The Museum of Hoaxes
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Too Much Spam
I've got to say: spammers really suck. My site is being aggressively comment spammed. Hundreds of comments inviting people to check out 'interesting' information about personal finance credit reports, etc. are appearing on posts throughout my site. Most of it is being left on older entries, where I guess the spammer figures I won't notice it. The spam seems to be coming from a wide variety of different servers throughout Europe, which makes it impossible for me to effectively IP ban it.

As a consequence I've been wasting a lot of time deleting it all. An increasingly large amount of time every day. I've finally decided that enough is enough. The spammer has won, in the sense that I can no longer keep the comment feature on my site totally open (to be honest, I was surprised I was able to keep it open as long as I have). I've decided to activate the feature of my blogging software that requires every comment to be approved by me before it appears on the site. This will mean that absolutely no spam will make its way onto the site, since although spammers can easily get past software-based screening methods, they can't get past a human being.

Unfortunately it'll also mean that people won't have the instant gratification of seeing their comments appear right away, though it shouldn't take long for me to approve the messages (it's just a single click of a button)... a minute or two if it's during the day when I'm sitting at my computer. Obviously longer on the weekend or at night. The only other options are to a) only allow people who have registered as 'members' to post anything. But this would eliminate casual visitors from ever leaving any comments; or b) require people to type in a 'captcha' code every time they post a message, but I think this would be more of a pain in the neck than just waiting a minute or two to see your comment appear. Plus, a spammer could type in the code if he/she was determined enough.

On the positive side, having me approve every comment means that if you choose the option to be notified by email whenever someone responds to your comment, you can be confident that you won't be opening yourself up to spam by doing this.

It would be nice if I could selectively turn on the approval feature. Require approval for comments left on older posts and leave newer posts open. But I can't. It's an all-or-nothing feature. So that's the way it's got to be. Blame it on the spammers. (and by the way, this change doesn't affect the message board, which runs on different software).
Update: Guillaume emailed me with a good suggestion. Do a combination of allowing people to register as members and moderating comments. If people register as a member they can post and immediately have their comments appear. If they're not registered they can still post, but they'll just have to wait to wait to have their comments appear. That's definitely do-able, though it'll take me a day to figure out how to set it up. But it seems like a good compromise.
Miscellaneous
Posted by The Curator on Sat Nov 06, 2004
Damn those spammers! Which of the older posts have been spammed?
Posted by john  in  NH  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  02:30 PM
If you're using Movable Type, you should use MT-Blacklist

http://www.jayallen.org/projects/mt-blacklist/

In one fell swoop, it pretty much solves the comment spam problem, and makes it almost one-click-simple to remove mass amounts of comment spam should any somehow get through.
Posted by David  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  02:45 PM
Which older posts have been spammed? Hundreds of them. Every morning when I check the site I find tons of spam in the recent comment list... so then I spend the next fifteen or twenty minutes deleting it all. Then it keeps coming in throughout the day.

I'm not using MovableType. I'm using a program called Expression Engine, which I've been pretty happy with. I'll explore and see if there's any kind of blacklist program I can subscribe to.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  03:08 PM
Who wants to hear about interesting personal finance credit reports?
Posted by Owen Gilbride  in  NB  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  06:02 PM
Registering has become the best way to regulate spam. Concider the at the head of the line.
Posted by gunner  in  Tennessee  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  08:17 PM
I would not enable the registration feature if I were you.

I'm guessing these spams are not automated, so the person doing the spamming would only have to register, then go to it. It doesn't seem like it would help the situation.
Posted by coit  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  08:30 PM
I feel sorry that you had to go through this hassle because of the spammers. I think this is a great page and hope you continue without trouble.
Posted by Mark  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  09:26 PM
A spammer could register and then go at it. But then I would simply delete them as a member. They could then register again. And I would delete them again. But they would end up wasting way more of their own time doing that than I would... and for what? I assume they'd eventually get tired of playing that game.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sat Nov 06, 2004  at  11:00 PM
Just how does one register with this site?
Posted by BugbearSloth  in  earth  on  Sun Nov 07, 2004  at  12:03 AM
Spammers DO suck. But I agree with what you're proposing to do, so YAY for a spam-free future of Museum of Hoaxes! =)
Posted by Mewtaila  in  Happy Place, Free Country USA  on  Sun Nov 07, 2004  at  12:40 AM
The lowest levels of hell have been saved for spammers(well spammers and paedophiles)

It's one of the perils of running a well known site, my wife and I run a sucessful web business, we get hundreds of spam emails a day, I've little doubt it's easily as bad for the museum, probably worse.

Spammers are scum, they know what they're doing, they know no one cares about what they have to offer. It's like their only real goal in life is to irritate others.

I'm sorry you feel you have to do this, but if it keeps the scum away, then it's for the best.
Posted by Sharruma  in  Arizona  on  Sun Nov 07, 2004  at  02:07 AM
I'm in favor of capitol punishment for convicted spammers.
Posted by Captain Al  on  Sun Nov 07, 2004  at  04:10 PM
You might want to know that a spammer in America got nine years in jail plus a $7500 fine.
Posted by Doug  on  Sun Nov 07, 2004  at  09:45 PM
cool cheese good GAWD I thought there for a moment that you were going to take down the forum!
....of course, you're NOT....are you? big surprise
Posted by troubledexperiment001  on  Sun Nov 07, 2004  at  09:52 PM
If you need moderators, let us know. The comments may become to much. And I am sure that there are a few loyal members that would spend some time to help you out.

Omne
Posted by blackomne  in  WY  on  Mon Nov 08, 2004  at  12:11 PM
Damn . . . if only you could track them all down. smile
Posted by Ariel  on  Mon Nov 08, 2004  at  08:59 PM
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