The New Blog Spam

I recently wrote about the increase in manually generated blog spam I'm seeing, and the limitations of tools such as CAPTCHA for stopping it. Let me back up a bit to talk about what that spam looks like. I've got some examples to show you, for your amusement and irritation.

Blog spam is a comment posted to advertise a URL. (As opposed to a comment posted to advance the discussion.) Most blog spam is generated by bots. Bot-generated blog spam usually is obvious. When I see a comment with propecia, viagra, or Texas hold-em in the title, I know what to do with it.

As I noted in that previous post, I've found that a simple "math puzzle" ("what's 4 + 5?") is sufficient to stop the bot spam on my blog. (That may change as bots get more sophisticated.)

Manual blog spam, on the other hand, is generated not by a bot, but by a person who reads the article, composes a response, embeds the spam URL, and—in my case—solves the math puzzle. The manual blog spam I see usually attempts to be responsive to the article, albeit in a trivial way. For instance, here is a recent comment spammed to a blog entry I wrote about a Drupal module:

Nice Feature
Submitted by PUA on Sat, 06-Sep-2008 - 10:34 am.

Wow amazing module. It's exactly what I was looking for. Now I need to get back to work on my web.

That post had a link to a Russian language portal, which I've mercifully elided.

The worst part about manual spam is that it takes time to review and classify. Bot spam usually is obvious. With manual blog spam, I have to read the text and follow the link to properly infer its purpose.

You probably won't be surprised if I tell you that blog spammers have chutzpah. Here is one of the more astonishing spam comments I've received:

Submitted by flooring on Sun, 31-Aug-2008 - 8:42 pm.

Btw, there isnt anyway to stop spam in any walk of life. We use to get tons of phone call every day selling there retarded products, then email spam wasted our time and now blogger are facing problem with comment spam.

This spam comment was linked to a URL for a "Basement Flooring Guide" web site.

That spam was bad, but it's not the worst. The worst would be this one:

You are a braver person than I!
Submitted by Houston Criminal Lawyer on Sat, 14-Jun-2008 - 12:11 pm.

I still need to do the same thing that you have done here, but have not had the time or desire to attempt the project. I foresee an afternoon of complete frustration and likely some foul language. My last setup is about 5 years old. I actually need to wire in the PC and create a whole "control area" for my AV system.

What makes this so bad is that it was linked to a web site for an honest-to-goodness legal practice. For goodness sake, nothing screams "I'm a total sleazebucket" than advertising by spam, so why would a professional do it? Plus, this creates an opportunity to take lawyer jokes to a whole new level.

(By the way, the question was rhetorical. I suspect the answer is that the lawyer didn't do it, but instead failed to do their due diligence and hired a sleazy web promotion service.)

As I noted in my entry the other day, human-generated blog spam has natural limits that bot-generated blog spam doesn't have, so I only get so much of it. Maybe a dozen a week. I can process that manually, but it is irritating.