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).
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.