Spam Settings On My Blogs

Last week I talked about adding Akismet back on one of my blogs to help in my fight against spam and Brian Hawkins had a post on his blog about crazy things people do to control spam, impugning my wondrous reputation by griping about something I do (LOL) on this blog. Regardless, we all end up having to deal with spam in one fashion or another.

Agent [smith]
[martin] via Compfight

Some people do some crazy things, as Brian stated, but I find the majority of people don’t know what they can do to fight some of the spam at least. Therefore, I thought I’d share what I have set up on my blog under the Discussion settings area and then talk about my settings in the GASP plugin, since I’ve already talked about AkismetIf you don’t know about the Settings / Discussion area this is a good time to go there and follow along as I tell you why I’ve set up what I’ve done.

The first thing you see are the default article settings. I have all of mine checked, but if you use the GASP plugin and have unchecked the box saying to block all trackbacks, the middle choice makes no difference. If you don’t want comments on your blog you can uncheck the last box.

Next we have other comment settings. I have checked the first one, which should be standard for everyone.

I don’t want people logging into my blog so that’s unchecked. Actually, back a few years ago it was recommended that you don’t allow people to register on your blog because some folks knew how to then break into the rest of your blog once they had gained even a modicum of access. The new CommentLuv Premium gives owners the option of allowing it to have access to more posts, but I still wouldn’t recommend doing it.

I have the box checked talking about automatically closing comments on posts and I’ve added the number 720 in the final box, which is just under 2 years. Many spammers target old posts and I figure that people can read them but two years is long enough for someone to discover them and comment on them.

The next box I have checked and I’ve added 9 into the box, though many people only have it set at 4. I hope for extended conversation but I’ve never reached 9. By the way, this doesn’t work for all blog themes, so you might have to add a plugin to get it to work correctly. For this theme, which is older, I had to add the Threaded Comments plugin, but for all my other blogs this works fine.

I have the final box unchecked, which means that if I end up with more than 50 comments they’ll continue on the same page instead of turning it into more than one page. Frankly, it can be confusing going to a blog and seeing that there are a bunch of comments yet not seeing them. I think it messes up continuity, so I have it turned off.

I’m skipping the email me whenever and going to the next one, before a comment appears. I have both unchecked because frankly I hate moderation and thus I won’t do it to anyone else. Now, some folks are probably saying “hey, my comment ended up in moderation”; we’ll get to that.

Next up is comment moderation. I don’t have anything in the main box here and I’ll tell you why. To me, why would I want to add words or domain names or numbers to have things go into moderation, or the pending area? Anything that goes into moderation might as well go into the spam filter so I can review everything in there. Now, this used to be an easier decision when you could approve a comment directly out of the spam area but since WordPress took that option away and sends comments to the pending area instead (a stupid move people), you might decide to have some things go into pending instead, since now you have duplication of effort. Having said that, I do have a 1 in the box about links, so if you add a link it does head to moderation.

Soldier from 1 Yorks on Patrol in Afghanistan
UK Ministry of Defence via Compfight

The final thing I’m going to talk about here is the comment blacklist space. This is where you can list words or urls or IP addresses, which are those numbers under each comment you see in the Admin area of comments, and if the comments have any of these associated with them they’ll automatically go to the spam filter. What I’ve done is added a few specific words that I know are spam since I’d never write about any of that stuff here, and I’ve added lots of IP addresses.

This part bothers Brian a little bit because there’s a lot you’ll end up having to do, but there is a shortcut. For instance, there are some IPs that send you multiple comments but rotate the third and fourth set of numbers. I’ve taken care of that by logging just the first two numbers, and from that point anything that comes in with the first two sets of numbers automatically goes into spam. That’s ended up saving lots of time.

Okay, let’s talk about the GASP plugin settings briefly, since I know most people just go with the defaults. I left many defaults so I’m only going to talk about the things I’ve changed.

