Sunday, October 14, 2012

Blog stuff

Awhile back, in response to reader requests, I turned off the buggy word verification for comments to posts. I did so after I was satisfied that Blogger’s spam filters were robust enough to catch spam. To be extra safe, I changed the settings so that comments on older posts would be moderated.

That’s when things got really annoying.

It turned out that that spam filter still worked really well—not a single spam comment got through. However, I also started getting emails telling me to moderate a comment that was, in fact, spam. Toward the end of this past week, the number of emails suddenly skyrocketed (again…), increasing to four times the level of earlier in the same week.

Things didn’t stop there.

I noticed that a post from earlier this week zoomed up to the top of the “most popular” list, and pretty much all of that traffic was coming from spam attacks. After some 1150 hits, I turned off comments on that post in an attempt to deflect the spam comments. In the time it took me to do that, about another 100 hits came in.

The reason I care about that is that it messes with the ability of people to find things on my blog through legitimate searches: A spike in a particular post can sometimes raise an algorithmic flag for search engines, lowering the legitimate ranking for posts.

This is actually similar to the reason for fighting spam comments. Such “comments” always have links in an effort to increase the likelihood that their spam site will end up in searches; any blogger who permits those links could be blacklisted as a site that exists only as a place for listing such links.

It would be nice if Blogger allowed blog owners to remove links in comments as Wordpress does, but without that ability, the only other option is to block the comment—even when it actually is relevant to the topic of the post, which most spam comments are not (in fact, they’re usually totally irrelevant to the post).

So, as an experiment, I’m turning off email notifications, among other changes. This means that comments to older posts may take even longer to appear because to know about them being in the queue will require me to actually look for them. Still, comments to old posts are really rare, so I doubt this will affect anyone.

If this doesn’t fix the email problem, I have other things to try, and the last resort is to turn word verification back on. I’m a long way from having to do that, though.

I doubt that any of this will fix the problem of spammers hitting one post hundreds of times, though. Turning off comments to such posts seems to slow the hit rate, at least, but doesn’t stop it. However, if I can’t fix this particular problem, I may end up removing “Most Popular Posts” listing since it’s not real—posts listed as being most popular are usually not being read by real people, but hit by spammers. I think that’s a shame, because I liked the idea of such a listing. Oh, well.

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