Comment Spam

I realized that I’m a bit spoiled by my comment spam filtering plugins. On this blog I use two tools that keep the robots out: Akismet and WPSpamFree. And before you say anything about discrimination about robots, let me just say that I don’t care about non-sentient machines. If a true AI awakens somewhere on the internet and feels like posting a comment on my blog, I’m sure it will figure out a way to do it. And if it can’t, it can email me and complain about it. Until then however I’m going to discriminate against the robot race, cause they never post anything interesting.

Every once in a while some of you complain about restrictive spam control here. Sometimes comments get blocked because they have too much links. Not so long ago, quite a few people got blocked just because they were behind a proxy. These are unfortunate glitches and I try to work around them and massage the spam tools to be nicer to people. They are effective, but they lack the much needed people skills… And intelligence. But we are working on that.

In the meantime I wanted to show you this graph, that illustrates the ration of spam comments to non-spam comments on this blog.

Spam vs Ham on Terminally Incoherent

Spam vs Ham on Terminally Incoherent

I didn’t just make up this chart. It came out of my Akismet panel based on the data it collected. Since December 96.73% of comments posted to this blog were pure spam. Can you imagine that? Ninety seven fucking percent! It’s insane!

How many of these spam comments did you see?

None! They were all silently blocked and hidden away so neither you nor I have to deal with them.

Of course, you could say that this graph could be based on only few dozen comments. But it is not – let me post another graph to prove it:

Spam over time - note the recent spikes

Spam over time - note the recent spikes

All in all, I think I’m averaging few hundred to a thousand spam comments each month. Some months seem to be worse than others. For example May and begging of June seem to be particularly bad. I’m not sure if this is just a local fluctuation or an increasing trend. Either way the amount of comments collected over time suggests that the 97% is probably not skewed by a small sample size.

I guess this comes with the territory. Terminally Incoherent seems to be one of the small blogs that are popular enough to get spammed, but not popular enough for the big comment threads to offset the spam-to-ham ratio. Not that I’m complaining.

I’m actually thrilled that I managed to build this small community. I love the fact that I seem to have gained few regular readers who stop by frequently and post insightful comments. I’m also always amazed at the high quality of the discussions we have here. Funny thing is that only time the comment threads seem to degrade is when I get dugg or reddit-ed and we have a temporary influx of new readers.

Anyways, I just wanted to thank you guys for making the delicious ham comments we have here. You make running this blog worth while. And if my spam filtering friends seem annoying sometimes, give them a break. They are doing a great job keeping out all the crap from our comment sections. Without them, spam would drown out any legitimate comments in an endless torrent of unsolicited advertisements.

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12 Responses to Comment Spam

  1. Zel FRANCE Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    96.73% of spam…. Impressive figure… Did you take a look at the filtered comments though ? Maybe they’re all legitimate, maybe you’re in fact hugely popular, each entry of your post generating hundreds if not thousands of replies, and your spam control system is preventing you from contacting your readers and taking over the (e-)world. ;)

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  2. I love the fact that I seem to have gained few regular readers who stop by frequently and post insightful comments. I’m also always amazed at the high quality of the discussions we have here.

    LOL …. i kno, rite? …. me 2!!!!!1

    (But really, I am going to start logging spam attempts (i.e. attempted, but never solved, captchas) on my blog now so I can see how I’m doing. I wonder if I have a similar ratio but on a smaller scale.)

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  3. Oh whoops, that quote should be entitled “Luke said”.

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  4. I saw a spike around the same time, though not as significant. I’m at 99.65% spam, yikes!

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  5. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    You’re right, I never see spam here. I’m really impressed at how much your filters catch, but not quite as impressed by the consistency with which you update here. Thanks for keeping an great blog great for so long!

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  6. jambarama UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    err… my last post included a typo that completely changed the meaning. I said “but not quite as impressed by the consistency with which you update here.” I meant, “but not as impressive as the consistency with which you update here.” What was supposed to be a compliment turned out horribly wrong :(

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  7. Morghan UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Linux says:

    Captchas? I haven’t seen one of those yet. I hate the bloody things, always give me a headache. I’ve had a couple of comments blocked by WPSpamFree, but I think it may have been because I was reading multiple articles I had in my RSS feed and tried to comment on several different ones too close together.

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  8. Matthew UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows says:

    Ah, Spam. I hate it. I wonder how much of worldwide internet traffic is due to this scourge? I hope that we figure out a solution in the next 10 years. Of course, it’s sort of our own fault – spam wouldn’t exist if a certain (small) percent of us didn’t click on spam and buy things from those advertisers.

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  9. Luke Maciak UNITED STATES Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    @Ian G. Clifton: Maybe this is an internet wide spike. Scary!

    @jambarama: No worries, I got the intent of the initial post the first time around. :)

    @Matthew: Yeah, when I think of all that wasted bandwidth I get sad. This is what clogs the tubes – not p2p, or video streaming. It’s the millions of robots sending spam.

    Also, I have no clue who are the people who respond to these things. I know a lot of computer illiterate people, but none of them is dumb enough to buy anything from spammers. I think that people who respond to spam should be publicly flogged. ;)

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  10. Yeah, spam seems to go in cycles with big spikes before it calms down a bit and repeats.

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  11. James Heaver UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Mac OS says:

    Mathew:

    spam wouldn’t exist if a certain (small) percent of us didn’t click on spam and buy things from those advertisers.

    Although you’re probably right, this isn’t neccersarily the case.

    If spammers and spam tool makers are different people then it is only the spam tool makers that need to make money.

    They can claim that people will make money if they buy their products and people fork over a couple of hundred quid for the kit and then fail to see any return. Rinse and repeat.

    Couple this with a few forums full of sock puppets talking about how they’ve made money from spam and you can make a fortune out of the spammers without ever having to sell a penis enlarger.

    But then again you still hear about people of sound mind* falling for 419 scams so…

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  12. Matt` UNITED KINGDOM Mozilla Firefox Windows Terminalist says:

    I’m pink therefore I’m ham? :mrgreen:

    Crazy amounts of spam out there… I think a lot of it comes from people trying to sell stuff, enlisting spammers to do so, and then whether there’s any eventual return or not we’re all choked with 10 million messages per capita.

    Spam will persist for as long as people are willing to pay for spammy advertising for their crap, regardless of whether anyone’s buying from spam. You would hope that eventually they’ll find that it’s ineffective and stop doing it, but whatever happens there’ll either be a group who are dumb enough to buy from spam (and actually make it profitable) or who are dumb enough to advertise via spammers.

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