam, but do you check for those manually?


    Liked by 1 person

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