Chad Perrin: SOB

25 January 2007

weblog comment spammers are getting better

Filed under: Cognition,Geek,Metalog — apotheon @ 11:26

Today, in my moderation queue for SOB, I found something I hadn’t seen before. It’s comment spam with the following text:

I always have terrible trouble with comment-related plugins that require me to put some line in the comment loop; I can never seem to find the right spot. Can anyone tell me where I should put the php line in my comments loop? I haven not modified anything much, and I would be very grateful. Thanks!

I wasn’t sure at first it was comment spam, even with the suspicious URL used to linkify the username of the “person” posting it (it said something about trmadol, which is awfully close to tramadol, a common subject of weblog comment spam). Any illusions I may have had that it was a legitimate, non-spammy comment, however, were blown away when I noticed that there were about thirty comments to various SOB entries, all featuring exactly the same text, all pointing at the same URL, each of them supposedly from a different “person” (with a different email address). It’s kinda worrisome that it made me pause for a moment and wonder if it was for real, though.

If even a human is beginning to have trouble sorting it out, I imagine automatic spam filters will have a lot of trouble, too. Thus, in addition to the problem of false positives that has caused me to swear off spam filters for the time being, filters will also increasingly fail to catch “true” positives.

The end result of this will, I suspect, not be that spamming businesses get more money. It will, instead, be that non-spamming web publishers of various sorts will be more short-lived, as they won’t be able to cope with the massive influx of spam unless they have legions of employees dedicated to the task of vetting incoming messages by hand. That, or spam filters will become more strict, and as a result we’ll start seeing about 50% of legitimate communications gobbled up as false positives by the filters.

. . . and yet, my Google PageRank is still higher than that of all these friggin’ spammer sites. I guess it would be too much to ask that they learn from their mistakes, and put themselves out of our misery.

All original content Copyright Chad Perrin: Distributed under the terms of the Open Works License