My Planned Comment Spam Solution

By Deane Barker on March 31, 2006

Well, comment spam has finally done me in.

A big new wave launched about a week ago, and we’re getting spammed about once every 2 minutes, 24 hours a day. I have to manually delete over 100 comment spams a day in three or four “shifts” at the MT interface.

For every one that gets on the site, nine or ten are caught, but the bastards still manage to get dozens on the site throughout the day, where they sit for hours. The fact that these idiots are getting some value, however small, is just pissing me off.

I’m going to install HMPassphrase over the weekend. This is the Movable Type version of WP Gatekeeper, which I posted about last year after encountering it on Joseph Scott’s site. It asks you a simple question, to which you must provide the correct answer before it will accept your comment (“What color is the sky?”, “What color is an orange?”, “What shape is a wheel?”, etc.)

I hate to do this, but I’m just sick of it.

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  1. I’m not sure why you’re upset about requiring some additional verification from commenters. I think it’s a perfectly legimate way to handle the spam problem, by ensuring that you’ve got a real person on the other end. In this day and age, anyone who is likely to comment on a post has to understand that spam is a real problem, and know that this is a completely resonable solution to it.

  2. How hard would it be to try out Akismet? For a long while on my sites I used Spam Killer and similar filtering solutions on my server-side, but they’d tend to “age” and eventually I’d get a stream of spams that were under the system’s radar. I gave up and started “outsourcing” my comment spam detection to Akismet for free. [By the way: Matt Mullenweg (of wordpress fame) is in charge of the project.]

  3. I had to resort to captchas too, all spammers must hang. I hated to do it, because I prefer to keep my blog open and there are accessibility issues with using captchas, but it was either that or disable commenting entirely.

    It would be nice if you added a “remember me” checkbox while you were at it.

  4. For the record, I installed it…but it didn’t work. It evidently conflicts with some other plugin I have running.

    I really need to disabled all my plugins and start over, I think. I don’t think 90% of them are in use.

    I’ll debug it more later in the week.

  5. As long as no human spammer is specifically targeting Gadgetopia, you can avoid a plug-in and just change the code to insert, and check for, one question manually. It will still block any automated attempts to post comments. Of course, you may be popular enough to warrant personal attention, in which case a random option out of a large variety will indeed offer more protection.

    And, BTW, the sample questions on your post are really awful. “What color is an orange” is good, but the sky color can be blue, black, grey, dark blue, cyan, etc… And a wheel can be round, circle, wheel-shaped… These things should be extremely self-evident and easy for a human to answer.

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