Brainstorms and Raves

Notes on Web Design, Development, Standards, Typography, Music, and More

Mon

2

AUG

2004

Comment Spammers Persevere, Including Adding New Tricks

An automated spam-bomber attacked my weblog last week and again in a much bigger way over the weekend, with comment denials every 6-11 seconds, as reported in my Movable Type Activity Log. Thankfully ALL 93 attempts were futile, however, thanks to Jay Allen’s MTBlacklist. A new tactic, “spam piggybacking,” is also on the rise.

Take a look at a copy/paste from my Activity Log’s Comment Denials, and you’ll see the automated spam-bomber’s comment denials every 6-11 seconds Saturday, frequently changing IP addresses, trying to add 88 Comment Spams in 39 minutes, from 08:43am to 09:22am.

The same spammer tried that tactic earlier in the week, with comment denials every 6-11 seconds, but only 5 times, each time with a different IP address. It’s curious that even though the efforts failed the first time that the person came back with a vengeance a few days later to try again, once again failing. I’ve considered the possibility that the first time was a test run, but yet if it failed, then why did the person bother trying again a few days later with a spam bombing tactic? It’s a mystery to me right now. You’ll find some of the same IP addresses both days. Update Tue - Aug 10, 2004: The person attacked again this morning with the same MO: an updated copy/paste from my Activity Log’s Comment Denials. While I’m glad the efforts are failing, what can I do to get this spam-bombing nonsense to stop?!

Those who use MTBlacklist and have followed discussions already know that trying to block spam by IP address is not the way to go. This comment spammer’s automated approach that included frequently changing IP addresses underlines why and is one of the reasons why I use MTBlacklist, in addition to getting email for every comment and trackback at my site.

New Comment Spam Approach: Spam Piggybacking

The other day Jay Allen wrote about a new comment spam tactic, spam piggybacking that Adam Kalsey reported last week:

It appears the spammers have a new tactic in increasing their PageRank. They find a site that doesn’t delete comment spam and fill it with links. Then they boost the PR of that site by spamming it in blog comments. Once the spam-friendly’s site has in increased Google ranking, all those spammed links in their comments will get a boost in rank as well.

There are those of us who make a huge effort at eliminating comment spam from our websites. We do it because we don’t want that stuff at our websites, and we’ve seen that leaving it there makes more spammers come along and spam even more.

There’s a bigger picture here to consider, too, though. Leaving comment spam at our sites ends up impacting all of us. How? Spammers see that they can sometimes be successful, so they keep at it. They’re now taking advantage of those who don’t remove their spam with spam piggybacking.

I checked out the person’s weblog that Adam mentions. There are outrageous comment spams even in her newest posts. Looking at other people’s weblogs within that Center, every one I looked at has a major spamfest going on, too. I’m baffled about why all these people have done seemingly nothing to delete the spamfest going on. Perhaps they don’t know how to delete comments? Hard to imagine, but many can write and post but don’t know how to manage their weblogs. Their examples are quite a reminder about what will happen quickly if we don’t protect our own sites, isn’t it?!

The people above use Movable Type, and there are plenty of easy ways with Movable Type to prevent comment spam and to quickly eliminate any new spam, including using MTBlacklist and getting email notices whenever someone leaves a comment. You can also turn off comments, which is a sure way to prevent comment spam!

I’ve considered turning off comments at my weblog because at times I get exasperated and fed up with comment spammers. However, so far I continue to decide that I’m not going to let spammers' actions interfere with my weblog. Awhile back before I switched from Blogger to Movable Type I got frequent emails from people complaining that I didn’t provide comments, too. In addition, I also enjoy having the comments feature available as it adds another dimension to weblogging that I feel is quite important.

More

I’ve written previously about comment spam and approaches to preventing it, including links to helpful resources and other people’s ideas:

Frankly, I’m more than a little tired of this nonsense. I’m only writing about it today in the hopes that this information will help spread the word about how to combat comment spam.

07:00 am, pdt 2 August, 2004 Comments, Trackbacks (7) ·

Categories: Internet, Movable Type, Weblogs

Comments

Comments, Trackbacks: 7 so far. Add yours!

  1. I wrote a bit about this on a slow Sunday afternoon:

    Weeds in the Garden/

    02:11 pm, pdt 2 August, 2004Comment by Matt

    comment #1 permalink ·

  2. Here's a link for David - I was being extremely incoherent the other day trying to explain some of the new tricks that the Other Side are getting up to: Comment Spammers Persevere, Including Adding New Tricks via Brainstorms and...

    02 Aug, 2004Trackback from Blogula Rasa

    trackback #2 permalink ·

  3. You wrote:

    I’ve considered turning off comments at my weblog because at times I get exasperated and fed up with comment spammers. However, so far I continue to decide that I’m not going to let spammers' actions interfere with my weblog.

    Unfortunately, spammers' actions necessarily interfere with your weblog. You have no choice in the matter. So really, it’s not that you have decided that their actions will not interfere with your blog, but that you will take the necessary time to maintain features and functionality while still combatting spammers. You already said as much:

    In addition, I also enjoy having the comments feature available as it adds another dimension to weblogging that I feel is quite important.

    The thing that sucks is that spammers force bloggers to make a decision they never had to before. 'Should I clean-up comments to maintain content integrity, leave comment spam as it is to maintain my time investment, or just abandon comments altogether?' So really, bloggers must decide what is more important to them: content integrity, additional time investment, or site functionality.

    That’s a tough decision. All options are viable, depending upon your decision-making criteria.

    On the positive side, all we’d have to worry about without spammers is how IE renders CSS...

    ;)

    10:57 am, pdt 3 August, 2004Comment by NateL

    comment #3 permalink ·

  4. Apparently, Weblog spamming is continuing to worsen with each passing day. Some of the biggest victims appear to be Movable Type (MT) users for some reason. Perhaps they just have common Weblogs that the automated spamming software seeks out and...

  5. One feature I like about bBlog is that in the newest version, it has four settings for whether to allow comments or not: Moderate all posts, Moderate Posts with links, allow all posts, or disable comments. There might be a few details I left out, but I’ve found I get no spam on my blog with that. Of course, I didn’t get much _before_, but still :)

    10:45 pm, pdt 3 August, 2004Comment by Kevin Hjelden

    comment #5 permalink ·

  6. I’ve seen a couple of comments linking to my old beta testing TypePad site, which I can no longer access to clean up comments and is therefore riddled with spam. The worst of it is that, since my name is all over the dormant site, I worry that folk will think I’m in some way complicit with the spammers.

    Anyway, I’m glad you’ve decided to persevere - I’d say commenting was more than 'quite important'; it’s what makes keeping a weblog worthwhile.

    Oh, and I wish I had the patience to write a measured response like this after an attack, but I don’t (Possibly NSFW if you don’t like rude words.)

    03:10 am, pdt 5 August, 2004Comment by Jack Mottram

    comment #6 permalink ·

  7. The new typekey feature of MovableType seems a promising way of limiting the spam, and also the new moderation feature of the comment system keeps the spam from getting into the blogs to begin with.

    I hope they drive up the page rank of my site anyway.

    04:23 pm, pdt 9 August, 2004Comment by John

    comment #7 permalink ·

This discussion has been closed. Thanks to all who participated.

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