Tuesday, April 12, 2011

No comment

Anyone who does a blog, podcast, YouTube video, etc., has had to contend with spam comments. Blogger is pretty good about catching them—in fact, I can’t remember the last time I had to delete one. Actually, I hope that means it’s real spam, not misidentified legitimate comments; so far no one’s complained.

My podcast site, however, is different: It’s a self-hosted WordPress blog and I need my own strategy. I use the Akismet plug-in, and since installing it, it’s caught 1,838 spam comments without letting a single one through. Those spam comments are put into a queue for me to check, and I do. So far, it hasn’t false-identified a single legitimate comment (unless in my haste I missed one, though I doubt it). Still, Akismet modestly claims only a 99.76% accuracy rate.

The comments in that spam queue are often, um, interesting. They never have even a remote connection to my site or anything on it, but lately some pretend to have identified some problem with the site, RSS feed, etc., which is at least different. Most, however, offer some banal or sycophantic praise, like:
“This is such a great resource that you are providing and you give it away for free. I love seeing websites that understand the value of providing a quality resource for free. It?s [sic] the old what goes around comes around routine.”
And then there are the truly off-the-wall ones, like this:

“The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt [sic] disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd [sic] have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent [sic] too busy looking for attention.”
At first, I naturally thought the person had actually listened to the episode (I’m joking). However, it was posted to one of my anniversary episodes on which I never whine; wine, maybe, but not whine. Seriously, any comment posted to an episode that’s more than a month old—let alone one or more years old—is almost certain to be spam.

But even if it wasn’t, that sucker would so be deleted… (joking, I don’t delete comments just because they’re negative; see my About page for more about how I treat comments, if you’re really interested).

Spam is a fact of Internet life, but with an effective strategy to capture them before they’re posted, they can sometimes at least have some entertainment value.


Roger Owen Green said...

I once blogged about spam. Some of it is SO complimentary, I WANT to let it through.
BTW, I do find false spam in my Akismet. And it's usually from the ABC Wednesday people. It's a woman from New Zealand, and others from south Asia who are clearly not spam, talking specifically about the post, that I have to unspam.

Mark from Slap said...

Thank you for providing this helpful resource. It's so great to being have such an important tool!!! ;)

Arthur Schenck said...

Roger: To be honest, I think that part of the reason that I don't have false-positives is that I just don't get that many comments on my sites. Maybe it makes a difference that first time commenters have to be approved? But how RUDE for your Akisment to challenge comments from New Zealand!

Mark: OMG! I never realised it was you all this time! Very clever masking your IP address to make it look as if it came from Russia… ;-)