Beating the scum of the earth comment spammers

Believe it or not comment spam has recently become a problem on my tiny little tech blog sitting in the outskirts of the internet. Over the last month or two (as my life has been unbelievably busy) I’ve watched the comment spammers/scripts slowly figure out how my webforms work and yesterday when I woke up there were about 10 spam comments sitting in my inbox that actually made it onto my webpage that I had to manually delete.

So this week I spent my Friday night at home modifying my blog script to outsmart the link spammers. My first go at this has just been to require manually approval for each post. Since I’m only going to need to manually approve the ones I want to appear on my site and since I don’t really get that many geniune comments, I think this is an ok first step.

The thing I don’t like about this solution is that the 10 to 24 hour delay could potentially stiffle interesting conversation (which does sometimes emerge on my longer running personal blog) so my next idea is to only require unknown people to have their comments approved. I know that the regular people (person *g*) who comment on my blog aren’t link spammers so their comments should appear right away.

I’ve got two ideas about doing this: I could either have people register with a username and password or have a list of IP/email address combinations that don’t require approval. The advantage of the first option is I can store more information about the people that’ll make the site easier to use like having their personal details automatically loaded into the form when they want to post a comment. The advantage of the second system is it’s simple and it requires no extra work by the people who visit the site: I just click a link and then their comments are approved automatically.

I thought about using the no-follow tag in my pages with comments to help make link spamming ineffective in the long run, but the sad thing about that is it punishes the people who actually might contribute to my blog as well as the scum of the earth link spammers. I want the people who take the time to leave a comment on my blog to get any small benefit it might give to their google ranking. It’s the least I can do to say thanks. I’d also like to be able to do the same for any interesting link that might be contributed in a comment post (like the post I did a while back on bug tracking systems). This is the way that the site popularity ranking is meant to work.

It really bugs me that I need to spend my Friday nights doing things like this so a small number of people can make a money doing something that actually makes the web a worse place to be for everyone else. It’s a great example of a small few making a system a lot harder to use for the majority. These same people who argue that system loop holes are there to be exploited are the ones who yell loudest when the system stops working or becomes really difficult to use. It’s the people who think stealing money from companies doesn’t hurt people and that everyone should do anything they can to exploit loop holes in the tax system. I guess all I can do is try to believe in karma and remember that the people who make it easy to be proud of humanity.

Oh well, got that rant out of my system and the comment spam out of my blog. Now I can get back to my weekend.

Posted on 14 May 05 by Helen Emerson (last updated on 04 Sep 11).
Filed under Programming