Saturday, June 8, 2013

Attack of the Spambots!



Sketch by Cat Troiano
Babbling Books has been beset by evil forces. It started as a trickle of spam messages appearing on old posts. It began to slowly build. It has reached a point where scores of these little beasties are attempting to post themselves upon my site on a daily basis. I have even discovered a few in the upholstery of my sofa and two under the sheets of my bed. At least my cat is happy as this morning I found one in a half devoured state on the floor.

As first Blogger’s spam filtering caught most. However as the vermin multiplied, more and more crept through. I would check my inbox more and more frequently and zap them in an attempt to stem the tide. Within the past few weeks the little buggers have nearly overwhelmed me.

Seriously, due to the massive influx of spam comments I have been forced to take defensive measures. It has reached the point where there are over sixty attempted postings per day. I have resisted doing so for too long as I hate to make it difficult for folks to leave comments. I absolutely loathe word verification so that option was out of the question. I attempted to set Blogger’s options to allow registered comments only. Though this is supposed to allow users of Wordpress, Twitter, etc. to easily comment, several of my fellow bloggers have informed me that they were unable to leave comments when I set this option. I believe that I have settled upon a good solution by enabling comment moderation. Though I know that this removes some of the feeling of instant gratification involved with leaving a comment, it seems to be the least burdensome alternative. I realize that scourge has, as of late, made it impossible for folks to subscribe to follow up comments. It should be now be safe to do so.

If anyone has any difficulties leaving comments (other then the known issue of it being very inconvenient to leave comments on Blogger when using some mobile operating systems) feel free to email me at EmperorbjtATGmail.com or tweet me at @BrBabblingBooks.

47 comments:

Suko said...

Spam can be a real problem! You have to do what works for (and hopefully my comment will go through).

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Suko - Looks like your comment has come through. Since I posted this there have been 14 spams!

Rachel Bradford said...

I had to make this same move a while back - I don't like word verification, but I don't want people to see all that spam when they go to my blog! Now I get plenty of real people making the same comment twice because they miss the note "this comment is being moderated" or whatever it says - they think their message just didn't go through. I feel sort of bad for those people - I want people to enjoy commenting! But you gotta do what you gotta do!

Rachel Bradford said...

No! I just left a comment and it disappeared! I'll try to remember what I said.... ;)

Séamus Duggan said...

I did the same thing quite a while back, Brian. Only downside really is that you can feel like you have to go online more often in order to ensure comments are moderated quickly. (I don't need prompting to go online.)

Amateur Reader (Tom) said...

It has been brutal recently, hasn't it?

I compromised by only moderating after 21 or 28 days or something like that. I don't know. I am with you on the word verification, that is for sure.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Rachel - I can see how the double commenting thing can happen. There is so much spam coming! Just since I put this post up there have been dozens!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Seamus - Indeed it will likely prompt me to come on line more often. It turns out that I can easily approve comments from a bile device however.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Tom - The moderating after a month or so would not work. Even this post is attracting massive spam. I think some kind of automated systems hoe found my blog.

stujallen said...

spam can be very annoying I ve seen recent comments on mine seem real til see url then see it isn't very clever ,all the best stu

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Stu - Indeed the messages sometimes look legitimate. However the way that I can easily tell is that they all come through as anonymous.

Caroline said...

We are flooded at wordpress too. They used to catch them all but now I see the most sordid messages on older posts. I don't get it.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Caroline - I think that the automatic spam programs are getting smarter and are better able to evade the countering software. I also think that as time goes by more and more of the bad guys and bad programs find a particular blog to target.

bookaroundthecorner said...

Sorry this is happening to you. It's very annoying.
Good luck with moderating comments.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Emma- I think that the moderation will not be a really big deal and should work out OK. Thanks for the understanding.

Guy Savage said...

testing... I am one of those who couldn't comment last week.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Guy - Hopefully with this arraignment there will be no trouble commenting.

....Petty Witter said...

Ah, the age-old problem of spam - one of the worst four lettered words around.

Unable to find an alternative that suits me better I have reverted to using word verification which thankfully doesn't seem to deter my regular followers though I dare say it might put new ones off.

Heidi’sbooks said...

That is really bad news. If that happened to me, I wouldn't know what to do. Why are people creeps? They must have targeted you because you have a really nice blog.

Parrish Lantern said...

Spamming can be a real annoyance, even the poem I wrote concerning the loss of my mother was constantly being spammed. Comment moderation is quite easy if you get notified & use either a bookmark of your dashboard or the blogger app on a handheld device such as your phone or a tablet.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Petty - When I try to comment on a blog with word verification I always tough it out and leave the comment. Sometimes it means entering several words. I am just not sure that everyone does.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Heidi - Thanks for the compliment.

I actually do not believe that there are human minds behind this. I think that it is automated systems that find blogs to zero in upon. We are fighting robots!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Parish - The comment moderation does not seem like it will be a problem for me. I just worry about my commenters missing the instant gratification. The good news is that now folks can subscribe to follow up comments and not be bothered by the spam.

Naida said...

What a pain the spambots are. If you're finding them in your sofa and under the bed sheets, there's a problem :)
Seriously though, I understand about moderating the comments. I had to do the same thing over at my crochet blog, and lo and behold, the spam comments really slowed down after that. So I think it does work at not only being in control of what comments to publish but also at deterring the bots from commenting at all.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Naida - I think that you are correct. I believe that one reason that I am getting so many now is that the systems detect when their comments are getting through. Before I instituted the moderation a lot were getting though.

Andrew Blackman said...

