It is no secret that Weblog Tools Collection is a magnet for comment spam. I am not sure if this is something to brag about but Akismet has caught over 3,588,568 spam comments as of writing this article. We spend a considerable amount of time moderating comments on this blog and lately the time spent has increased many fold. Let me explain.
Since automattic spamming of blogs has mostly been reduced to a trickle due to the likes of Akismet, spammers are now individually targeting blog posts with highly relevant, and in many cases highly convincing comments. I moderated and subsequently spammed a comment today that was over a hundred words long, on the pros and cons of one of the themes on our daily theme posts. I thought the comment was a very well written review of theme until I looked closely. The URI of the poster was a refinancing Made For AdSense page. One click of my itchy index finger and it was gone. Take that sucka!
This sort of relevant comment spam is not new but the time and effort spent on writing them seems to have increased quite a bit, where legit comments are harder to distinguish from spam. They now come with more Kung Fu and we need to spend more time and effort in identifying them. We use a plugin written by Alex King on this blog that can delink the comment authors. However there is lurking danger in just delinking a comment author since if the author was really a spammer, authorizing a comment is akin to authorizing them to post comments on your blog without moderation (they still have to go through Akismet even if the author was previously authorized). So if the comment looks really legit but has a lurking spam link in the URI, and Akismet thinks it is ham then you as the blogger never see it because it never gets put into the moderation queue and the spammer is successful.
In addition to much better comments from spammers, trackback spam have gotten clever as well. Spammy trackbacks from Russian and Chinese sites have increased considerably. They are much harder to identify as spam because of the language barrier and we have resorted to deleting them if they look anywhere close to being suspicious or add nothing to the conversation. We also delete any and all trackbacks from scraper sites. As a matter of fact, we use the blacklist feature to remove them from contention completely but scapers are another story for another day.
So we are spending more time moderating comments and often feel guilty that we might be spamming or deleting legitimate comments from folks whose site/blog look spammy to us (there was a poker blog that looked spammy but was written by a legitimate poker fan). Sadly, one persons’ spam might look to another person like ham and vice versa. It is getting harder to determine the spamminess of a comment because the distinguishing features that separate ham from spam continue to get more and more blurry. Please be (more) careful when approving a comment because you might be letting a spammer in.
“Named must your fear be before banish it you can.”