Sunday, September 11, 2005

Post Flag Day Status

Splog flag day came and went without much hoopla. I don't know how many people have participated and it's effectiveness is not apparent as of yet. Blogger doesn't automatically remove splogs from next button ring so obviously we're not going to see the result for few days. What I have noticed however is it seems like there is more splogs in next button ring. It looks as though spammers have stepped up their spamming activities and figured out Blogger's filtering heuristics. I'm actually bit surprised by this because I thought their primary motivation for creating splog was to be indexed by search engines and they can achive that goal regardless of being in the next button ring. I may have thought this wrong. Maybe they do need to be visible because Google is doing a better job at ignoring the spammer's obvious attempt at PageRank manipulation. Anyway as result of splogs being more visible on next button ring my splog list have grown by about 500 during the three days. It now stands at 1867 as of this writing. Sadly Blogger has deleted only nine splogs on Friday.

Something I have not really thought about came to my attention as of today. About three weeks ago Blogger implemented the word verification or also known as captcha feature to prevent comment spamming on blogs. To me this seems like a pretty good idea for preventing spams since most comment spammers are done by automated programs. Now I see how this has an unintended consequence of preventing blinds from using blogs. Here is a blog by a blind person voicing his opinion about word verification requirement during creation of blog back in April. Obviously things have gotten even worse for this guy since Blogger added comment word verification feature. I see this as a very bad thing. Blind bloggers are now cut off because of spammers. Becaus of this, I have decided to turn off word verification on comments and urge others to do the same. I imagine I will get spammed now but that's ok. I will turn this into my advantage. This blog will serve as a honeypot of sort to collect more information about spammers.


JoeC said...

I have always disliked CAPTCHAs and blocking disabled users is only one of my reasons (though it is at the top of the list).

They are also annoying and sometimes hard to use for regular users. Some CAPTCHAs distort the letters so much that it can be very hard to read.

And they aren't really that good of a solution. Spammers can setup tricks to get users to decode the CAPTCHAs for them. They can be broken pretty consistently by bots given a few tries. And since humans can't always get them in the first try you can't block on failures. See my post on CAPTCHA Decoders.

Even though I don't like them I do have the Word Verification enabled on my blog. I figure it is a better option than only letting team members (just Manni) post to my blog. We frequently upset spammers who occasionally like revenge so I go back and forth from allowing anonymous posting to only team members if I am expecting any revenge spam or vandal attacks.

If Blogger offered a better way to remove spam I would turn it off. Currently each comment must be removed one at a time and then each leaves a visible deleted comment marker.

So far I have not removed any spam on my blog because with rel="nofollow" on the links they aren't hurting anything and I like to show how stupid the idiots are. But I would like the option of easily cleaning my blog from major attacks.

On our wiki we don't have any requirements before you post because it is pretty easy to cleanup and most spam is detected and blocked when it is posted. That is what we use as our honeypot, I have pages specifically for attracting spammers there, but of course just having a wiki is enough to attract many spammers.

On our WikiSpam page we have more info on CAPTCHAs and other methods that could be helpful on blogs too.

JoeC said...

I forgot to comment about you mentioning that spammers appear to be trying to out smart Blogger's anti-spam heuristics. I have no doubt it is happening whether it does them any good or not. Remember most spammers are stupid and stubborn.

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JoeC said...

I think my point about stupid spammers was just proved.

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Blog news.

Google has created a "no follow" tag that blogger.com is using that will stop comment spammers links to get indexed in to Google search engine, Thus should help stop some comment spam from happening.

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