How I deal with comment and pingback spam.
I start each morning pretty much the same way. I make myself a cup of coffee, make a scrambled egg for my parrot, and then sit down at the kitchen table and check the comments that came into my blog overnight.
The main thing I’m checking for each morning is comment and pingback spam. These are similar but different.
- Comment spam is a comment that exists solely to provide one or more links to another Web site, usually to promote that site or its services, but possibly to just get links to that site to improve Google rankings. Comment spam ads nothing to the site’s value. Sometimes disguised as a guest book entry or general positive comment — for example, “Great blog! I’ll be back!” accompanied by a link or two — it simply isn’t something the average blogger should want on his or her site.
- Pingback spam is a comment that appears as a result of a link on another blog pinging your blog. Although many pingbacks are legitimate (as many comments are legitimate), there appears to be a rise in pingbacks as a result of feed scraping, which I’ve discussed here and here. Pingback spam is usually pretty easy to spot; the software that scapes the feeds isn’t very creative, so the excerpt is usually an exact quote from what’s been scraped. Sometimes, oddly enough, the quote is from the copyright notice that appears at the bottom of every feed item originating from this site. Pingbacks automate the linking of your site to someone elses — in the case of pingback spam, it’s likely to be a splogger.
Lucky me: I get both.
Tools to Fight Comment Spam
Fortunately, I use both Bad Behavior and Spam Karma 2 (many thanks again to Miraz for suggesting both of these), so the spam comments that get through their filters and are actually posted to the site are minimized. On a typical day, I might just have 3 to 5 of them. Compare that to 3,400 potential spam messages stopped by Bad Behavior in the past week and the 51,000 spam messages deleted after posting by Spam Karma in the past year since its installation. Without these two forms of protection, I’d be spending all day cleaning up spam.
Anyone who doesn’t use some kind of spam protection on a blog with open comments is, well, an idiot.
Neither program is very effective against pingback spam, although Spam Karma seems to be catching a few of them these days. Although I’m pretty sure I can set up WordPress to reject pingbacks, I like the idea of getting legitimate links from other blogs. It helps form a community. And it provides a service to my readers. For example, if I wrote an article about something and another blogger quoted my work and added his insight to it, his article might interest my readers. Having a link in my comments right to his related post is a good thing.
So my morning routine consists of checking Spam Karma’s “Approved Comments” and marking the comments that are spam as spam. Then I go into WordPress’s Comments screen (Dashboard > Manage > Comments) and marking pingback spam as spam and deleting it.
Why do it both ways? Well, I’m concerned that if I keep telling Spam Karma that pingback spam is spam, it’ll think all pingbacks are spam. I don’t want it to do that. So I manually delete them. It only takes a minute or two, so it isn’t a big deal. If I had hundreds of these a day, I might do things differently.
The other reason I delete the pingbacks manually is because I want to check each site that’s pinging mine. I collect URLs of splogging sites and submit them periodically to Google. These sites violate Google’s Terms of Service and I’m hoping Google will either cancel their AdSense accounts or remove them from Google’s search indexing (or, preferably, both). So I send the links to Google and Google supposedly looks at them.
I’m working on a project to make creating a DMCA notice easier — almost automated — and would love to hear from anyone working on a project like that.
This morning was quiet. Only three spams to kill: one comment spam and two pingback spams. I’ll get a few more spams during the day and kill them as they arrive; WordPress notifies me via e-mail of all comments and pingbacks as they are received. (I don’t check my e-mail at the breakfast table anymore.)
Do you have a special way to deal with comment or pingback spam? Don’t keep it a secret. Leave a Comment below.