Coming Home to a Deep Pile of…

Comment spam. If you don’t run a blog or online discussion group, you’ve probably never heard of them, but spam comments (fake comments submitted en masse and intended to send traffic to a splog or other money-making site) are a real danger for sites that want to encourage public discussion. I use the Akismet plug-in with my WordPress installation to screen out the spam, but that means that occasionally I’ll end up accidentally deleting a REAL comment. Other sites have required commentors to register or have turned off reader contributions entirely.

I originally installed Akismet back in August, about a month after e.politics launched and after enough spammers had found the site that distinguishing between real and fake comments had become a pain. Right before I left for Utah, the number of spam messages I’d received finally topped 20,000, but while I was away, another 4000 accumulated…or rougly 500 per day. Absolutely nuts, and a real danger to the collaborative nature of the modern Web.

What’s the solution? There’s probably no silver bullet, but a good start would be for free blog providers to crack down on spam blogs and for Google to be aggressive about blocking ads on them. Cut off the free hosting and the ready source of revenue, and we might be able to dry up the river of spam. (Nice image, eh? Mmmmmm, a rapid flow of processed meat product…).

In other news, Sundance was a blast and it was hard to come home (Samuel L. Jackson and Justin Timberlake say “hi,” if I’m correctly interpreting the vague glance each made in my friends’ and my direction), but I have a bunch of new article ideas stored up. Fresh e.politics in three…two…one….


Written by
Colin Delany
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1 comment

    I am not sure exactly what CAPTCHA stands for, but the “T” stands for Turing and the “H” stands for Human. We all know what it is: when you sign up for something and you have to provide a translation of some garbled image. It’s a test of some kind that guarantees you are working with a human and not a machine. That’s the first big step of defeating spam.

    The problem is that for large organizations with a wide reach (political campaigns) these types of systems have to be enormously sophisticated. If you are visually impaired, you might fail a visual CAPTCHA test. Generally you need to provide for that, possibly by providing an aural captcha.