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Spam Spam How I Hate Spam.

Nov13

Written by:
2009/11/13 11:23 AM RssIcon

SpamEvery internet user, whether you are a blogger, reader, or just a casual browser or email user, has been affected by spam at some point. Spam is the plague of the internet. More and more energy is being poured into trying to find more effective ways of combating spam.

It is a difficult balancing act trying to keep out spammers as well as trying to make your blog and website user friendly and easy to use. The more tools you use to block spam, the harder it is for users and readers to read and comment on your blog.

What is spam?

Holidaying in the UK I came face to face with spam literally. Spam is canned meat pressed into a loaf similar to corned beef but has pork as its main ingredient.

According to the Internet Society and other sources, the term spam is derived from the 1970 SPAM sketch of the BBC television comedy series "Monty Python's Flying Circus". The sketch is set in a cafe where nearly every item on the menu includes SPAM canned luncheon meat. As the waiter recites the SPAM-filled menu, a chorus of Viking patrons drowns out all conversations with a song repeating "SPAM, SPAM, SPAM, SPAM... lovely SPAM! Wonderful SPAM!", hence "SPAMming" the dialogue.

Spam is the abuse of electronic messaging systems (including most broadcast media, digital delivery systems) to send unsolicited bulk messages indiscriminately. While the most widely recognized form of spam is e-mail spam, the term is applied to similar abuses in other media: instant messaging spam, Usenet newsgroup spam, Web search engine spam, spam in blogs, wiki spam, online classified ads spam, mobile phone messaging spam, Internet forum spam, junk fax transmissions, social networking spam, and file sharing network spam. Thanks Wikipedia.

Combating spam.

Combating spam takes a whole lot of effort. There is a whole industry devoted to combating spam. From anti-spam websites to anti-spam tools, there are many many tools available that will help in this regard. While most are free, the spam industry has opened some doors for people to make huge amounts of money. Many will pay huge sums of cash to purchase tools that will help reduce and combat spam.

You can obviously combat spam manually by trying to monitor and delete any unwanted spam entries in your blog or guestbook or email. But at the rate that spammers go, it gets a bit difficult. You and I need help.

I originally had my blog comments protected via a captcha. But users were complaining that they were experiencing problems with the captcha in different browsers and environments.

So I disabled the captcha feature on my blog comments, hoping to make commenting easier for readers. Guess what, the spammer soon found out and started really spamming my comments. It has been a real battle trying to moderate and clean up the spam. I do not want to spend most of my day filtering out spammy comments.

Tools for combating spam.

As mentioned before there are various tools available for combating spam. I am not going to mention all but just those that would directly affect me as a blogger, this blog and perhaps you as a blogger.

There is a whole industry related to combating spam. Just do a Google search.

NoFollow – One of the original uses of comment spam is to try and steal link juice and PR from blogs. Google have brought out the “nofollow” tag in an effort to make the practice of spam null and void. Although it does work, it has not been that successful. Many blog comments are still littered with spam; the links now are just dead links as far as PR is concerned.

Disallow Linking – You can disallow linking in your comments. But as mentioned above, this does not stop spammers, they just filter your comments with dead links.

Turn off comments – This is definitely the ultimate spam buster, but not a good option for bloggers. Turning off comments not only blocks spammers, but everyone else. If you are not interested in comments on your blog, I have to wonder why, then this might be an option.

Captcha – A captcha is a visual element that tries to prove whether you're human or not. Captcha is actually an acronym for "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". Captcha has proven an effective method in combating spam. It can be as simple as a question that a human can answer, like what is the sum of  5+6? It can be as complicated as determining colours in a picture to differentiating numbers and letters from a background in a picture. But as I found out, not all capture services work with all blogs and all browsers.

User Login – You could always disallow guest posting and require users to login to your blog before commenting. No comments, no spam. But as mentioned before, this becomes really irritating to users. It also discourages the casual guest commentator. Not to mention that spammers can also create user accounts. This method does prove to be more efficient than the others, but more difficult for commentators.

