Comment spam gets personal

Filed under: — 3:24 pm

I’ve been dealing with comment spam for years here and on other weblogs (my software blocks about 400 a day) but now I’ve had a chance to deal with another aspect of this plague. A couple of people emailed me yesterday to tell me they’d received weblog comment spam that included URLs pointing to The Quotations Page. Sure enough, I found a couple of hundred of them in my own spam filters today.

The comments are the same “enjoyed your site” gibberish as usual, except that they include URLs of legitimate sites. Along with my quotation site, URLs included those of several other popular quotation sites and a couple of Linux-related sites. I didn’t find a single suspicious URL that could be that of the spammers, so this appears to strictly be an attempt to victimize popular sites.

The spam seems to use anonymous proxies or compromised machines, because it uses a wide variety of IP addresses, mostly in third-world countries. I can only guess their motivations:

  1. To discredit popular sites with “spam” links and attempt to damage their rankings in Google
  2. To get whitelisted by appearing as a legitimate comment (not likely, but maybe the legitimate site URLs will confuse some webmasters)
  3. To pollute spam URL blacklists by getting popular sites into them
  4. To further confuse the whole comment spam issue by making it look like “good” sites engage in it

Number 3 looks like the only thing that has any possibility of working, and in general I doubt this will accomplish anything at all. It’s still very annoying, though—just like running a mailing list, here’s another way that running a popular site means having to deal with people who think you’re spamming them from time to time.

One response to “Comment spam gets personal”

  1. I wrote about it in July – Yahoo spamming my blog? I don’t think they are trying to discredit popular sites. More likely they are trying to get the emails approved as legitimate which they can use later to spam the blog. WordPress and other blogging software which can be configured with first time moderation policy. This is an effective way to get around it.

(c) 2001-2007 Michael Moncur. All rights reserved, but feel free to quote me.
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