I recently e mailed Ben Trott about some serious comment abuse on my blog. He replied that he and his staff have had some general discussions about comment abuse and spam.
I’ve been reading posts on MT blogs which indicate that many MT bloggers have a major problem with comment spam. Seems those same jolly fellows who’ve brought you penis enlargement tools via e mail have now gravitated to our precious blog world. Their main purpose is to leave their URL in the Comment field URL. I presume that if they do this on hundreds or thousands of blogs, search engine robots will find that many more hyperlinks to them on the web and raise their search ranking thereby finding them more shills to take advantage of on the internet.
Jay Allen has responded to this assault by developing what some MTers say is a magnificent MT Blacklist plug-in. Brenna tells me that it solely uses URL addresses in order to search for & ban spam comments (thereby creating a spammers blacklist). I’m not directly familiar with the plug-in. Can it also use IP addresses & names as well? The weakness of this system as I understand it is that it uses a type of keyword search (like a spam filter) to try to detect spam as it comes in. But it’s probably not foolproof. Nevertheless, I think this is an intriguing option as well. Anyone have any ideas if it could be implemented for TP blogs?
My impression is that most TPers don’t feel that comment abuse is a big issue for them. I also think that many of us don’t realize what our MT blogging cousins are facing. The reason why we should sit up and take notice is that MT is being attacked because it has attained sufficient share of the blog market to make it an attractive target for spammers. Soon, Typepad will also attain that threshold and the attacks will hit us as well. It’s only a matter of time…
I have experienced comment abuse which I call blog stalking since someone, who also enlisted an accomplice, who had a grudge against me constantly visited my site for about two weeks and left nasty comments. After banning five IP addresses between the two of them, either they’re exhausted or I’ve exhausted all their IP addresses. While the abuse might’ve ended, I can’t tell you how stressful and unnerving it is to be under such an attack.
Lest you think this is an entirely anomalous situation, Jay Allen pointed me to Ruby’s A Creep Loves My Blog on the MT User Forum in which she talks about her unwelcome visitor at Ruby’s Rants & Randomness:
I have a very serious problem poster, who puts hate and stupidity on my blog almost every day. I banned his IP addresses repeatedly, that’s obviously not doing much but egging him on.
I have been removing most of his posts, but today he went too far and impersonated another poster.
Today, Maddy posted to the same thread about comment abuse on her blog, This Chick:
In the past couple of months I have had some idiot leaving very sexually explicit and otherwise inappropriate and abusive comments on my site.
Unfortunately, until you experience such abuse firsthand on your own blog you can never truly understand the depths of anger and frustration such assaults make you feel.
For those who’d like to sample some of the debate and discussion going on over at MT blogs regarding this issue, I suggest a few links:
The Man with a Plan to End Comment Spam
MT Blacklist/ Comment Spam Clearinghouse
What is Ccomment Spam?
Ben currently seems to favor a Comment Registration approach which would allow bloggers to make every commenter on their site register BEFORE they could comment. He’s also told me that the issue of comment abuse will not be addressed for some time.
Personally, while I acknowledge that this method will stop comment abuse cold, the solution leaves me cold because it puts up an almost insurmountable barrier to the free & easy exchange of ideas in one’s blog via commenting. How many of us yearn to register yet another time in order to access a website? I wonder whether Ben might favor this because once someone registers, they may comment freely & no one (neither commenter, blog author, nor TP staff need do anything further to monitor the situation).
I’ve read another suggestion advocating Comment Moderation, which enables the blog owner to view & approve any comment BEFORE publication in their blog. While I favor this option for my own blog, admittedly it would not be a good solution for a popular blog which receives numberous comments. Such a blog author would have to perform constant housekeeping duties. If he or she didn’t regularly approve comments, then they would back up in the queue and not be published at the blog site.
I’ve posted to the Typepad UserGroup on this issue and received a few responses worth mentioning here. Random says:
I am in favor of a completely minimalist approach (probably because I have not expereinced this problem yet…). I guess I could simply delete offending comments, or ignore them, or ban them and hope that they do not get persistent, only going to a registration only approach when I absolutely have to.
I think that if I were to require registration, most of my comments may disappear.
For a medium to small-sized blog I think the “manual delete” method usually works the best. “Comment approving” systems would be a welcome alternative, however, especially if you have repeat offenders who’s sole goal is to cause trouble.
When you really think about it, however, rarely is there more than 1 or 2 people causing trouble at any one time. Even for a large blog it wouldn’t be too much trouble to find and delete these posts. It seems like having to approve all comments would be more trouble than it’s worth.
I don’t think there’s ever a place for comment registration, I know that as soon as I see any kind of registration requirement on a site I quickly close the window
And finally, Anandm lays out his views:
Registration is a very bad option indeed.. I would say till this becomes a big problem, most of us can do with just deleting the odd offending comment.
Even if it is a big problem, I think, moderation is a much better option. Even if you have more than 50 comments a day, it is much easier to moderate as most comments can be approved (with an approve all checkbox, this is just a click).
Let us know which option you like or dislike. If you have your own suggestions, let us know as well.
Rep. Mark B. Cohen says
Spam is obviously an imprecise
and subjective term. I recom-
mend dialogue. Let offensive
posters know why they are not
wanted. Blacklist only as a
last resort. And remember
that comments are optional:the
site owner can always delete
them short term or long term if
they become too burdensome.