Askimet – Using plug-ins like Askimet is very popular now days for combating spam. This has proven to be very effective in certain situations. The downside is that it is not available for all blog software. The other downside is that the Askimet algorithm might catch legitimate comments.

Disqus Disqus is a completely separate and different commenting system. An effective way of combating spam. Separated from your blog, all comments are stored on Disqus’ database. Disqus also allows you to moderate your comments across multiple websites that use Disqus. You can edit or even retract comments from one manageable single source.  There are two issues that I have with Disqus. One, It does not work on all blog systems, although I believe that they are working frantically trying to remedy that situation. It does work on the majority of top end and popular blogging systems. It also has a general plug-in for blogging packages that it does not support directly. Two, you stand a chance of not displaying your comment history. Because Disqus is a completely separate commenting system, you do not use the default commenting system on your blog. If your blog has hundreds or thousands of comments, then this could be a big problem. As of this writing Disqus does not have a way of importing your historical comments.

Conclusion

After trying out the no captcha option on my blog, I was flooded with spam. I ended up spending more and more time searching the database for spam comments and deleting them. This has just become more of an issue. I haven’t been able to get the Askimet plug-in to work correctly with my blogging software.  I was able to get Disqus to work somewhat though.

But disabling historical comments was not an option. So I am testing both. At this moment the default blogging system on my blog is protected by captcha and moderation. However, you can also make use of the Disqus commenting system.

Please try it out and let me know what you think and how it works for you. Is it easier to use or more frustrating?

Update:

Well I had Disqus working. Went to the Disqus setting page, change some of the defaults. you know, name, description, display, things like that. Now no one can post a Disqus comment. Also I found that the Disqus JavaScript is not  working in IE8.

If you find the same. Please use the normal comments below to let me know your experience. If you find your having trouble with Disqus and DNN, let me know. Also be so kind as to let me know which browser you were using.

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6 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Spam Spam How I Hate Spam.

Interesting Nathan. I did email the guys at Disqus, and they replied back to say that you cannot import historical comments into Disqus. I suppose syncing and importing are different.

BTW, I tried to reply to your comment thread, but I keep on getting a postback and my blog refreshes. I think it is because of the odl blog comments and the captcha. Once again Captcha interferes. I think.

Update: I turned the Captcha off, and Still get postback on reply. mmmm

By Robert Bravery on  2009/11/13 04:49 PM
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Re: Spam Spam How I Hate Spam.

Interesting Nathan. I did email the guys at Disqus, and they replied back to say that you cannot import historical comments into Disqus. I suppose syncing and importing are different.

BTW, I tried to reply to your comment thread, but I keep on getting a postback and my blog refreshes. I think it is because of the odl blog comments and the captcha. Once again Captcha interferes. I think.

Update: I turned the Captcha off, and Still get postback on reply. mmmm

By Robert Bravery on  2009/11/13 04:58 PM
Gravatar

Re: Spam Spam How I Hate Spam.

Test comment 3: IE8
previous Chrome comments have not appeared. Let's see about this one.
You apparently have moderation activated, as I got a popup indicating such. This would mean that perhaps the others are awaiting approval as well.

By Jimi Jones on  2009/11/13 09:21 PM
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Re: Spam Spam How I Hate Spam.

Jimi,

Sorry for the confusion, but this worked because you use the old comment system. I left this on for just this reason. Had to have some feedback in case the Disqus did not work correctly

By Robert Bravery on  2009/11/13 09:24 PM
Gravatar

Re: Spam Spam How I Hate Spam.

How's this one working?

By Jimi Jones on  2010/01/19 10:07 PM

Oh how I love Spam! Lessons on accepting what Is in your life

One of the peculiarities of life is the way in which each of us engage in living, while Robert Bravery’s post, about the scourge that is Spam (go read it it’s full of good tips for thwarting spam), struck a nerve with me and will with most any blogger...
# MYL | Monetize Your Life

By TrackBack on  2010/01/19 10:07 PM
 
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