Robert Downey, Jr. surprised by a photographerSPAM is now just a daily part of my life. I get so much of it, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have piles of SPAM to wade through every day. Yes I have SPAM filters setup, yadda yadda, yadda, but you still have to sift through them for false positives. Anyway, one of the things that I’ve always been mindful of is that when a new site I’m involved in launches, I know it’s gaining in popularity when the level of SPAM increases. My assumption is that the spammers find me the same as regular users, so I’m now appearing on the radar. SPAM is just a part of the equation, a negative one to be sure, but I have to admit a little thrill when I see SPAM increasing on a new web site. 🙂

Recently, my weblog has been getting increasing numbers of SPAM and as is normally the case, I was a little bit happy to see it. However there’s a new type of SPAM that I’m having to deal with that I don’t care for at all. It’s called comment spam. If you run a MoveableType weblog then you’ve probably heard about this new type of SPAM, but for those of you that don’t allow me to explain.

MoveableType employs an open comment system. That means that anyone can post a comment if the comment feature is enabled. Most weblogs employ comments because it’s good to get feedback about what you’re written. Spammers have recognized that there is a loophole in open comment systems and as a result MT weblogs have become a target for comment spam and comment flooding. Spammers are now using automated scripts to send many comments at time to a weblog entry and are doing this to weblogs everywhere. The only real way around this loophole is comment registration and that won’t appear until MT releases it’s 3.0 version. In the mean time I’ve been deleting the comments by hand. It’s not that bad of a process when it was one or two a week, but I’m now finding that I’m getting 3 or 4 a day and it’s starting to become a PITA.

So just what do these Comment Spam posts look like? Well, surprisingly they almost all look the same. The subject says something like the following:

hi from Larry Heta amazing page see a later tomorrow or never

|| Posted by Alicia silverstone nude picture galleries (1 total) on March 13, 2004 07:08 AM

Pretty innocuous huh? Here’s where the catch comes in. The spammer lists his name as “Alicia silverstone nude picture galleries” and his URL points to some nasty web site. As a result, when the comment is posted, you see a link called “Alicia silverstone nude picture galleries” just below the comment. I pride myself on keeping my weblog pretty clean, so this kind of junk really makes me angry.

As I was deleting the example listed above, yes that was from an actual Comment Spam, I got to thinking, “What’s the point of these stupid Comment Spam posts anyway?” I suppose one purpose of it is to try and lure my readers to click the link and check out the site, but there’s actually more to it. Many spammers are posting comments so that their PageRank will appear higher in Google. If you’re interested in learning more about the ins and outs of this topic, Wired News did a great article on the subject called Spammers Clog Up the Blogs, that is worth a read.

I guess I should call myself lucky because I’m not generating near the level of Comment Spam that some weblogs are generating. Of course that is probably because my humble weblog isn’t near as popular as these other sites. 😛 Ego aside, I’ll still count myself lucky though because many of these sites are having to implement Blacklist Plugins and other tools to try and combat the hundreds of SPAM attacks they’re getting a day. MT Blacklist seems to be the preferred solution and I hope I never have to install it. 🙂

In the meantime, I’ll go on deleting the occasional Comment Spam that I receive. I’ll take it as flattery that with more people reading my weblog, more spammers will come as part of the package as well. Ahhh, the high cost of fame. 😉