Comment Extravaganza 2008!

Three years ago I got tired of only publicly mocking blog spam and took the relatively extreme preventative measure of shutting off comments on all entries that were more than a month old. I even wrote a script called No Comment that would help you to shut off the comments on all your old posts if you so desired. By my logic at the time, if you arrived at my entry more than a month after I wrote it, whatever you had to say was useless to me, and the probability that you were a spam bot was simply too high.

Well, I’m feeling risky in 2008.

I’ve decided that for at least a few days, and perhaps weeks or months depending on the outcome of my experiment, I’m going to open all comments back up again. I’ll be very interested to see what kind of non-spam comments I get, if any, and where they’re located. In the mean time, expect that blocked-spam counter at the bottom of the page to rocket past 25,000 in short order.

9 Comments

  1. Posted January 20, 2008 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    I found that adding the little test where people have to type ‘monkey’ before posting a comment has virtually eliminated spam comments. I’ve had maybe a couple since adding that feature.

    I think if people are still finding your old posts they might still want to comment, so why not let them? I have a few posts that regularly get comments. I’ve long since stopped caring about those conversations, but it lets other folks keep on talking about it.

  2. Posted January 21, 2008 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Like Kevin, I’ve discovered adding a little extra to the comment submission process helps a ton. In my case rather than the person typing something, it’s a hidden field on the form with a dynamic value generated on page load. The value is good for submitting a comment for certain time period after generation, currently on the order of hours. It’s been so effective I’ve since removed some other checks (which had issues with false positives). I don’t think the dynamic and limited-time functions are actually necessary at this point, but it hopefully it keeps it effective longer.

  3. Posted January 21, 2008 at 2:18 pm | Permalink

    But how do I get to entries over a month old on your blog? Where are the archives hidden?

  4. Posted January 21, 2008 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, yeah, longstanding issue, etc. Sheesh! For those of you desperate to read my old entries (yay!), here’s an ugly cheat that will do the trick.

  5. jeff
    Posted January 22, 2008 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Wow, that cheat is ugly. Before today I’ve never run into an issue with comments closing but now after being away from a computer for a significant amount of time I’ve found that I can’t comment on some of your baby’s mama’s posts. She must employ your methods on a shortened timetable.

    Why is there such a delay in comment spammers finding posts?

  6. Posted January 22, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    I think the delay has something to do with search engine indexing. Some people I know have set their sites to not be indexed primarily for the purpose of stopping comment spam (which used to be effective).

    One of my first comment spam prevention techniques was setting the traditional comment submission link destinations being in non-indexed areas while generating the forms with javascript for most browsers (to make it easier to comment). It actually worked for a long time, but once the site is found and targetted, it doesn’t seem to help.

    Given the recent talk of Google (and likely others to follow) now indexing dynamic sites within minutes to hours rather than days, I’m actually curious if the lag time will go away.

  7. Posted January 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    For the record, we’re up to 24,547 blocked comments now. I’m surprised they haven’t come in faster, but it’s definitely coming in faster than it was a few weeks ago.

    Honestly, I think one of the reasons that I don’t implement a clever system like the ones above is that I love seeing spammers try and fail. It just delights me so much. Now to make a system by which they fail without my doing any work, but in which I can still automatically count and display their failure publicly!

  8. jeff
    Posted January 31, 2008 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I don’t know if I would declare outright victory yet. Your comment RSS feed is still a bit… colorful.

  9. Posted February 2, 2008 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    @jeff: I completely agree. I didn’t know anyone but me used the comment feed. It can get a little wild & wooly in there. Usually I’m on top of it but for the last couple days I’ve been away from the computer and not able to keep it clean.

    The other thing that sucks is that sometimes feed caches will cache it before I can clean it up, so even if I catch the issue 10 minutes after it happened, some feed cacher (or feed reader, I guess) has already gotten the junk in there and it can’t be removed easily. That’s the one thing that might make me decide to do something like the recommendations above.

    But first I’ve gotta upgrade to MovableType 4.