Spammers Gonna Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam

Yesterday I signed into my blog for the first time in a week and a half to find 794 comments awaiting moderation.  Every single one was spam.  Since I have the blog send me an e-mail every time I get a comment, that meant I also had 794 extra messages in my e-mail.

Since I first established this website a little more than a year ago, I’ve had a steady stream of spam coming through in comments.  I anticipated that I might get a little spam, so I set all comments to require moderation.  When someone posts a comment and I approve it, future comments by the same poster did not require moderation.  I’ve had a regular trickle of spam messages, usually a couple per day, and I’ve simply marked them as spam.  It’s not that big a deal.  I’ve been using the commenting system that’s built into WordPress.  It’s been working for me, so I’ve seen no need to seek out a plug in to handle comments.

This set of spam messages was different than usual.  It wasn’t just the high volume of messages.  Most spam I get is highly recognizable as spam.  Spam messages are frequently in the kind of stilted English that reeks of automatic generation by a computer.  Many spam messages are nothing more than a list of keywords, each of which is an embedded link to who knows where (I’m certainly not clicking on any of them to find out!) The most hilarious are the forms with multiple selections in every sentence, but no selections have been made.  Here’s a snippet from one of those spam messages:

{I have|I’ve} been {surfing|browsing} online more than {three|3|2|4} hours today, yet I never found
any interesting article like yours. {It’s|It is} pretty worth enough for me.
{In my opinion|Personally|In my view}, if all {webmasters|site owners|website owners|web owners}
and bloggers made good content as you did, the {internet|net|web}
will be {much more|a lot more} useful than ever before.|
I {couldn’t|could not} {resist|refrain from} commenting.

Due to the number of selections, these spam messages go on for at least a single-spaced typed page.  Most spam messages I receive are in English.  Once in a while, I will get one in Chinese or Russian.

Every once in a while, I get messages that are difficult to identify as spam.  These messages tend to ask something that’s not directly on the topic of the blog, but that’s related to blogging in a general way.  What platform do you use for blogging? (WordPress, on a self-hosted site)  What web host do you use? (Hostgator)  Are you anywhere else on the web? (FB (Karen Slongwhite Greene), Twitter (@yarnycurtain), Ravelry (greenegirl), with varying levels of activity on each platform.  If you’re interested in only fiber stuff, find me on Rav.  FB is all about my life, including fiber but so much more.  I do almost nothing on Twitter right now except post links to my new blog posts).  I subscribed to posts and comments and am getting multiple notifications.  Can you remove my subscription? (No.  You have to do this yourself through your own WordPress log in).  You’re an excellent writer, I wish I was more like you.  (Um, flattery alone isn’t getting you past my moderation, but thanks).  When I first started blogging, I wasn’t totally sure if these posts were spam or not.  However, spam messages have two other features that set them apart from valid comments: (1) odd e-mail addresses and (2) advertising links.

The comment form on my website requires you to enter an e-mail address.  There’s another box for a link to your own website if you have one.  While the e-mail addresses do not post on my website, I do see them as part of the message when I am moderating it.  I am highly suspicious when the e-mail extensions are odd — not a .com or .org or .net or .uk.  I am mildly suspicious when someone uses a gmail account.  If you put a website link in the comment form, that link will post onto my site so that anyone visiting my site can click on it.  When the content and e-mail address don’t raise automatic red flags with me, it is the website links that identify the spam.  The website will have nothing to do with fiber.  The most common links claim to be links for specific recognizable fashion brand names — hermes bags or nike, for example.  I sincerely doubt that this is what they actually are; I don’t click on the links to check them, as I assume they are virus-ridden.  I mark any comment with a suspicious website link as spam.

The majority of this most recent spate of spam messages all fell into this more difficult to identify category.  They mostly consisted of well-written English on general blogging topics and had e-mail addresses that weren’t immediately suspicious.  However, they all had weblinks that appeared to be advertisements.  Several of the messages were not in English.  A couple were in French, one in German, a couple in a Scandinavian language, several in Chinese, and several in an Asian language that I did not recognize.  Regardless of language, the spam messages had one feature in common: every single one was a comment on the same blog post (MAPLE LEAF Six and Seven).  All 794 messages came from a dozen or so IP addresses.  These messages started coming in on November 3 and kept coming at regular intervals through November 9.  Now that I’ve marked them all as spam, the deluge has come to a halt; for the time being, I’m back to a handful of messages a day.

This experience has led me to make one small change to the comment procedures on my blog.  All comments now require moderation, even if you’ve posted before.  I intend to make other changes, like finding a comment plug in that incorporates captcha or a plug in that automatically identifies spam.  However, I will do some careful research before I add a plug in.  A couple months ago, I activated one of the most popular spam catching plug ins and I got more spam in 2 hours than I had gotten in all the months I had the blog prior to that.  As soon as I deactivated the plug in, I went back to my usual trickle.

Later this week, I’ll be back with posts on fibery topics.  I haven’t posted recently because I was out of town to attend a friend’s wedding (and Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off has been stuck in my head since the reception, hence the title of this blog post) and four days after we got back, family arrived in town for vacation and we’ve been hanging out with them.  Then I discovered that I had to clear out 794 spam messages and 794 e-mails telling me about the spam messages.  As a result, I’ve been crafting, but haven’t had time to post.  Quick preview: Last Friday, I tied on my first warp using the homemade warp sticks and I’m loving them!  A full review will be forthcoming.

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