Here’s what I see at the top of my WordPress dashboard:

At a Glance

1,374 Posts 10,720 Comments
3 Pages 8,013 Approved
38 Categories 69 Pending
1,476 Tags 2,637 Spam

Akismet has protected your site from 266,660 spam comments already, and there are 2,637 comments in your spam queue right now.

Well, a lot of those spam comments have worked their way past Akismet lately, and I’ve had to kill them off manually. Most of them are obvious, but many are not, and seeing whether or not those are real takes time. So, between the tide of spam and the time it takes to sort through the whole mess, a number of legitimate comments haven’t been approved right away. To right that wrong, I just went back through 75 pages of comments and approved about twenty amidst perhaps hundreds of spams. Most of those approved were for old postings. My apologies about that.

The way the system here works, if you’ve already made an approved comment, your future comments are automatically approved. It’s only first-timers that get stuck in the moderation queue with all the spam. I’ll try to be better about looking for comments beyond the first page in the queue listing, when the first page (and the second, third and so on) is mostly spam.

If you make a comment that doesn’t appear, write to me. My email address is my first name at my last name, dot com.

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  1. Darren’s avatar

    I’m experiencing an even higher spam rate. I’m at about 30K legit comments and 9,200 spam comments. I still think that Akismet does a pretty awesome job of spam blocking–few spam comments get through, and few actual comments get erroneously blacklisted.

  2. Mike Warot’s avatar

    That is way better than the less than 1/2 percent legitimate email rates I’m seeing at work. I’m amazed at how corrosive unbridled capitalism is turning out to be here on the internet.

    What kind of things can we do to cut it down?

  3. Doc Searls’s avatar

    Mike, I’m not sure spam is an example of “unbridled capitalism.” How would you bridle it anyway?

    As always, I take the long view. It’s still early. We’ll work it out eventually. Meanwhile Akismet, SpamAssassin and Google’s filters all work pretty well.

    I noticed this morning that the spam levels have dropped again. My guess is that something new at Akismet kicked in.

  4. Mike Warot’s avatar

    Doc, there is an entire criminal ecosystem that uses spam as a lever to gather resources. If there weren’t ways people could get real money out of it, it would still be a novelty, and we wouldn’t be in an arms race. Thats why I said it was unbridled capitalism.

    I was wrong about my math…. it turns out 3.6% of our inbound email is legit… I found this out when my spam filter silently failed today… irritating all of the users I support.

  5. Dale Bradshaw’s avatar

    The way the system here works, if you’ve already made an approved comment, your future comments are automatically approved. It’s only first-timers that get stuck in the moderation queue with all the spam.

    I’ve found that this policy might be part of the problem with extra spam. I’m getting a lot of “Nice post”, “Very Accurate”, “Thanks”, etc. which I’ve been tempted to allow, but I’ve noticed that they don’t seem to have context to the post. My guess is that this is just a bit of social engineering designed to gain the moderation policy.

  6. Dan’s avatar

    I understand your frustration, i managed several wordpress blogs and get many spam comments every day.

    Keep up the great work!

  7. Liz Ditz’s avatar

    For the past X months, 3>X<6, most of my spam comments have resided in the URL links.

    In other words, most of the comments are more or less benign or appropriate to the post commented on, but the URL leads to a site NOT relevant to the comment or otherwise objectionable. For example, lately there's been a swarm of…well, how a male person could use extremities other than the fifth to erm provide a female partner with a good time.

    I use Typepad as my blogging platform. Just recently they've added a feature where you can block not only words in a comment, but in the commenter name and URL.

    I still have to hand-sanitize most comments.

    I'm reluctant to go to approving all comments for a number of reasons.

    I suspect there's some kind of comment-farming going on — Joe or Jill has a contract based on an email address; if you can verify that so many comments per day are being posted; J or J gets a micro-stipend.

  8. Eric Hellman’s avatar

    What I can’t quite figure out is why comment spam continues after rel=nofollow has been implemented. I’ve speculated that it’s search engines like baidu that don’t respect nofollow that are the probem, but something doesn’t add up. Why would spammers bother trying to attack sites that don’t let them through?

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