October 10, 2003

Scary Comment Spam

Argh. Last night a reader kindly emailed me to let me know of a piece of comment spam with a link to a, shall we say, not very nice website (I'm afraid to use any descriptive terms that might generate still more comment spam). I deleted the comment and banned the IP address, but realized I would have to do something more serious as soon as I got a chance. This morning I discovered the same piece of comment spam to the same entry, and from a very similar IP address (only the last two digits are different). So I've deleted the spam, banned the IP, and closed the comments for that entry.

I believe there are more serious methods to really and truly prevent comment spam? But at the moment, I don't have time to sit down and read up on the topic. So I'll be checking comments and (likely) deleting more comment spam until I get a chance to figure things out. In the meantime, if you see something scary listed under "Recent Comments" in the sidebar, rest assured it's not one of the fine readers of this blog but one of those nasty spammers.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at October 10, 2003 07:49 AM

Same thing happened to me. Based on your description, I think it's probably the same spammer. I don't know of a sure way to stop it either.

Posted by: ogged at October 10, 2003 09:46 AM

http://www.crummy.com/2001/10/28/0: "I was reminded of the "Tar Pit From Hell" theory of discussion boards which I expounded to my co-workers many months ago. It is basically the following: when you add a public discussion forum to your site you are placing your site on a big slab of plexiglass which floats around on the Tar Pit From Hell. As long as no one actually uses the discussion forum, you are safe. But the more people pile on to use the discussion forum, the deeper your site sinks into the Tar Pit From Hell. There are various measures you can take to slow your descent into the Tar Pit From Hell, but none of them deal with the fundamental problem, which is the fact that your site is sinking into a damn tar pit."

Posted by: Sumana at October 10, 2003 12:22 PM

I've just started getting them, and I have to figure out how to ban the IP address.

Posted by: language hat at October 10, 2003 12:40 PM

Via Liz Lawley, there's an excellent solution here. There's other good info here, here, and here.

Posted by: Mike at October 10, 2003 02:11 PM

Don't bother installing the first solution Mike mentions because it is about to be obsoleted by this:


Posted by: Jay Allen at October 10, 2003 06:16 PM

Electrolite has had the same problem and has some information in the comments.

Posted by: Zizka at October 12, 2003 01:27 PM

I got gotten as well, nine times by the same spammer. A not very Nice Site indeed. My real commenters advised redirecting the links in unexpected directions, subverting the spammer's whole purpose. I'd prefer a more comprehensive solution, and look forward to Jay's blacklist...

By the by, for some time now, when browsing with Safari, your sidebar (as well as all entries from 25 Sept. and before) has been down at the bottom of the page, trapped inside the frame of your 26 Sept. entry. This is not true in IE or Mozilla, where all appears as intended. I have no idea what the issue is, but thought you might want to know.

Posted by: KF at October 12, 2003 01:44 PM

"By the by, for some time now, when browsing with Safari, your sidebar (as well as all entries from 25 Sept. and before) has been down at the bottom of the page, trapped inside the frame of your 26 Sept. entry."

Uh oh. I had no idea. And of course I have no idea how to fix this. But thanks, KF, I will look into this problem.

Jay, thank you so much. I will definitely be installing this plugin.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 12, 2003 10:41 PM

The same thing's been happening to me. It was amusing at first, but now is just a pain. They tend to go for older posts, not new ones; and for odd reasons, multiple comment spammers will head for the same entry. As if the assumption is that the value of comment spam is raised by proximity to other comment spam-- a network effect of evil.

Since my blog is set up to only show comments on the individual entry pages, rather than the monthly or category archives, deleting them and rebuilding isn't too much of a pain yet; and MT has an IP banning feature, though I've got the same spammer using three different IP addresses. However, it's clear that some more comprehensive, or intelligent, alternative is greatly needed.

Posted by: askpang at October 13, 2003 01:21 AM

You're not alone, IA.

Calpundit has a post on the same thing:


As does Making Light:


Posted by: David at October 13, 2003 10:14 AM

I realize it's no consolation, but it isn't aimed at you and they don't expect your readers to click on the link. The spammers are trying to take advantage of the fact that you are linked to by many other bloggers, and thus your Google PageRank is high. They're inserting a link (many links) from your pages to theirs, trying to fool Google into thinking your important pages (important because many pages link to them) link to theirs, and thus theirs must be important too. So when someone searches on Google for one of the words they're using for the link (the p-word, the u-word or the l-word), their page will come up high on the list.

It is tricks like this that has made Google less valuable over the last year or so.

Posted by: jam at October 13, 2003 12:58 PM

This goes a long way toward answering a question that's been on my mind (and I believe on Alex Pang's mind also): namely, What is the point of blog comment spam?
I wonder if Google will find ways to defend the integrity of its page rankings against such trickery? Or is it basically a lost cause?

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 13, 2003 09:18 PM

Long Thread on this subject at:


Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 14, 2003 12:57 PM

Thanks, Robert. That's very useful.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at October 14, 2003 09:58 PM

Jay Allen's MT Plug-in works well.

Posted by: bryan at October 16, 2003 03:39 PM