The Ashes

Technology, Science and other news
April 17, 2009

The Curse of Spam

Posted by : admin
Filed under : General

Anyone who runs a website with submitted content, like Opinion Forum, suffers from the curse of spam.  We’re only about five months old, and it took the comment spammers a while to find us.  Now we’re under daily attack.  So far, we’ve been hit by almost exactly as many spam comments as we’ve received valid comments.  Soon the spam comments will be far ahead of the real ones.

If there’s a hell with an especially hot corner, I hope all the comment spammers end up there!

Opinion Forum is protected in two very effective ways.

First, the website program has a feature for banned words and phrases.  That protects us against comments with obscene and pornographic content.  When a comment is received with banned language in it, it’s held for moderation.  Then it can be edited or deleted, as appropriate.

Second, protection against spam comments is provided by the Akismet plugin program.  It runs from a central service that checks all comments before they are published on the website.  The program learns what is and isn’t spam.  For example, if it mistakenly identifies a valid comment as spam, all you have to do is mark the comment as valid, and comments from that source won’t be identified as spam in the future.

Akismet lists comments it has identified as spam for you to review.  It only takes a quick look and the click of one button to consign them all to oblivion.  Most are readily identifiable as spam because of appearance and content.  Some of the worst can be more than a full page of random words masking dozens and dozens of links to either commercial or pornographic websites.

After months of use, Akismet has identified only one valid comment as spam, and one especially crafty, normal-looking spam comment slipped through.  That’s a phenomenal success rate.

Akismet can be used with any website that accepts submitted content.

By the way, this isn’t a commercial plug.  Akismet is free for non-commercial use.

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