First, I’ve unchecked the box for trackbacks, which I mentioned earlier. Yeah, I know that it offers a way for others to let you know they’ve written about you but there’s no real SEO benefit to it and it’s how spammers can really bombard your blog. I unchecked it during a time period when I was averaging nearly 20 spam messages an hour that were all trackback spam; ugh!

The big one, the most controversial I suppose, is the next to last box, which says Maximum number of words allowed in name field. I’ve put 2 in there, which seems to be throwing a lot of commenters into the spam filter, and those are the folks who believe they’re being moderated. Sorry but that’s staying, and we’ll just have to hope that I pull your comments out of the spam box. The overwhelming number of spam that comes in is keyword spam, and most of those keywords are 3 or more words. Most people either go with one name or first and last name. A few of you have decided to add your initial; that’s on you. Also, some of you continue to add keywords to the end of your name because some people offer the Keyword plugin; I don’t. I used to take the time to remove all of that but now it’s rare I’ll remove it, especially if you’re a return commenter. At least now you know why I do it.

That’s that. I didn’t think it would turn out to be this long but there you are. If this is new stuff to you then it’s worth it. If it’s something you hadn’t thought about in awhile then it’s also worth it. And if you don’t like it… LOL!
 

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Strange Looking Spam

What is it with spam? Truthfully, I get the part about trying to get backlinks by almost any means necessary. But some of it is even confusing to me because it really makes no sense.

Over the past couple of weeks, in high volume no less, I’m getting stuff that looks like this:

Star2Pros – Get off the lower ladders…

[…This trackback notifies you of the usage of…]…


sarcodosis skin problems…

[…]the time to read or visit the content or sites


Effective Weight Loss Programs…

[…]below, are a few not really different sites than this one, but still the sites are absolutely worth checking out[…]…


1.) Home Security…

2.) […]here are some links to sites that we link to because we think they are worth visiting[…]…


1.) Keys, locks and more…

2.) […]we came across a cool site that you might enjoy. Take a look if you want[…]…


Weight Loss Secrets…

[…]even though the URLs we hyperlink beneath are completely not that similar to ours, we posit that they are worth visiting, so have a look[…]…


If I’m getting stuff like this, almost everyone else has to be getting this type of thing as well. My question is twofold. One, if I’m running the GASP Anti-Spambot program, doesn’t it mean this stuff is getting through because someone is deliberately doing it? And if so, who in their right mind would think that anyone who’s paying attention would look at this stuff and say “yeah, that looks legit, I think I’ll keep it around?

Here’s comment on the first question. I’m at the point now where I’m starting to think someone has come up with software to get around the plugin. I say that because I’ve always been under the impression that if someone didn’t check that box, nothing was getting through. I knew that some stuff would still end up in the Akismet spam filter, but I didn’t think it would get to voluminous so quickly, and it has, across all 4 of my blogs. I know Sire discovered that some nefarious folks are actually paying people to post blog comments, but I can’t believe anyone would pay someone to post junk like above.

Here’s my comment on the second question. I don’t think anyone really cares about the message so much as they care about seeing what they can get away with. With all of the messages above having the same style, it seems more possible that the set up of the message might have something to do with how it all gets through the plugin. I’m not technical enough to know how it could be related, but the proof is in the pudding (another saying I have no idea where it comes from).

The thing is that it gives the impression that it’s trackback spam, but it’s not. I’ve gone to a couple of the websites that end up being shown as the domain name and there’s never any mention of one’s website or blog post, thus it’s not that. Still, I’m trying the option GASP gives you in eliminating the ability of anyone to send trackbacks to your blog, just to test it for a couple of days. I don’t have much faith that it’ll stop, since I don’t think it’s related to trackbacks.

Man, these spam people are just so smart and creative, aren’t they? I guess we should be thankful that they’re not trying to figure out how to take money out of our bank accounts before it even gets there.

But we’re not. 🙁
 

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