Thursday, 23 May 2013

Spam spam spam

If you've ever left, or considered leaving, a comment on this site then you'll know that I moderate all comments. It's not because I don't trust my readers; rather, it's the only way to stem a deluge of spam. Much of it is just annoying, but some is full of obscenities or hate-speech, which is why I can't risk it sitting there while I'm offline - and I do have to sleep!

Many spammers do try to hide their dodgy links within genuine-seeming comments. Unfortunately, as the selection below demonstrates, these are rarely convincing.
'Paragraph writing is also a fun, if you be familiar with then you can write otherwise it is complicated to write.' Although grammar, spelling and punctuation are apparently not required.

'Is it only me or do some of the comments come across like they are written by brain dead visitors?' Only you, dear spammer, only you.

'Hello my family member!' Er...

'For most up-to-date news you have to pay a visit world-wide-web and on web I found this web page as a best site for most up-to-date updates' - and where better for up-to-date-updateness than a history blog?

'My site goes over a lot of the same topics as yours.' No, I can assure you that I have never blogged on American auto insurance. Not even once.

'great post, very informative. I'm wondering why the opposite experts of this sector do not understand this'. Ah yes, the so-controversial story of the Wells Conduit with its 'opposite experts'.

'This is a great tip especially to those fresh to the blogosphere.' No, it's a ghost sign.


Anonymous said...

Aha, thanks, I was almost about to write something similar on my blog! I don't get too much, really, but in recent weeks they've been spamming one particular post from a couple of years ago. Weird. Like you, I moderate, and mark as Spam. But still they come.

Thanks for Sharing my Office of Works thing on Facebook!

Hels said...

You realise that since the words are identical eg "brain dead", those comments are not sent by feverish bloggers in another country, huddled next to their computers. They must be computer programmes, sent out by the millions each day.

Until I started to moderate my blog, about 30 spam comments were arriving on a slow day and perhaps 70 spam comments on a brisk day.

HughB said...

Monty Python are at the root of it all - you need to find that cafe in Bromley and get rid of those VIKINGS!!!

CarolineLD said...

LondonHistorians, I do find that they target particular, often elderly posts - very odd.

Hels, they are indeed largely automated. Some clearly just string together random snippets of text, but these were all meant to pass for real comments. That's partly what amuses me about the inept wording: if you were going to write something once and send it out a million times, wouldn't you be more careful? It would hugely increase the chance of success.

And Hugh, thank you for coming up with the solution!

Hels said...

"It would hugely increase the chance of success". Well yes, if only we knew what success was. If they aren't being academic or commercial or social, what are the spam comments for?

CarolineLD said...

Oh, commercial: they generally contain a link to some highly dubious site selling fake designer goods, or medication, or similar. I think some also hope to improve their site's ranking by the apparent link back, but that doesn't actually work for links in Blogger comments...

Anonymous said...

As you note, spammers often target older posts. I think this is for two reasons: 1. Posts for spamming are found by chance and as there are fewer references to recent posts than to older posts, the latter are more likely to be found. 2. Spammers hope that spam comments on old posts are less likely to be noticed by the blogger. (Untrue if your blog platform notifies you of comments by email!)

You can therefore reduce your spam count considerably by closing comments on posts over a certain age, say 90 days.

Many spam posts are written in general terms and don't reference any details of the article to which they attach themselves. The same comment appears many times in the blogosphere so they are quickly marked as spam and filtered out by blog platforms like Wordpress that have spam filters.

More recently, I have been seeing more "individually crafted" spam comments: these may seem like genuine comments because they refer to the post's content but are usually short and a bit vague and the giveaway is the author's URL which is that of a commercial site. I systematically delete comments with such URLs.

I don't moderate (except, possibly, if I am going away for a while and will not be able to access my blog). It's so easy to delete bad comments as they appear. (With Wordpress you can do it from the notifying email.) These days, with smart phones and similar devices, it's so easy to access your blog on the hoof and kill the spam that moderating comments would make me more work than it would save. I think moderation has a chilling effect on commenting.