Thursday, August 12, 2010

Comments Policy

Actual posts to resume soon. The next installment of the movie list -- remember that? -- will be up soon. So will some truly, astoundingly cheesy video clips that I think everyone will love. Et cetera. For now, though...

I've set it so that I have to moderate comments. I came home to a dozen spambot messages on recent posts, and they're a pain in the rump to delete one by one if they've already been posted. I've learned from working on The Second Pass that spambots are the worst thing in the world. Over there, I delete literally thousands of their comments for every one real one that gets posted. (I can delete in bulk, but only 20 at a time, so it's not that tough, but pretty tedious). And spambots are indefatigable. (That's the "bot" part. Robots don't get tired. It's their greatest strength. We were all taught that in grade-school social studies.)

So, if you leave a comment and it doesn't show up immediately, that's why. I'll get to them as quickly as I can, I'm sure within a few hours or so. And who knows, this might not even help; I've already had a word verification on, so perhaps the spambots have just evolved.

5 Comments:

Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

What kind of comments do spambots leave? I've never seen one. Is it generic scat?

7:13 PM  
Blogger JMW said...

Thanks for asking, Barbara, though this answer will be more thorough than you could have possibly wanted! I need to share my spambot pain.

On this blog, spambots have been exceedingly rare. Just one or two from time to time. The other night was the first time I’ve had one do a mass posting, and, knock on wood, I expect things to go back to normal now. But it’s on my other site, The Second Pass, where I get deluged. Hundreds a day. And I can break them down -- more or less -- into four categories of increasing incoherence:

First, there are the spam messages that sound more or less like a normal -- if overly enthusiastic -- person, like this (these are all real examples below, taken from the site):

“Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what they’re talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story. I can’t believe you’re not more popular because you definitely have the gift.”

Note the lack of any specificity. This could have been posted about anything. The tone alone (and the fact that a lot of such sentiments are re-used over and over again, verbatim) is enough to recognize it as a spambot. But, hilariously, the “name” of the commenter is always something like “fake gucci handbags” or “videos on demand” or “Xanax.”

Second, there are comments that read as if written by opinionated people, but they’re about something that has nothing at all to do with the site. These appear in waves by subject; lately, there have been several about Tiger Woods. Sometimes they’re about Twilight or Michael Jackson or some other cultural phenomenon.

Third, there are things that sound semi-human, like this:

“It’s the first time I have heard that in Macedonia, obits are an unusual observe. You have wonderfully written the post. I have liked your way of writing this. Thanks for sharing this.”

Fourth, there are “comments” like this one, easy enough to spot as spam. Actually, I’m replacing the full word of the drug with its first initial, because I’m paranoid about spambots “reading” the site and thinking it’s a good target -- suffice it to say, the letter stands for a popular “performance enhancement” drug.

“v side effects
v dosage
v addiction
v recreational use
buy v online uk
buy v medicine no creditcard
v on line cash on delivery
where to order generic v online without a rx”

(That’s actually about 1/25th of a much longer list, just the same kind of thing over and over again.)

Lastly, there are just blocks of text composed of links to god knows what. I would recreate one below, but I don’t want to actually have the hyperlinks on my site. Basically, it’s links or coding -- clearly identifiable as non-comment. This last category is actually my favorite, because you don’t even have to read one or two words to determine whether they’re real or not.

Scanning a large number of spambot messages is a really good way to melt your brain. May you never have to do it.

8:52 AM  
Blogger Barbara Carlson said...

This is horrible! Can nothing be done? Can you get a fresh blog site, change its name? Do all blogs have to delete this non-, sub-, and semi-human crap?

Seems for every creative action, there is an equal and opposite destructive one -- or a hundred -- (but maybe they don't think they are being destructive, just trying to sell product or themselves...what can these non-specific (if enthusiastic) posts writers want?

8:23 AM  
Blogger Dezmond said...

movie list?

10:24 AM  
Anonymous Riles said...

Yeah, let's get this movie list going again!

And, Barbara, if you want to see some entertaining spambot action, check out the comment section on any of the pajiba.com reviews. It can be some funny stuff.

6:25 PM  

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