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Shelley Powers: In the meantime, here’s a surefire method of preventing comment spam

WOW.  Every once in a while somebody steps up and concisely states something that, in retrospect, should have been so blindingly obvious that you have to hit yourself in the head and say "why didn't I see that before".

This is one of those times.

Spammers aren't going to spend their precious time checking to see how you have implemented nofollow.  Despite having implemented nofollow on the Atom wiki, spam attempts continue to increase there.

But spammers will seek out those with precious pagerank and focus their efforts there.  Most spam attempts are preceded by google queries for words like add your comment and edit this page.


So, the surefire way to eliminate comment spam is to drop out.  Not just from Google, but also from Technorati tags, and no advertising by pinging or equivalent either.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

So, the question is: what's worth fighting for.  For Shelley, it is comments.  For Gordon, it is links.  At the moment, I tend to lean towards Gordon's point of view.  To be fair, Shelley provides similar support on her blog, and is experimenting with new ideas.

Meanwhile, if you are using IE 5.5 on Windows 98 and you don't provide a referer, don't bother trying to post to the Atom wiki.  You are not worth fighting for.

Hmmm... but if Google does not find your page how will people get to your blog?

Posted by Anton Tagunov at

The mere existence of that question boggles my mind.

Posted by Mark at

Pinging and friends is still surprisingly cost-free. I accidentally pinged from a test setup (I didn't know WordPress comes loaded with the hammer cocked), and that single entry has been getting just one spam comment once a week ever since. Silly spammers, not using such a wonderful tool we've built for them.

Posted by Phil Ringnalda at

Meanwhile, if you are using IE 5.5 on Windows 98 and you don't provide a referer, don't bother trying to post to the Atom wiki.  You are not worth fighting for.

Hmmm. That doesn't explain why my home machine is blocked from your blog but surprisingly not your RSS feed.

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Why use the obvious "words like /add your comment/ and /edit this page/"? Think of something more original for the link, use unusual names for form fields... seems to me that'd make it much harder for spammers.

Posted by Jason at


You send Mark a big fat check, like with lots of zeros. He comes back from "retirement" and in his debut post he links to you. Boom tons of people find your blog.


Those darn spammers using those darn tools "we've" built for them. Who knew they'd be abused....

Posted by Darryl at

I wouldn't call it retirement.  I've been active; you're just not looking in the right places.  The blogosphere is the wall in Plato's cave.  Unchain yourself and look around.

Posted by Mark at

Maybe this is a silly idea. But how about one time URLs for the comment link? Is comments spam automated or are there individuals clicking on the end of it?

Posted by Julian Bond at

Anton - that actually was the point.  There is more to life than popularity.

Dare - if you send me some details (like time of day, what page you were trying to access), I will look into it.  That shouldn't be happening.  And the block on that particular version of IE with no referers is only on POSTs to the wiki.

Jason - I get much more spam on my wiki than on my blog.  The word that people use?  Wiki.  It looks like Atom dropped off of the front page of that particular query, but I can tell you that spammers will go through dozens of pages.  Some try to be clever and post something remotely on topic and reference a "blog" that appears outwardly normal, but you can trace back to the query that they issued and see comments within minutes on the weblogs that appear just before or after yours on the query.

Julian - some spam is automated, much of it seems to come from eastern block countries and even the far east.  Until recently, all of the spam on the wiki was manual.  Now somebody seems to have created a new toy, one that exploits proxies and drones.  That's the one that I am targetting with the match on user-agent and referer.

Could they get around that?  Definitely.  But if they were smart enough to read this post, they would be smart enough to realize that with nofollow there is no value in what they are doing.  But as we all know Spammers don't read blogs; they just write to them.

Posted by Sam Ruby at


Sorry. When I said "retirement" I was simply referring to your blog. My internet bloodhounds have detected your tracks in cyberspace.

As Sam said, most is automated. We in wordpress land are getting hammered nicely because we're the new MT I guess. As for any novel spam prevention technique. Once it gets distributed widely enough a new tool will be constructed to take advantage. If it's low barrier for participation is will be low barrier for abuse.

Rumour is spammers don't just read blogs they apparently have them too

Posted by Darryl at

Spammers love to leach off the popularity of others.

Posted by Dougal Campbell at


In the case of auto theft, crime never goes down, it just disproportionately affects those without Clubs, until everyone has a Club, theft still hasn't gone down, everybody's out $20, and we’re all back where we started. In the case of email obfuscation, harvesters never go away, they just disproportionately affect those who don’t obfuscate, until enough people obfuscate that the harvesters get smarter, everybody's wasted a lot of time, everybody's email is still getting harvested, and we're all back where we started. In the case of comment spam...

Posted by Mark at

Dougal - congratulations, you have just entered the first comment for which I have manually added a nofollow attribute to the link in the comment body.  Thanks!  ;-)

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Dougal: a wise man once said, "NEVER (under any circumstances) publish a weblog to a domain that you don't control."

Posted by Mark at

Sorry, Sam, I probably shouldn't have actually hyperlinked that. Or I should have thought to try adding the nofollow myself (not sure if your system would have filtered it, though?) ;)

But I just wanted to point out that spammers are taking advantage of search engines and popular search terms in other ways, as well.

Posted by Dougal Campbell at

If only there were a way to have a weblog that let me set up ACLs for reading and commenting on a very granular level!

Posted by Anil at

Even better would be if the weblog could create this ACL from an existing list of people I trust such as my IM buddy list. :)

Posted by Dare Obasanjo at

Dougal: don't worry about it, and no, there is currently no way for you to control which links are nofollow.

Anil, I fully expect that there would be a market for walled gardens.  I am not part of that demographic.  I participate in enough such cloistered environments in my life - this space is where I get away from all that, and in the process get exposed to fresh ideas and insights.

Dare: If we look at the comment thread so far, exactly one is on my current IM buddylist.

Posted by Sam Ruby at

Anne van Kesteren : Just Another Word - Disallowing Google to stay spam free. Hmm....

Excerpt from HotLinks - Level 1 at

Dare, that would be a perfect application of OPML.

Posted by Mark at

Actually, to try to redeem my snarkiness with something useful, I think the ideal is not a walled garden but an ACL with an entry for "everyone". I use the close friends I first met as random blog-wanderers as the justification for keeping my site as open as possible, too.

I'm wondering, though, how much search engine discoverability is a factor in serendipity. I'd suggest it's at least one of the raw elements required for manufacturing, at least as we've known it thus far. And I haven't seen anything lately that would take its place, but perhaps that's been for lack of incentives to create it.

Posted by Anil at

A (fake) captcha is sufficient to prevent automated spam. It blocked off 100% of the spam for me, and I didn't have to suffer installing all the graphics libraries on a webserver. My personal beef with spam is that like graffiti, it inconveniences the reader. Even worse, it reflects badly on the blogger because he is not keeping his weblog tidy.

Posted by Chui Tey at

Comment on My year in 12 copy-and-paste comments by: Mark

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Excerpt from phil ringnalda Comments at

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