Spam inundation may result in lost posts

The amount of bot-spam being posted to this blog has gone up by an order of magnitude in the last week.

I wouldn’t bother my readers about this, except that if one of your posts happens to trigger the spam filter, the odds that I will notice and rescue it have dropped significantly. It’s easier to notice the ham in a dozen putative items of spam, which was the typical length of queue last week, than when the queue is 217 items long as it was just now.

This probably means akismet, the WordPress shared spamtrap that I use, needs some tuning. But I don’t know when or even if that problem will be fixed. Apologies for any inconvenience.

18 thoughts on “Spam inundation may result in lost posts

  1. OT: I just read an article over at lwn.net about Wesnoth being ported to the iPhone. How is that not a GPL violation? I took a quick look at wesnoth.org but didn’t see any discussion about it there.

    ESR says: We’re having a big IRC meeting Sunday to try to settle what to do.

  2. Have you looked into the “Bad Behavior” plugin? Many spam bots are brain dead and do not send the correct headers when trying to post comments. Bad Behavior sees that, as well as many other characteristics and provides an easy means of doing most of the tweaking you would want. Combined with Akismet, you’ll see a significant drop in SPAM. I’ve been using Bad Behavior for over a year and thus far it has blocked only one legitimate comment, and the bug was fixed very quickly.

  3. I think there’s a mechanism in WordPress whereby known and trusted commenters can bypass the spam filters to avoid getting falsely flagged.

    I don’t know if Askimet respects the setting though.

    I used Spam Karma 2 and it was more effective than either Bad Behavior or Askimet. It’s no longer in active development though.

    All that was a few years back though. No longer use WP or any other popular blog platform (I gave up and chose to code my own).

  4. We’re having a big IRC meeting Sunday to try to settle what to do.

    Seems like a big waste of time for what is, in essence, only a technical violation of the GPL. From my reading of the sitatuion, it’s not as if some random software developer went in and “Ooh! Lookie at this game! I think I’ll port it to the IPhone without even consulting the developers!” Instead it was the active Wesnoth development community that ported the game to the device. (Of course, I think it would be really cool to see an Android port. ;))

  5. I’ve been seeing a massive increase in automated spam and vandalism over at Rosetta Code, too. The Internet seems to be approaching its rainy season.

  6. I notice that about half the time my posts get “comment awaiting moderation”. I don’t know if I bounce in and out of moderation hell, trip the pressed-pork filter or the general lameness of my posts. And in spite of Eric “just recently” learning about sending folks to moderation purgatory, it seems to have been happening to me for a long, long time.

    Anyhow, that is just a data point, not a complaint and certainly not an accusation; the thought of esr lying about this is laughable. I figure it’s on-topic in this discussion. ‘Till now, I’d just assumed that about half of my posts were lame enough that Eric has just been hitting a “moderate posts for x months” button. Now, I guess there’s a bot who’se been deeming me unfit for polite company. Not sure which is worse.

  7. > I notice that about half the time my posts get “comment awaiting moderation”.

    I too have seen this behavior sometimes.

  8. > ESR says: We’re having a big IRC meeting Sunday to try to settle what to do.

    Seems like if they added a “Download The Source Code” button to the iPhone app, that might satisfy the GPL. Although they might be unwilling to release their iPhone-specific (touchscreen) code, in which case they’d be in violation.

  9. > Seems like if they added a “Download The Source Code” button to the iPhone app, that might satisfy the GPL. Although they might be unwilling to release their iPhone-specific (touchscreen) code, in which case they’d be in violation.

    AFAIK, it wasn’t a source code thing as much as forced acceptance of the incompatible iPhone TOS.

  10. A good one-off way to get rid of spambots is to break their submission API. Write some Javascript that computes a custom checksum over the other comment fields and maybe the date, include the checksum in the form submission, and validate it server-side. Then the spambots either have to include full-fledged JS interpreters (which few if any do), or a spammer with some coding skill has to be specifically targeting your site.

  11. Morgan,

    Yes, naturally. I never said the idea would scale. But as long as “that” continues to consist of every blog author doing a one-off job, not enough people will bother in order to make it worth the spammers’ while to take that step, which means that those who do bother will be sitting pretty for the forseeable future.

  12. “I too have seen this behavior sometimes.”

    It tends to correlate with how many, how long and what kind of links I have in comments. Long Amazon.com links are treated with much more suspicion by the software as shorter links to online articles.

    Until this situation is fixed using tinyurl or something like that for long Amazon and Blogspot links may be a good idea. Or maybe not, if I was a spam detection engine, my spider-sense would be totally tingling if I see a tinyurl link.

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