Monday, June 9, 2014

Help! My blog is being "comment" spammed

It started slowly, the comment spamming of

More than 50 spam comments a day were being lobbed at me and my posts by the time I declared war – at least a major skirmish – on these robo-commenting sons of spam. 

The battle continues.

First, a definition.  Comment spam, also called blog spam or social spam, is a form of spamdexing, according to my online research. Think robo calls to a blog site.

Comment spam is automated, random comments that include links to commercial services of all stripes – from gambling to herbal mixes -- that are sent out en masse to blogs or any guestbook that allows open or anonymous comments.

The comment spammers’ goals are to increase the spammer’s website’s search engine ranking (online mentions), plus visibility, link clicks….and to aggravate the blogger. (I added the last part.) 

So, just like the spam that sometimes reaches folks’ e-mail and fax machines, even cell phones, comment spam is aggravating and inevitable in today’s cyber world. But it can be guarded against. I am learning about that, and battling comment spam takes more than a good, active computer security system (installed and working as I type). 

Stopping comment spam, I've learned, takes a little bit more. 

At first, comment spam came just once in a while to my personal blog. I'd get a random comment from “Anonymous," saying sometime general or jumbled.  Then the anonymous commenter added:  check out my detox cleanse or…table top ovens or some site with the SEX word in it. 

The actual first comment spam came on a post about Spring Breaks past and invited me to their website to learn more about generic Cialis. Yes, Inappropriate…..and probably not needed on most Spring Breaks.

Here is a notice about comment spam I received, via e-mail, just this morning.  

“Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Learning from writers every day; Live forever Bill...": 
What's up, the whole thing is going fine here and ofcourse every one is sharing information, 
that's really excellent, keep up writing.
My blog post

I never click on the spammer’s website, but I Googled this name. Sbobet is an online gambling and bookmaking site, headquartered in Asia, which offers betting in all major sports in multiple languages. As if worldwide gambling isn't bad enough, it goes and promotes itself with comment spam. BAD website. 

That last part -- publish, delete, mark as spam -- comes with every e-mail notice about anonymous comments.  This comment won’t be posted unless I say so. Therefore, I mark as spam and/or just delete, but it’s time-consuming and …did I say aggravating?

That particular post, “Learning from writers everyday; Live forever Billy Joe Shaver” was written after an Alabama Writers Conclave meeting and included a Shaver quote and picture of me and Billy Joe taken when he was at Zydeco in Birmingham. That post holds my blog’s comment spam record after receiving more than 70 (and counting) anonymous spam comments. Most of these were and are being stopped by’s spam filter. 

Don’t ask me why so much comment spam targeted this post that included a prized picture of me and Billy Joe Shaver, my honky tonk songwriting hero. But, I know Billy Joe wouldn’t put up with it for a minute. He would write some clever rhyming response and back it up, like he did in "Wacko in Waco,'' when somebody messed with him and his.

But, me, I just kept thinking this comment spam would go away; instead it sped up.

When I finally sat down to address the issue, my already crowded e-mail was overflowing with anonymous comments notices, 10, 20, 30 a day, so much so I worried I would miss some real e-mail, like maybe news from a friend, a writing opportunity or job search response. Hey, it could happen.

So I researched and got to work on my blog’s dashboard.  I found 841 comments in the spam comments section, more than 50 pages of comment spam that were never posted. I deleted all.

And then I deleted another 20 or more spam comments from the 80 or so published comments --the real published comments.  See, the real comments  from real readers are truly cherished by me and other bloggers. So, I hesitate to initiate one of the stop-comment-spam safeguards, which is disallowing anonymous comments. But I may have to.

The tainting of real comments (plus the aggravation) is what it so dastardly about comment spam. What is supposed to be real feedback, maybe even a compliment from a treasured reader, is a sideways, sneaky advertisement for anything and everything from little blue pills to work-at-home schemes.

Following online advice, I made changes to settings on my blog dashboard while I ponder initiating other changes. A few anonymous spam comments still show up daily in my e-mail, but not nearly as many as before the changes. I haven’t disallowed anonymous posting yet, but I turned on comment moderation, and I am researching how to install CAPTCHAS.

CAPTCHA stands for “Completely Automated Public Turing Test to Tell Computers and Humans Apart” and is a term coined by group from Carnegie Mellon University. It’s the function that shows you a scrambled word or phrase to type in, to purchase tickets on Ticketmaster, for instance, and is aimed at cyber robots.  

I’ve found a website, with information about downloading the CAPTCHA function. There are several types of CAPTCHAS, and, as part of the battle plan, I will figure out which will work on my blog site and install it if I can.

So, when you see more and more CAPTCHA prove-you-are-human deals these days, know that it’s not the blogger or the webmaster being too big for their britches. 

It’s the spammers' fault, and they are not backing down. So, we can’t either. I'll likely get comment spam on this post about comment spam. Sigh.

But, the battle continues. 

In the meantime, I monitor my e-mail for those notices from “Anonymous at” saying I have yet another stupid spam comment.  Then, I curse it and delete it. 

And while I’m at it, I look back longingly to the good old days…when spam meant that kind-of-ham-in-a-can that fed the troops and families on budgets and that I recall being REAL and tasty when fried up crispy and placed on white bread with mustard. 

That’s my kind of SPAM, even though I doubt it fits in a low cholesterol diet.

All other spam better look out, and leave my little blog alone.

Song of the day:
Wacko in Waco
by Billy Joe Shaver and Willie Nelson
(Wacko in Waco was written in response to an altercation in a Texas bar that landed the songwriter in court. The jury of his Texas peers found Billy Joe not guilty, of course. Then, he and buddy Willie wrote and sang about it. I'll borrow a line to say to comment spam: you best not mess with me.)

"Anybody in my place
Would have done the same
I don't start fights I finish fights
That's the way I'll always be
I'm wacko from Waco
You best not mess with me."