As I look back on ten years of blogging with WordPress on this 10th Anniversary year, I realized that comment spam has been a popular subject on this site.
My site is not very interactive. I tend to publish articles that leave little room for discussion. Yet, like most of us today, this site has had more than its fair share of comment spam. Thank goodness that WordPress.com and the WordPress Community, along with dozens of other forum and web publishing platforms, have Akismet to protect them. Akismet is one of many projects created by Matt Mullenweg that make the world a better place and I’m so grateful.
I’ve watched comment evolve from email spam to being a nuisance on blogs to a billion dollar industry representing more than porn, casinos, and mortgage companies. The growth – nay, explosion – of comment spam in the last ten years has been stunning.
A recent story on The World radio show described how Chinese are learning English to improve the odds of catching a big fish in phishing scams:
According to the cybersecurity company, Mandiant, hired to investigate how the New York Times was hacked, one important tool hackers are now employing is “good English.” Moser says it’s a sign of the times.
“We know there are at least 300 million people in China learning English right now. That’s the population of the US. So there’s got to be lots of people good at learning slangy English,” says Moser.
It’s true, these scams have gotten a lot more sophisticated says Andrew Howard. Howard studies the effectiveness of phishing at the Georgia Tech Research Institute by writing and sending what he calls “ethical phishing emails” and measuring how many people click on the dubious link.
“In my experience even a really poorly crafted email, we see click rates in the 20-25 percent rate.”
Improve language skills and that click rate will rocket up. It’s up to us to be smarter than email and comment spammers, not an easy task.
In “The Secret Recipe of Comment Spam Comments,” I shared a broken comment template form that came through my comment spam. It featured the secret sauce recipe spammers use in bots and templates for human spammers to slam our sites. It was a study in well-formed comments, comments designed to fool you into thinking they are legitimate.
I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It’s pretty worthy enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be a lot more useful than ever before.
Aside from some grammatical issues, what a lovely comment. Makes me feel sunshine inside, my first lesson learned from comment spam.
The Best Comment Spammers Complement You
Before Akismet came out to save our time and blogging lives with its solid comment spam protection, in 2005 I wrote “What is Comment Spam?” to help everyone learn more about how it worked and how to recognize and differentiate it from legit comments. I wrote:
The sneaky comment spammers are the ones you really have to look for. They require more work to determine if they are legitimate. These are the nice comment spammers. They say things like:
“I really like your site, keep up the good work.”
“This is a beautiful site.”
“It looks like you worked hard to create this site. Good work.”
“I like what you have to say. I’m going to tell my friends.”
“This is really good information. I’m going to mark it as a favorite.”
When these first started showing up, I preened. I even pointed them out to my husband with pride. Then I learned that these were NOT legitimate but creepy comment spam robots that were lying and creating links to their sites. Some investigation found that some of these links were indeed hooking up with pharmacy and gambling sites. DAMN! These are the sneaky comment spammers! More and more comment spam prevention tools help to eliminate these, but if you get a lot of “nice comments” within a day or two across many posts – you’ve been hit by a sneaky comment spammer.
I learned from comment spammers that those who thrive on evil are smart and polite. They taught me not to trust commenters.
Comment Spam is a Waste of Our Time
Comment spam is a waste of time. It clogs up the web, representing the majority of content flowing around the Internet tubes, but mostly it just wastes time. Everyone’s time.
In 2005, a report came out saying Americans spent 40% of their time online deleting spam. Most of that was from email, so increase that for bloggers deleting it from email and blogs. That’s a huge amount of time going down the drain. While most email services have vastly improved their email spam filters, and sites using Akismet save time with the crowd-sourced comment spam fighter, it’s still a lot of time wasting with no return other than a feel-good that you are helping others avoid spam by marking spam as spam not deleting it.
In “A Day in the Life of a Paranoid Website Administrator,” I described the hard work it took to monitor and clean out comment spam, giving you some insights into how much these things waste our time and mess with our heads.
Then one day I got hit by about 25 viagra/casino spams. While these were caught by WordPress comment spam filters, they showed up in pink using ColdForged’s Paged Comment Editing Plugin. The monsters were in my spam catching database, eating up valuable space on my server. Well, not really but I was angry anyway. Remember, I’m paranoid about comment spam. After several months with only the occasional irritant, I was pissed, so I added the Bad Behavior Comment Spam Plugin.
Again, things trickled down to a nothing and I got paranoid again. Comments were being bounced by Bad Behavior before they even got in the door. It was “too quiet.” I was paranoid. So I added Bad Behavior Stats so I could keep track of what it was doing. Bad Behavior was catching a LOT. On average, it nails 500 known comment spam spiders, robots, etc., every week.
But you see what happened? WordPress stopped the majority of the comment spam out of the package. I got paranoid so I added WordPress Plugins to help me deal with MY paranoia not the comment spam!
I learned to trust the tools that keep my site safer and block most comment spam, and not to complain about the few that do get through. If twenty get through on a single day, I relax because I know that 2,000 might have been caught and prevented from appearing in my comment queue.
I Learned More About Sex from Comment Spammers Than Books and Friends
I’ve learned much about sex over the years of reading spam comments. There is a lot of filth – the kind you recognize when you see it – jamming up the Internet tubes and our comment spam queues.
