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More on Blog Comment Spam

September 29th, 2003

[Editor’s Note: Posting #300! Small milestone, but then again, I am trying to post daily, subtantially, and have missed only a few days in the past three months.]

Blog Comment Spam seems to be coming into vogue now; the blogs I participate in or run are getting it more and more often. Xpat.org, which I run with Sako, just got hit by an infamous “penis-enlargement” spammer from China, who posts a very long list of sexual-aid device web sites, completely off-topic from whatever post, and then ends with the ludicrously absurd comment, “If you find this entry inappropriate please remove it from your database.” Yeah, like a lot of people would find such a post appropriate.

As I’ve mentioned before, some blog spam is subtle, designed so that most people won’t even recognize it. I got one spam message which actually clipped text from a previous comment and mechanically (though in a very clever way) reworded it into a genuine-sounding, on-topic sentence–but the link provided, which was automatically tagged onto the poster’s name, was a spam site.

I even got one spam that was hand-written (at least partially), but nevertheless was from a marketer (he identified himself as such) who included three links to his business site. When I called him on it, he protested vigorously, saying I should keep the links because his comment was on-topic–but spam is spam.

One poor fellow told the story of getting a spam comment in every one of his posts, which would require going through each one manually and deleting them, more than a hundred times–except that he was an experienced power user, and was able to do it quickly. (One good reason to back up the blog database at regular intervals–easier to re-load an older database and then re-add recent posts.)

One rather persistently obnoxious spammer is some fool named “Mishka,” who has a program that auto-spams comments to a single entry in a blog twice within the span of a few minutes, only posting the short comment “Mishka rules!” Again, the name-link points back to this pinhead’s site.

The interesting thing about most of this spam is that the spammers don’t even usually aim for people to follow the link in the comments directly to their site. Much of the spam is aimed at older entries, usually a few weeks or a few months old, way back in the archives somewhere.

So why post spam where few will see it? Because the idea is not to get people to come from the blog, the idea is to establish links from blogs to the spam site. If a site has a large number of links coming from other sites, it will get listed higher in Google, Yahoo, and other search engines. Hopefully, the search engines will find some way of tweaking this, such as not counting blog comment links in their rankings, so that such spam will be of little or no benefit to the spammers.

What ticks me off here is the principle: complete strangers are hijacking resources I have paid for to use as a tool to add value to their own resources. Like someone coming by your house and slapping an ad for their shop on your front window, or stealing your name and falsifying an endorsement for their goods. If someone wants to advertise, fine–but they can do it on their own dime, not on mine.

So I would strongly encourage everyone running a blog site to carefully monitor every comment that comes in, checking for bogus URLs. If any link leads to any kind of business site at all, then immediately delete it. The links provided for in comments are supposed to be for personal, not business, sites.

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  1. September 29th, 2003 at 22:11 | #1

    Yep, I’ve had 1 spam from that guy in China and that Mishka rules one which you just pointed out on my blog (thanks!). I am going to implement some features such as ban words to prevent this sort of crap. I also have email comments turned on so I can be notified of this sort of activity right away.

  2. Luis
    September 29th, 2003 at 22:17 | #2

    Yep, that’s the thing to do. Is it a very difficult process to ban certain words in MT?

    Nice site, by the way!

  3. October 2nd, 2003 at 04:07 | #3

    I have been sending e-mail to the owner of mishka.com. Apparently he is just as much a victim as us and is working with Hurricane’s abuse people to track it down. It seems that he is on the up and up as I just got a blog comment with exactly the same form except Mischka just became boris. Everything else held, mishka@aol.com became boris@aol.com and http://www.mishka.com became http://www.boris.com. It also is commenting the same entry. So, I will be shutting down comments on that one. It linked back to a pacbell DSL line, and I copied pacbell’s abuse folks with the I.P. I hope they catch the b*stard. I

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