Over the past several months Mercwear has become a victim of a fast growing blog epidemic: Comment Spam. We all think â€œOh it wont happen to meâ€? or â€œA little spam never hurt anyone!â€? well, itâ€™s time that you open your eyes â€“ comment spam is a headache causing, time wasting problem that is here to stay.
For those of you that are not familiar with comment spam let me take a moment to fill you in:
Comment spam is not a traditional type of spam such as the unsolicited emails that flood your inbox each day, itâ€™s a far worse and even more devious type of spam. The way that comment spam works is the spammer visits your blog and sees that comments are open to the general public, this allows them to add your site to an application that will continually bombard your site with ads for a variety of different things (mine are mainly links to online poker sites asking people to play).
At first thought you probably think that these links are there to solicit readers of the blog to visit these sites, while that may be PART of the reasoning behind comment spam it is NOT the main goal. Comment spam is popular for one reason â€“ Google ranking. How you ask? Well Google ranks web sites from 1 to 10 based mainly on how many links to the site being ranked are found on OTHER sites around the internet. This means that if a comment spammer sets their spam program to go out and create 50,000 fake comments on 50,000 different blogs containing a link to a site, the next time those blogs get crawled by the Google bot (the program that Google wrote to search internet sites so Google users can find them when they search from Google.com) the site that the spammer was peddling will gain a higher ranking. Higher site rankings in Google mean that more people will find and visit the site resulting in more $$$ for the site owner.
There are a number of ways that people have come up with to combat comment spam, I for one have been using a system that analyzes each comment that is submitted and searches it for key words (like online poker) and if the comment contains the words it is placed in a queue for me to approve or delete before it is displayed on the site. This solution will keep the comments off the blog and does noting to help the spammers however there were two main problems:
1) If someone spams the blog with a comment that does not contain the key words that will cause it to be quarantined before being posted it is automatically posted to the site.
2) There is a lot of work involved in clearing out the queued up comments, on average I get about 20 fake posts a day from spammers and I for one do not like having to login and delete 140 fake comments each week!
So what I have done is created a custom solution for my comment spam problem, when you post a comment you will be prompted to type in a string of text that is displayed as an image, if you type it in correctly (and the comment does not contain any of the key words that spammers use) then it is posted. On the same token if you fail to type in the text correctly then the comment is not posted. This method is simple and adds an element of human interaction to the comment posting process (it is VERY hard for a computer to interpret the text of these type of images).
Please feel free to try out my system by posting a comment to this article, any feedback you have is appriciated.