I learned about golden showers from comment spam. That’s one of the kinder kinks found in comment spam. I didn’t know what it was and said the term out loud without thinking. My husband heard me. I told him I didn’t know what it was, so he explained it to me. I don’t know what shocked me more – that someone actually enjoys that fetish or that my husband, an ultra conservative and proper Southern boy, would know what about it. If you don’t know, ask a friend or hit Google. I won’t help you on this one.
I learned that the world is a twisted place. No matter how many laws and Victorian attitudes we may put on sexuality, sexual preferences, and fetishes, they’ve been around for a long time and will continue forward forever. Get more accepting and broad-minded, folks.
I also learned my husband knows more about many things than he lets on. I’m still not sure if that’s a good lesson or not.
A Good Site is a Comment Spam Free Site
When I find comment spam on a site, it makes me sick. It tells me that this blogger has abandoned their site or doesn’t care any more. It means the spammers have won and we are down another solider in the war against the spammers.
In “Do You Care Enough To Keep Your Blog Comment Spam Free?,” I wrote about the snap judgments people make when they encounter a spam-filled site.
With these snap judgments on a comment spam filled blog post, do you think this is the type of resource that I would like to read or recommend? What do you think and assume about someone with a comment spam packed blog?
More importantly, in our constant battle to put an end to comment spam through creative and imaginative means, the evil spammers win with that blog. That blog is the reason they keep littering the web with their fecal matter. Because there are enough lazy, careless, lackadaisical blog owners who don’t care or give up under the onslaught instead of thinking more about their readers and the battle to fight comment spam than doing something about it.
To those bloggers, a kick in the head.
Keep proving you care about your readers and get rid of comment spam when it gets through your comment spam filters. Think about cleaning out comment spam like cleaning your blog house. You want to make a good impression when visitors come to call, don’t you?
..You are only torturing your readers and commenters, not stopping comment spam from getting through. Get serious comment spam protection and open your comments to the world.
Put your readers first and kill all comment spam.
Comment Spammers Want to Wear Us Down
Blogs with comment spam taught me that spammers thrive on persistence. Like terrorists now serving as a legitimate political body within a government once terrorized by them, spammers win by wearing us down and overwhelming us so we give up.
Don’t give up.
In “Are Blog Comments Getting You Down?” I wrote that blogging is hard work enough without including comment spam in the mix.
Don’t let the struggles of nasty people make your blogging experience miserable. Don’t take revenge, or bite back with nasty comments. Do nothing to inflame them. Rise above them and remove their negative influence. Keep your focus on the higher ground: your content and blogging goal.
Comment spam taught me to have tougher skin and resist those wish a wish to condemn me and what I do. I learned to stand taller, fight back harder, and be more confident about who I am and what I do.
I’m a blogger, and I fight back. Take that, spammers.
More Comments on Comment Spam
Here are just a few of the many articles I’ve written on comment spam as I studied it and learn from it over the years.
- Website Hammered by Hotlinking, Spammers, and Free Loaders?
- Mystery Solved: Introducing Akismet Comment Spam Protection
- Americans Spend 40% of Their Time Online Deleting Spam
- Comment Spammers Getting Smarter – But Not Smart Enough
- Spam: Stupid Pointless Annoying Messages in Emails, Comments, and Everywhere
- The Attack of the Spam-Bots from Hell
- New Comment Spammer on the Loose – Pay Attention
- Comment Spammers Now Using Hebrew to Fool You
- Mean Spirited Comments and Blogging
- Comment Spam: Vengeance is Theirs and Mine
- Check Your WordPress.com Comments for Comment Spam
- Illegal Internet Gambling and Gambling Comment Spam
- Calling All Stupid Comment Spammers
- Content Specific Comment Spam on the Loose
- One Year Anniversary Review: Comments on Comment Spam
- Comment Spammers Resorting to Jokes
- Akismet Kills 50,000 Comment Spams
- Do You Care Enough To Keep Your Blog Comment Spam Free?
- I’m Winning the Battle Against Comment Spam
- Would You Do Business With a Comment Spammer?
- Battling Comment Spam: Human Versus Human
- Stupid Spammers: To Remove Your Site From Our Comment Spamming Database Instructions
- Help Stop Trackback Comment Spam Via Google
- Winning the Battle Over Comment Spam: Akismet and Search Engines?
- Bad-Behavior Continues to Give the Finger to Comment Spammers
- Changing Blogging Programs Won’t Stop Comment Spam
- Akismet: All Our Comment Spam Fighting Eggs in One Basket
- Can We Work Together To Stop Comment Spam?
- Comment Spammers Never Stop, Even When Your Blog is Down
- Fighting Registration Spam in WordPress
- Attack of the Mean Commenter: Blocking Commenters and Comments on Your WordPress Blog
- Checking WordPress for Comment Spam That Slips By You
- Fighting Comment Spam: WordPress Comments Mass Edit Mode
- Banning a WordPress Spammer With .htaccess
- When Akismet Goes Bad: What to do when Akismet starts spamming your own comments
- Blog Struggles: When Are Too Many Comments Too Many Comments?
- Spinning Spammers Steal Our Blog Content
- What Are Those Unknown Characters in My Blog Comments?
- Comment Spam Alert: I Read a Similar Article
- Do Not Delete Comment Spam. Mark Spam as Spam.
- WordPress Anniversary: WordPress and Evil
- The Secret Recipe of Comment Spam Comments
Clearly, comment spam has occupied too much of my time. :D