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Comment spammers

It seems quite a few blogs got hit by a massive porn spam in the last few days. There is a good summary and links at Winds of Change

We were hit pretty solidly by it at Samizdata. Brian Micklethwaite reports he deleted a large number of them.

I’ve an idea for a technical solution if anyone at MT is listening. It would be to have a settable time threshold on comments. Commenting on an article would be closed after a specified number of days. All the Lolita posts I saw went to articles that were 3 months old. This tells me the spammers want to bolster their search engine ratings by getting lots of links in lots of different places. Otherwise we’d have seen the posts go to new articles. You don’t get many eyeballs on 3 month old news archives.

It would not be terribly onerous to remove spam from the current twenty or so ‘active’ articles. We are already are moderating those.

There is another more satisfying solution though. Given the number of libertarian and fellow travelers blogging about the world, someone should find the address of the spammers and pay a visit. A Glock has a certain, je ne c’est quoi, especially when displayed at close range to one’s nose.

It makes the words “Please stop” seem an eminently reasonable request.

Dale ponders where to place the next round
Photo: Dale Amon, all rights reserved

24 comments to Comment spammers

  • S. Weasel

    A Glock has a certain, je ne c’est quoi, especially when displayed at close range to one’s nose.

    I it is not what? I am not it is what? What it is that I am not?

    Huh. No wonder I never liked Glocks.

  • Sometimes people find your post from months ago via Google, and then leave a comment. Nobody reads the comment on the actual post, but the author gets it e-mailed to him, and then a dialogue can occur between the author and the commenter. It doesn’t happen very often, but it is a small reason in favour of leaving comments on on old articles.

    On the other hand, my personal blog uses a comments system that does turn comments off after a few months and it isn’t the end of the world.

  • Over at the Adam Smith Institute blog, we’ve been suffering a bit as well. However, we’re helped a bit by running a secret patented comment moderation system, thanks to the guys at the Big Blog Company.

  • Indeed, the comment moderation hack could (almost) be the perfect solution.

    “Almost” because it requires a manual validation of each and every comment.
    Granted, it’s not a full time job, but it’s quite a time consuming and repetitive task when there’s a large base of commenters (all spam incidents put aside.)

    Dale’s Glock moderation hack, although still manual, sounds more efficient in a way and certainly less repetitive (Dale looks pretty much like the “One Shot, One Kill” type of moderator).

    And I’ve been thinking: it could work with the trolls and blogroaches as well.

  • fnyser

    Glock? Joo don’t need no steenking Glock!
    S&W 500!

    I wasn’t sure what this gun was for until now – a spam free planet.

  • If you’re running PHP + MySQL I can brew up a quick fix for MT if you want to.

    A “real” integrated solution would take a bit more time, and since I’m not running MT myself anymore…

    But checking for how old the entries are is a breeze.

    It would take a bit more work to restrict how quickly a new comment could be posted (i.e. set a “one comment / three minutes” restriction on commenting).

    But like I said, unless you get the folks at MT to listen – or find someone who has the will and power to integrate the fix to MT – I’m all up for helping out free of charge.

  • Front4uk

    Hey, no disrespect to Glocks please! It’s one of the finest handguns I have ever used… very elegant, orignal weapon. And it is sooo *damn” reliable.

    Too bad in the UK only the criminal class can own it…

  • Guy Herbert

    Since many of the best-established spammers, er… shall we say, have interesting antecedents, then you might find pointing shiny metal things in their general direction–never mind noses–fraught with practical difficulties.

  • Jacob

    What are you Dale ? Some kind of unilateralist? An American ? A cowboy? Can’t you just rely on the UN to solve your spam problem, like all civilized EU members?

  • Lackey

    While your Glock comment is obviously not serious, it does beg the question: is private, lethal, violent action an acceptable Libertarian response to spamming of this nature?

    The spammers violated your rules for posting comments. They also violated common courtesy. They are clearly at fault. Their actions have cost you time and effort you are unlikely to recover through legal action.

    What next? Hunt down the spammers and threaten them with violence (dang, that is a pleasant fantasy) hoping they do not respond in kind? Or hire a cyber ronin to toast their systems and the ISP’s they road in on? Can you recommend any other Libertarian solutions?

    If a few spammers got spattered across their keyboards the spamming problem might go away, but not many people have the stomach for such actions. Even you might have trouble putting a .45 slug through a porn spammers heart. I know I would. But then, my site has never been porn spammed.

