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17,000+ Spam Comments Can’t Be Wrong!

Originally posted on December 1, 2012 @ 7:04 PM

Those of you who are regular visitors of this site are probably well aware that we feel we have been under attack by a variety of malfeasants for some time now. There have been attempts to hack the site, mysterious and inexplicable outages on our old host, DNS attacks, email problems, and more (believe it or not). On top of all this, JK has received multiple death threats and harassment of all kinds from multiple directions (phones, email, psychic, etc.).

Comment Spam data graphicIn the graphic, you'll see that just one of our spam filters has stopped over 17,000 spam comments in the month of November alone. Now, in practice, this is actually low, because we are running no less than 5 pieces of software that help stop spam (to one degree or another). In fact, it's now necessary to do this, because experience has shown that no one solution comes close to stopping all the spam. At one point a few weeks ago, when the spam deluge really went into high gear, JK was getting hit with many hundreds of spams per day!

When I total up all the info I have (and some of our defenses do not provide an exact number, because they work by stopping spammers before they actually spam), I think it's probable that this site is getting 30-40,000 attempted spam “attacks” per month. And that may well be a low number.

Now, imagine if you had to sort through hundreds of spam comments every day to find the actual ones. It's not quite like looking for a few needles in a large haystack – but it's damn close. Needless to say, I had to improve our defenses and do so fast, or poor John's head would have exploded! Seriously, though, dealing with such large numbers of spam comments is exhausting and depressing – which may well be the point of it all. Stopping them is necessary, but it also takes time and money to keep on top of it.

Furthermore, lest you think that it's not that serious (though how you could think that, I don't know), such a high level of spam is an attack on several levels. Not only does it eat up our time and energy in dealing with it, but it actually eats up server bandwidth too. In other words, it's out-and-out theft. In addition, all those spam bots hitting the site slows the site down, which decreases our Google rankings (Google ranks, in large measure these days, by site speed) and causes people to click away when they might otherwise stay. Spam is just bad any way you look at it, and that's why I believe we're getting so much of it. This site is simply not big enough to warrant that level of spam bot interest otherwise.

The spam comments situation – like spam in general – is dynamic and fluid. It changes daily. Every time a good defense is established against the current batch of spam, spammers come up with a new way of getting past it. It's a never-ending chess match, and it's not a lot of fun, but it is what it is. We will stay on top of it. We have no choice. But be advised it is a war that goes on daily that most of you will never see – sort of like the greater war(s) John describes on this site.

NOTE: Some of you may have noticed intermittent access problems over the last year, or may be experiencing them now. It's quite probable that one or more of our spam filters thinks you are actually a spammer. I wrote an article on this problem and published it over at UFOEXT, and I suggest you read it if you are having access problems to comments on this site, or even to the site itself.

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