I’m not sure if this means that the spammers win or that I win, but I’ve made a couple decisions about how I’m going to fight comment spam. I’m changing a few policies for a couple reasons.
First, my auto-block count has reached 13,000 blocks. There’s no question that MT-Blacklist has saved me hours of work, and saved my blog from falling into some horrible, decrepit state where my readers would be foced to wade neck-deep through ads for refinanced morgages, cheap medication, and porn just to read each others’ comments. I would sooner shut down my blog than allow that to happen.
The second reason is due to something I never anticipated until the first time it happened. My apologies for the lengthy explanation, but I figure some of you may find this interesting. Even though I am successfully blocking thousands of attempts to spam my blog and the sub-blogs on this site, I cannot keep the spammers’ scripts from using the CPU power of my server. Each time a spammer’s script attempts a posting, the server has to think for a second before it can tell them that they cannot post their URLs, because it has to check the URL they’re trying to post against my blacklist, and determine if it should allow them to make their post. And when the spammer attempts to post 750 comments (or over 3000 comments as happened recently) my server becomes quite busy just blocking them.
The guys who run my server don’t like the fact that my site can take CPU power away from the other sites hosted on their machine, so they have to either shut down comments (which they did the first time), or install some kind of software governor that slows down the CPU usage for just my site, so that the other sites on the server aren’t inconvenienced by the spam attacks I get. That’s what they’ve done for the most recent attacks. So now, when an attack happens, no one can read my site until the CPU usage goes back down to normal levels. Visitors even see a page that says something like, “Resource limit exceeded. Will refresh in a few seconds…”. Some of you may have seen that recently. That’s what you see when I’m in the middle of a Spam Storm.
Obviously I don’t like the idea that spammers can temporarily deny my readers access to my content, so I’ve decided to close the comments for any entry that has been up for a few months. But as usual, I want to fight this war on a larger scale. Closing comments on old entries by going through each entry and clicking “Close” and “Save” can take hours of work (at least the first time through). I want to help people do that by providing a free PHP script (at least for Movable Type 2.x users, but possibly 3.x users as well) that can automatically close old posts whenever it is run. So any time you want to close the comments on any posts that are older than X days, you just run the script, tell it how many days to leave open, and it does the rest for you in about 1 second. Probably less than 1 second, but you get the idea. A quick rebuild of your blog will finish up the work.
I’d like to use this blog post to gauge interest in such a script. Assuming it was easy to use, would you find such a thing useful, or not? If not, why not?