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The Changing Face Of Spam

Posted by on Aug 18, 2009

You know, I don’t understand spam at all, especially when it’s aimed at blogs. Well, I do, but I’ll get back to it.

Those of us with WordPress blogs, by this time, should all know about Akismet, which learns the patterns of spam and moves it into a spam filter. We can then take the time to look at it to see if there’s something good in there that we want to keep, or delete it, or allow Akismet to delete it as a later time.

These days, I’ve noticed that some spam has gotten smarter, and some has gotten longer. Back in March I wrote about spam getting sneakier, and that hasn’t changed at all. But it keeps getting smarter.

These days, I’m noticing three types of spam coming in. The easiest to spot are the one line items that have a link embedded in them. Sometimes the sentence makes absolutely no sense at all; those folks aren’t even trying.

The second thing I’m noticing is the very long spam messages. These are the types that also show up in email images, where there’s all this text that just makes no sense. But they also include lots of links, which Akismet easily picks up and sends to the spam filter. The problem with the long messages is if you’re going through the spam filter to see if there’s a legit message in there, which I do.

The third, though, is the good stuff. These are the messages that look so real that, I’ve noticed, most people totally miss it. They might notice it if they comment on a lot of blogs, and every once in awhile look at the comments on other blogs, but if they don’t, then they don’t have a chance. Earlier this evening I went ahead and approved a comment that almost looked like spam, only it used my name. Now, if someone has come up with something that actually reads names and puts out a lot of this spam, well, I just got had myself. But it won’t continue, because if one person does it and gets away with it, others will try, and then it’ll be easy to pick all of those out.

I know we all hate spam; how are you dealing with it these days?


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16 Comments »

Chris Peterson:

Dude….
you are not alone in the battle. We all are fighting. Some ignoring, some have BP soaring, mostly we all are learning to live with it. Some things out of our control, I guess.

August 19th, 2009 | 5:03 AM
Mitch:

They are partially out of our control, Chris; Askimet is just great, and gives us back a lot of that control.

August 19th, 2009 | 9:39 AM

You should trust the wordpress program. It’s very good in picking up on spam.
.-= Juan Batista´s last blog ..Work At Home No Fee =-.

August 19th, 2009 | 8:58 PM

hi Mitch,
Do you want to post the comment that almost fooled you? I see quite a bit of spam on other blogs I read (but not much on mine, which I credit to BadBehavior), so I don’t think anything could get past me… but you never know. 😀 ~ Steve, the spam-hating trade show guru
.-= Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..According to Chuck Norris =-.

August 19th, 2009 | 10:44 PM
Mitch:

At this point I don’t have it anymore. There are just some posts that almost seem like the person read what you had to say. But I did catch it, thank goodness.

August 20th, 2009 | 12:05 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

I agree. Some of the spam is easy to spot and delete, but some is getting trickier and better. I’ve seen several lately that I wasn’t sure whether it was spam or a real person.

When in doubt, I let it set for a day or so and think about it.

I try to give people the benefit of the doubt, so some of these may get by me, but I’m going to try to keep them to a minimum.

Have I mentioned lately that I detest spam!

There. I feel a bit better. 😉

Act on your dream!

JD

August 20th, 2009 | 9:20 AM
Mitch:

I feel better also, John, because I’m with you in detesting spam. These people also aren’t coming close to making the money they used to with this stuff, yet they still send it all out.

Then again, if spam is the worst thing we need to deal with, as opposed to all these people stealing information these days, I’ll deal with it.

August 20th, 2009 | 8:16 PM
David:

To deal with spam email-wise, I have always took the approach of having two emails. One for business/personal and another for signing up to things on the internet, which is my dedicated spam email. Anything which comes into the spam email goes in the bin unless it has a rule to keep it out.

For comments, I don’t use WordPress or Askimet. Instead I have Ajaxed comments. So the only way I am going to get automated spam is if someone singles my site out. I have also though about blocking comments from people using names containing words like [seo] and [web design] as even if those lot try to leave legit comments, I still delete them or at least change their name to that of their email or last resort, John Q. Public or Jane Doe 😛
.-= David´s last blog ..Supply and Demand for SEO in the UK =-.

August 20th, 2009 | 8:22 PM
Mitch:

David, if I don’t know the first name and someone leaves a comment with one of those types of names, I go in and change it to their initials.

I have Ajax edit comments on this blog; is that something different than what you mentioned?

And I have multiple email addresses, but since I use Mailwasher, I don’t worry much about email spam.

August 20th, 2009 | 10:02 PM
David:

No, by AJAX I meant the actual commented is posted using AJAX. Since generic spam bots don’t parse JavaScript, I am not going to get spammed.

Had not heard of Mailwasher. Shall take a look.

August 23rd, 2009 | 2:19 PM

Mitch, before I switched on the “All comments waiting for approval” button, my blog is the heaven for all the crooks and spammers! However, they’re flee immediately, once I’ve changed my comment’s policy.
.-= wilhb81´s last blog ..The Useful Business Tips 42: The 5 Great Tips To Be More Efficient in Your Business! =-.

August 21st, 2009 | 11:35 AM
Mitch:

I hate doing that, Wil, because I never know how long I might be away, and don’t want people wondering what happened to their comments. I can handle what I get,… for now. 🙂

August 21st, 2009 | 3:28 PM

Hello Mitch,
I also have Askimet, and still end up encountering spam. The kind of comments that are realistic enough to be genuine. I used to let it pass, but now I can spot it straight away. Though I admit I still have some spam comments on my blog-a-wandering. 🙂
.-= Ana´s last blog ..Dream as your light = live bright =-.

August 22nd, 2009 | 7:41 PM
Mitch:

Glad to see you here, Ana. Yeah, it’s hard to keep up with all this stupid comment spam, but I’m pretty good also. What everyone has to remember is that when you identify it, if it didn’t go to Askimet you have to identify it as spam instead of just deleting it, and Askimet will learn in that way.

August 22nd, 2009 | 8:02 PM

Hey Mitch, Spam comes in so many forms, some blatantly obvious and some not so. Some even come complete with cute avatars. I reckon a lot of bloggers let the not so obvious ones through because they are starved for comments.

OH, before I leave I do believe there is a typo in your last paragraph 😉
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Cash Burners And Their Electronic Super Cigarette =-.

August 23rd, 2009 | 4:54 AM
Mitch:

And that typo is fixed, my man. lol

Yeah, being starved for comments, I can see that, but most of the folks on whose blogs I see spam have other comments; they just miss it. But I’m not mad at them, because it is sneaky, and, like you said, some of them now have avatars.

August 23rd, 2009 | 10:21 AM