One of the major topics to du Jour is spam comments. There
are those who are wildly
optimistic and others who are
pessimistic... (I tend to the optimistic side myself -
the trick is to keep the cost/benefit ratio in your favor)
This turns out to be rather timely, given that I was just hit by
143 spams from a single individual over a thirteen hour
period. By all indications this was not automated.
The removal, however, was. All it took to wipe all these
comments out was a single command (which I had to issue twice, once
before I flew out to
and one after I landed to clear out the ones created while I was in
flight). This is not much trouble for me, but it does tend to
people who are subscribed to my comments feed.
So... I've implemented a throttle. The
is straightforward, but the policy is difficult to put into
words. Suffice it to say that no one can put in three
consecutive comments within the period of a day or put in three
comments total within a five minute period.
RE: Comment Throttle
What do you consider consecutive comments?
PS: Now that I know I'll be at XML 2003 we should have a planned hanging out session.
Wouldn't this headache be solved by not putting hyperlinks in comments (eg. you see the commenter's name and their URL next to it rather than being linked)? Would there be a point to spam with plaintext URLs?
Confused: that also wouldn't solve the problem. Spammers have it in their heads now that weblog comments are a vector to exploit. They don't look at individual results and tweak their software to stop bothering individuals. They write generic software that works with millions of sites and goes after them en masse. So you would end up with just as much spam, it would just be displayed with unlinked URLs.
Spammers don't read blogs; they just write to them.
The posts varied from one to three minutes apart - some were simplistic responses of an Eliza quality, but an other specifically cited Dare by name (Dare is not a common name, in fact, it is a common English verb). The response to my Atkins post was as follows:
The atkins diet certainly works. The 2 women I know that each read the book. both felt better and lost weight - not that that is a scientific study...
The user agent was IE.
Not conclusive, but it certainly does not appear to me to have been automated.
A trivial test: did the "human" download your CSS stylesheet? Robots generally don't bother. (I know it can be cached; you may need to look back in your logs.)
What was the REFERER on the atkins diet post? As (some of?) these "crawler" spambots seem to come in via links from other blogs, or via google searches on some keyword, I would not be surprised if the comment was vaguely on-topic.
All the 'bots I have seen claim to be IE, so that means nothing.
The fact that the posts were spaced from 1 to 3 minutes apart makes it more likely that it was a spambot than a human.
A human would be cutting and pasting into your comment-entry form, and would be trying to get through the process as quickly as possible. A 'bot would be hitting hundreds of different weblogs simultaneously, and would prefer to space-out its HTTP requests, so as not to set off any alarm bells. (Look at how the better search-engine crawlers behave.)
I can't prove you were hit by a 'bot. But, from everything you've said, it's far more likely than not.
I don't keep my logs that far back, but from memory, the initial referrer was a google query, and the favicon.ico and blog.css were downloaded. Subsequent posts included previews, some pages were visited without leaving a comment, etc.
While I no longer have the logs, I do have the actual spams.
Very interesting ideas forthcoming in the Blog anti-spam debate
I have a couple of vested interests in erdicating SPAM from my blog and from the rest of the Blogosphere. There are some interesting discussions (and disagreements) brewing in the various listservs and dev-blogs that I regularly visit or subscribe ...
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