  • Pham Nuwen


    The use of force, or even the treat of the use of force is a direct violation of the non-aggression principle that most Libertarians covet. The use of force is only justified in defending oneself, or others from immediate harm. Having said that Libertarians often “wish” what they would never actually do.

    In my personal opinion the real solution would be to have a tort system that didn’t suck. Then we could freely bill the spammers for the use of services. After all web & email servers cost money, as does your network connection. It might be a small cost ($1) but imagine how long it would take for them to fix up their act if they got a million bills for a dollar.

    Spammers are thieves, they steal services of others to “get rich quick”, worse they closet collectivists and have managed to convince the average person that it is perfectly ok to encroach on others, and that an individual should have to opt out, rather than opt in. It should not be a matter of signing up to “do not call”,”do not mail”, and “do not spam” etc… type lists. It really should be a matter of signing up to lists to get the advertising you want.

    If that model isn’t profitable for them, well tough. I won’t be shedding any tears.

  • Some comment spam blocking systems are already available, and more are in development. I list three of them in this post.

  • A Glock? I thought tar and feathers was traditional.

  • Fortunately so far, I’ve not had too many attacks on my sports blog.

    I must admit I am bemused by this and I’m waiting for some some anti-spam tools to become available, but I haven’t implemented the existing ones because I haven’t been hit (yet.) and also I’m a bit off colour.

    I must admit to being a bit old fashioned, and preferring tar and feathers too.

  • I would have thought the best thing to bar would be not just the bastards’ ip addresses, which they can easily change, but the sites they are trying to link to. One of the main objects of the exercise from their point of view is to push the google rankings of their crap up by appearing to be “linked to” from sites that themselves have respectable google rankings.

    It would be easy to automatically check any links in the comments against a blacklist of sites. Easier still, but harsher for legitimate commenters, to ban links in comments completely.

    I read recently that one of the top spammers in the US is a former neo-nazi. He probably knows more nasty rough people than you guys do.

  • Jay Allen has just released a Movable Type blacklist plugin. The reviews are pretty good.

  • Charles Copeland


    All this stuff about spamming…

    Are libertarians not aware that spamming will shortly become illegal throughout the European Union once Directive 2002/58/EC of 12 July 2002 concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector (Directive on privacy and electronic communications) becomes legally binding?

    Pursuant to Article 13 of the Directive, “the use […] of electronic mail for the purposes of direct marketing may only be allowed in respect of subscribers who have given their prior consent.”

    This Directive must be transposed into the domestic legal order of the Member States by 31 October 2003. JUST ANOTHER FORTNIGHT TO GO!!

    Say thanks to the European Union, everybody.

  • According to Making Light, the pr0n site is now down (not that I’m going to check while I’m at work)

    I assume I’m not the only person that did a traceroute on the domain and informed their upstream hosting company.

  • Rob

    That EU directive isn’t going to achieve anything though, is it, given that most spam comes from outside Europe? Do politicians _really_ think they can solve all problems with legislation? Seems to me they’re just trying to _look_ like they’re Doing Something About It(tm). They don’t fool me.

  • Charles Copeland

    You may well be right, Rob — I’m not an expert in this particular field. Normally EU legislation is adopted in response to pressure from lobbies and interest groups — perhaps in this case there was a ‘good’ lobby of businesspeople involved, if such a lobby can possibly exist. I haven’t checked out the pre-history of the legal instrument.

    But on the whole I’m a natural born futilitarian like yourself. Even when the EU serves up something that looks good on the surface, it’s always safer to smell a rat on principle.

  • “Dale ponders where to place the next round”

    At that distance I recommend center of mass.

    Sorry – I couldn’t resist. 🙂

  • Scott Cattanach

    A real gun.

  • R.C. Dean

    Why, Scott, we agree again (assuming that is .45). If I recall, this is the third time.

    Although, to tell the truth, I find the single-stack low-capacity .45s deemed acceptable by the Clinton administration a little undersupplied with ammo. I personally use a high-capacity Para-Ordnance. Nothing says “Say hello to my leetle friend” like 15 rounds of .45 ACP in a convenient fist-sized package.

  • Scott Cattanach

    My “leetle friend” is a 6 inch stainless Ruger GP100

    It only holds 6, but is a wonderful attention-getter.