Spam + Blogs = Trouble

Wired had an article out last month called Spam + Blogs = Trouble where I share some of my perspectives on the whole spam thing. It’s a good article, but I strongly disagree with Anil’s comments at the end around a global identifier or “Internet Social Security number.” Akismet has shown we don’t need to boil the ocean or make commenters jump through hoops to get effective spam protection on blogs (and blog hosting services).

9 thoughts on “Spam + Blogs = Trouble

  1. I wouldn’t read too much into any one line, you know that press stories by their nature can only reflect a tiny bit of the conversation you have with the writer. All I meant is that authentication and accountability are always going to have a role in preventing spam, as will centralized filters, trust networks, and economic (dis)incentives.

    For example, a lot of applications of blog technology can happen in situations where sending submissions through a third-party service (even a trusted one, etc.) isn’t an option, and there needs to be an answer for those situations, too. Even if we all succeed in blocking 100% of spam — that doesn’t address the larger need for actually encouraging positive valuable contributions, or making sure we’re not just passing the cost of spam on to other parts of the ecosystem.

  2. Every time I explain a new technology to people I know, I end up spending as much time explaining the accompanying pirate technology that seems to come along with it. Downloaded programs -> viruses, Email -> attachment scripts, blogging -> comment spam.

    Although my relatively new site gets next to nothing for traffic, I’ve logged over 1300 spam comments since installing Akismet only a month ago. It’s ridiculous. Comment spam is much more of a problem than email spam, IMHO.

    I almost fell over when I got my first real comment from a user…

    BTW, I love the concept of using something SPF-like (even though I was dragged into implementing it by various ISP requirements). šŸ™‚

  3. I agree with you matt, but there’s one *huge* issue I have with Akismet. It still counts the comments. I wish Akismet or something in WordPress wouldn’t count a comment until it’s been approved. I get thousands of comments a month, but most are spam and it counts them up to a number I wish weren’t there. I would rather have them as a total of all the comments in an orderly list, not how Akismet deals with them right now.

  4. With blogs now mainstream it was inevitable to see the talk by the media to shift from spam in email to spam in comments. Services such as those provided by Akismet do more to combat spam than any legislation or policies would. Outside of WordPress users though, I think a lot of CMS/Blog users haven’t heard that such services are available. I probably enjoy using Akismet for Drupal much more than WordPress just because so few Drupal sites do use it. I of course try to do my part in promoting Akismet when I can on my own sites.

  5. I agree with Dash that paid blog hosting likely reduces the splogging from those services. I don’t know much about the systems that sploggers use but my assumption is that they are using free domain names (the .info example was given) and free blog hosting. If free hosting services prevented advertising, then the supply of money would be eliminated.

    As much as I like Akismet and the fact that it has trapped most of the 3,500 blog spam sent my way, it only stops the spam from appearing on my blog, it doesn’t stop blog spam at the source. Strangely, three recent spam that got through didn’t have valid urls,, so there is no way that anyone could have linked to the splogger’s site thereby preventing any income generation from that link. Weird!

  6. @ Jules: I’ve noticed this as well. I’m assuming that this is some kind of test of the comment feature on the site, since you’re right that (and, the other I’ve gotten) won’t be generating any income for these people. However, if they can determine which sites didn’t block these comments, they can focus a bit more.

    Of course, this isn’t postal mail – it’s just as easy to spam two thousand sites as it is a thousand … and that’s where my assumption fails. Nonetheless, I’ve found that Akismet has caught onto these and is now blocking them accordingly.

    @ Jonathon: Indeed, a major disadvantage. I’d also like to see Akismet do it’s thing after WordPress first blocks posts for a large number of links, and for key phrases being found (on the one hand, I can see where that’s how they get reported to Akisment, but I’d rather not go through spam that even WordPress could catch).