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by Franki

Following our recent article on comment spamming of blogs, Movable type, a popular web log (Blog) has prepared a patch to stop the massive comment spamming problems that their users are having. The problem is getting so bad that web servers are being taken down by the load.

Comment spammers use automated scripts to submit comments to blogs containing a link back to the spammers site. Their hope is that having hundreds of blogs linking back to their site will improve their ranking with Google and the other search engines. Those comment spamming scripts are capable of submitting hundreds of comments every hour.

Their are many different ways of stopping comment spam, in our case we chose image authorization, a method whereby an image with random text appears on the comment screen, no comment can be submitted unless the text in the image is typed into a text field, because the automated comment script can’t read the text on the image, they can’t submit a comment. Other methods of stopping spamming is to limit the number of comments submitted in a pre-set time frame, or limit the number of links in a comment, or moderating comments based on a list of spam keywords, but nothing is effective as the image authorization hack. The problem with image authorization is that it requires a program on the web server to generate the random images, such programs are imagemagick or GD, but not every server has one of those programs installed, and therefore the blog programmers will not make image authorization a necessity.

The real answer to the problem, is for Google and the other search engines to modify their indexing software to detect comment spam and de-list any site using it from their index completely. Comment spam would be pretty easy to detect, if you have a blog with 20 comments all containing links to the same web site, and the comments are all roughly the same size, and other blogs on other domains have similar comments with the same links, you can be fairly sure that you are looking at a comment spam. If comment spamming got your site de-listed at Google, you can bet the practise would stop almost overnight. Until then, we’ll just have to use reactive tools to try and limit the problem.

INSERT! In related news, Microsofts new blogging service is also feeling the pinch with their 1200 users reporting a deluge of spam commenting and you can read about that here.

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