It's weird - I've been noticing a lot more spam recently too. Maybe the spambots are launching a global offensive ;-) I use Wordpress and in the past Akismet caught almost everything, but recently they've been getting through, although thankfully not to the same levels as with you. 60 a day?? That's just horrible. Takes the joy out of what is supposed to be a pleasurable activity of running a blog. Hope this solves it! Personally I'm not bothered by comment moderation - it's a LOT better than those irritating Captchas.

Miguel said...

Brian, I'm sorry to hear you're having trouble with spambots! I hope things improve.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Andrew - The moderation seems to be working fine. There are still lots of the little nasties trying to get through however.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Miguel - As I have mentioned, the moderation seems to be working fine. Though this things still lurk out that, peace in the realm has been restored.

vb said...

i have been quite help up with my work related travel that took me to places were there were no internet access and phew when I get back this what greets me..I agree with word verification step but yes you would have to check in your mails more than you used yet its worth it... and I'm off to read all the missed posts!!!!

vb said...

i have been quite help up with my work related travel that took me to places were there were no internet access and phew when I get back this what greets me..I agree with word verification step but yes you would have to check in your mails more than you used yet its worth it... and I'm off to read all the missed posts!!!!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi VB - Perhaps the lack of internet access was a blessing in disguise:) Welcome back!

vb said...

thanks Brian so what are you currently reading?? I have been dying to share the books I have read...

Brian Joseph said...

Hey VB - i was just over looking at your blog!

Though I usually keep my readers in suspense I will reveal my current reading list to you!

The Brothers Karamazov - Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Our Mutual Friend - Charles Dickens


Though I have completed I am currently thinking and writing about:

Lafayette - Harlow Giles Unger

Lost to the West: The Forgotten Byzantine Empire That Rescued Western Civilization - Lars Brownworth

I will have posts up on all of these in the coming weeks.

Richard said...

Brian, I went to comment moderation a long time ago and think it mostly serves its purpose. Unfortunately, I decided to cancel anonymous comments from being left a while ago because almost all my spam was anonymous in nature (this has had the terrible side effect of preventing at least one of my semi-regular readers from being able to leave comments because he has a self-hosted Wordpress-based domain which won't allow him to leave comments as a Wordpress user for some reason; I suspect a few random [non-blogging] readers can't leave comments as well now, which is a shame, but I just got fed up with deleting stupid spam before it even got to the level you talk about receiving here). Annoying!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Richard - I hopefully can deal with the delation thing. But there have been so many pieces. Yesterday it may have it a hundred! Though I rarely get anonymous comments I need to be careful not to delete any real ones.

Ryan said...

I hope my comment gets through. I'd hate to think you thought I was a spambot.

Brian Joseph said...

I Ryan - You made it! But I cannot be too careful. If I doubt I must zap it!

Lucy said...

I hope you are enjoying The Brothers Karamazov! Sorry to hear about the spam. I use a Disqus comment system which seems to stop anything spam-like coming through. I hope the situation improves with your changes!

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Lucy - This system seems to be working wee though someone said that they got an error when they attempted to comment. Dare I say the level of spam has decreased in the last day or so.

Harvee @ Book Dilettante said...

On blogger, I checked "Registered Users Only" for comments, and that has taken care of spam for me. Unfortunately, I don't know who else might be blocked out.

Brian Joseph said...

Hi Harvee - I tried the "Registered Users Only" Thing at first. As I understand it the system should allow people who have various accounts, Wordpress, Twitter, AIM etc., easily comment. Unfortunately several folks with Wordpress accounts reported that they could not comment, though others with Wordpress accounts could. The comment moderation seems to be working well. I think that the auto mated systems somehow know that the spam is not getting through as the level of attempted postings have sharply decreased in the last few days.

Whispering Gums said...

New here but noticed this discussion thread. I'm wordpress and use comment moderation. I'm not sure what blogger does but wordpress accepts comments from an already approved commenter so comments are really only moderated once (unless they come in again under a different identity, or they are absent for a long time).

I hate word verification too.

Brian Joseph said...

Hello Sue (Whispering Gums) -Thanks for stopping by!

I noticed the feature that you mentioned on Wordpress blogs. I really like the idea but I do not think that it is option on Blogger.

Maria Behar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Maria Behar said...

Hi, Brian!

Oh, what a funny post! I've had to deal with these "little beasties" myself. I did use to have word verification and comment moderation enabled, but I removed them, because I wanted my readers to be able to comment as easily as possible. I even went as far as removing the "registered user" requirement. Thus, anonymous comments were possible. Ye gads!!! I became INUNDATED with spam comments!! So I quickly restored the "registered user" requirement. I didn't restore the other two, though.

Some time back, I started getting spam from two REGISTERED USERS, believe it or not! So I did restore comment moderation for a while. However, since my blog doesn't get that many comments, in spite of all the so-called GFC and Linky followers, I was afraid of losing what few comments I WAS getting. So I removed comment moderation again. Thankfully, I've had no more problems.

I do have a warning posted below my comment box though: "WARNING: SPAMMERS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED". And I make sure to remove any such comments the moment I find them!

So I can definitely relate to your "spam pain"! Lol. I sure hope that using comment moderation really works out for you! I know I won't be deterred by it, because I LOVE to comment on your blog. If I sometimes don't comment for a while, rest assured that I'll make up for that by coming over and leaving two or three comments at a time!

Hope you're enjoying your Saturday!! :)

Brian Joseph said...

Hey Maria - The moderation thing seems to be working well. I too fear that too many checks will deter comments. Interesting about the registered users leaving spam. The automated systems may be learning to resisted.

No need to explain about the frequency of comments. Life getsso busy!