Anyone else seeing extra spam, and more sophisticated spam, in the last could of days?

I’ve noticed hundreds of new spam comments here in the last few days…

The only spam detection I have is Akismet, since it’s built in to public WordPress. It works well though. The first few of this “new generation” spam made it to the blog comments, but only because the spammers were stupid enough to forget their links. Normally the comment writer’s name is a link to the spam website, but this time they forgot. But that was two days ago…

Now I’ve seen some more intelligently generated spam. They often reply to existing comments (which is new), or post new comments as usual. But these new spam comments aren’t only generic compliments and gibberish. For example, there was this one:

This was so helpful and easy! Do you have any articles on rehab? (Emphasis mine.)

It’s still a generic compliment, but notice the last word? That’s a keyword relevant to this blog. It was pushed to a post about atheism, not addiction, recovery or drugs. But still… This new generation spam must be using an API specific to the targeted platform, interrogating blogs and generating comments in response to existing comments, presumably so that followers can get notified that their comments have responses. They’re also using keywords relevant to the target blogs, which make the spam look almost like real comments.

And then they fuck it up by being adverts for insurance (in this case), just like the 50 others it pushed around the same time. At least there’s that… They can never avoid detection completely, unless they forget to put their ad link in the comment writer’s name. Do that and the spam becomes useless because it is no longer an advert.

This irks me though. It means that there are programmers out there, people like me but without integrity, writing code that attempts to get around spam detection algorithms. These are people who deserve to be unemployed. Granted, they’re not exactly skilled programmers and their “intelligent” spam is not as intelligent as it could be… I can think of a way of easily circumventing the detection of the spam links, and would find it trivial to generate spam “smart” enough to get past Akismet. But I won’t do that or write how I would do it because I am not an arsehole.

Edit: One day, and over a hundred (detected and removed) spam comments later, and I think I was giving the spam devs too much credit. That one comment with an apparent keyword must have been a fluke. I’m almost disappointed, because it probably wouldn’t be difficult to interrogate blogs and generate content including keywords scraped from their tag clouds. But clearly spam developers aren’t too bright after all. And that’s a good thing.

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About Jerome

I am a senior C# developer in Johannesburg, South Africa. I am also a recovering addict, who spent nearly eight years using methamphetamine. I write on my recovery blog about my lessons learned and sometimes give advice to others who have made similar mistakes, often from my viewpoint as an atheist, and I also write some C# programming articles on my programming blog.
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5 Responses to Anyone else seeing extra spam, and more sophisticated spam, in the last could of days?

  1. bbnewsab says:

    I noticed a huge lot of spam comments on your blog yesterday, Jerome. Very annoying.

    I thought maybe your blog had been kidnapped. Now I understand it hasn’t. *praise the Lard*

    I notice this happen now and then. Not often, perhaps once in a month or so. This phenomenon has beome more frequent now than a year ago.

    But can’t you stop it? Like using a setting that demands the admin to accept all comments or at least the first comment from someone? I think I had (still have?) that kind of setting for my own blog (which is now on a hiatus). I think that’s why I’ve so far never had any spam comments. But do you mean I’ve just been lucky all the time, Jerome?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      Normally nothing gets through. yesterday was the start of these new spam comments, as far as I could tell. They got through because they didn’t contain links. So there was nothing to detect as spam, just nonsense comments without links to whatever they were trying to advertise.

      So ironically, the ones that got to the blog were useless to the spammers anyway. I assume they fixed the problem, so now they’re all getting detected as spam by Akismet, since they link to scam sites in the commenter’s name.

      I’ve deliberately set this blog to approve all comments, because Akismet is normally so reliable. Then if there are any bad comments, I can delete them manually.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. bbnewsab says:

    But please don’t delete all true woo-bullshit comments, Jerome. They are often so amusing to read.

    The comments you received earlier this week were rubbish and gibberish altogether, in a new way, never seen before. They were so utterly stupid that I immediately drew the conclusion that it’s impossible to believe that Albert Einstein must have been resurrected and now is the brain behind that kind of comments.

    And I’m glad that you now confirm to me that I was right by supposing so. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jerome says:

      I try to allow anything that was typed by a human… and I agree that some of them can be quite funny.

      The only exception I’ll make for an actual person is if it’s a nutcase who just won’t shut up repeating the same vapid argument over and over but phrased differently. And even then I prefer to bait them into making even more stupid arguments… 🙂
      Edit: Also hateful ad hominem. If I get that, I’ll probably delete it.

      The one post that’s taken on a life of its own w.r.t. comments is the one about meth voices. It seems to attract the poor “lost souls” who have come up with coping mechanisms for the voices they hear, and the ones who seem to be permanently psychotic. But those comments are important to leave there, as they show just how dangerous meth can be.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Jerome says:

    Since I’m still seeing hundreds of spam comments, and they almost always have the word “insurance” in the comment writer’s name, I’ve blacklisted the word “insurance”. Any comments with that in the body or writer’s name will go straight to trash, rather than the spam folder.

    Edit: Aaaand it made no difference. 97 comments in the spam queue this morning. Not sure how it works though… Maybe the blacklist is only involved after the comment gets through Akismet to the blog – and there was one of those on Saturday before I added the blacklist. So I’ll leave it as is and see what happens.

    Like

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