To Spam or Anti-Spam, that is the question...

If there's one type of spam that gets on my nerves more than any other, it is spam that promotes anti-spam tools. Sure, anyone that reads this spam is clearly in need of some protection, but by doing this, the anti-spammer becomes a spammer. And if someone has a spam-problem, can they really trust a spammer to help them? I think not.

Weblog spam clearly follows in the footsteps of email spam. I just discovered a new web-site devoted to the fight against blog-spam: How did I find out? because its author comment-spammed one of my entries to promote his site! Now I've mentioned blog-spam before and a comment in one of those entries would have been appropriate. Instead he chose to simply comment on my most recent article at the time, and have it generically addressed to "Dear blog owner," which means identical plugs were most likely left on many other weblogs as well.

Now I'm all for fighting blogspam, but this is not a good first impression. But hey who knows, maybe it was just a stupid oversight by an overzealous guy eager to get his message out to the world... so I had a look at the site and found the link to his "collection of useful information to fight blogspam" was still under construction - hmmm, why promote your site if there's no content yet? Ok - there are a number of posts, but all of those seem to be copies of posts on the subject done by others. Worse than that, there's no link to the original articles on any of them (though attribution is sometimes present), and I noticed its copy of this sixapart post had all links to actual solutions like MT-blacklist removed! I also doubt if's TOS allows people to copy entire articles like was done with this one, which wasn't even attributed to them.

Also, who exactly is this "David" guy that set this thing up? We know from the about page that he's "Male" and has "Athletic" complexion (I thought complexion related to skin color, but maybe that's just me - English is, after all, not my mother tongue). He was born on "Planet earth", his height is "6'6 to 6'8" (does he like wearing heels or something?), and his occupation is "Unknown" (meaning he's either unemployed, a lawyer, a male gigolo or a spammer). Oh and he is, of course, the self proclaimed "leader of an anti-spam movement" - right.

What I would like to know is whether he had a weblog before he started, whether he experienced blogspam first hand, what motivated him to setup this website, whether he has any original ideas in the fight against spam, etc. But unfortunately there's no word on any of those...

When I checked again later, I noticed that the solutions page now does contain some useful info, including (all the way at the bottom) links to James Seng's Bayesian Anti-Blogspam plugin and my personal favorite, Jay Allen's MT-BlackList, which he states is not released yet - huh? what have I been using for the past month then?

Oh and while I'm on the subject of blog-spam, I've been getting short spam comments (now removed) supposedly from the FDA. What's up with that? I seriously doubt the US government is utilizing blog-spam nowadays so the only thing I can think of is that this is done by a spammer that doesn't like me blocking his spam thru MT-BlackList, and who is now just trying to piss me off... don't these people have anything better to do with their time?

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English isn't your mother tongue? You've had me fooled! :)

Those FDA comments may well be 'markers' used by spammers as a way of finding blogs which don't remove spam. It's pointless posting to blogs where comments either won't appear unless they're approved (and spam is unlikely to fall into that) or where the owner is vigilant enough to get rid of them quickly, so the spammers will post relatively innocent generic comments like that, then, if the comments are still there after a couple of days (by which time Google may well have indexed them), they can search for that blog and know that spamming it will have payback.

If I were you I'd delete them - I've had some bizarre comments on the same line recently and I believe this is what the spammers are doing.

Posted by Neil T. at November 8, 2003 5:24 AM

Spamtastic Hypocrisy
Both Chris and Luke have mentioned a new site called, an anti-spam blog that seems to be spamming other blogs to get attention, even though it's still under construction.

Trackback from Neil's World at November 8, 2003 5:35 AM

Geek Weakly
A lot of fuss is being made about spam (as always). Luke doesn't like it, but then, who does? One of the more popular collection methods used by spammers is accomplished by harvesting email addresses from web pages. So you might not want your email on ...

Trackback from Don't Back Down at November 8, 2003 7:54 AM

Neil: hmmm... markers? but why would they use as a marker and not just use one of their spam-domains?

You're right though - I probably should remove them just in case - I'll do that right now

Posted by Luke Hutteman at November 8, 2003 10:52 AM

Luke-I've been told that what they do when they leave a marker is search blog specific engines (incl. Feedster) for the term they left so they know to come back to that blog's comments and spam them.

Posted by evariste at November 8, 2003 11:11 AM

hmmm... maybe that would explain why - after weeks of very little comment-spam attacks - I got hit 9 times in the last 2 days.

All 9 by the way were blocked by Jay Allen's excellent MT-BlackList plugin, which I cannot recommend highly enough. It Rocks!

Posted by Luke Hutteman at November 8, 2003 11:51 AM

Anti-comment-spam comment spam
I saw this on Luke's site yesterday and felt ill

Trackback from links at November 8, 2003 11:51 AM


Interesting. Terrifying. I'd be a bit surprised if they use Feedster to find the spams they left since so few blogs have comment feeds. We don't index blog comments unless there is a feed of them. More likely they keep a record of where they left a comment and then check for it on a future visit to the same blog.


Posted by scott johnson at November 9, 2003 11:03 AM

I'll suggest that the content, the actual message, be taken into consideration. Do you delate my message if my site sells eg. viaga? I fully agree with you regarding 'spam that promotes anti-spam tools'. The important thing is the content! The message. Not the person's website or email.

Posted by Woody at November 11, 2003 3:37 AM

Woody: You are absolutely right and I will therefore keep your x-rated link alive - this time. However, when comments are left for no other purpose than to get that link (which is the case 99.9% of all v1agra pen1s en1argment etc. links) they will be banned from ever commenting again on this site.

I cannot auto-ban based on content as comment-spam isn't about content - spammers can copy an existing non-spam message and repost it with their commercial url as it's only the link that matters. Any anti-spam solution therefore needs to check for links only.

As long as your temptations-site is only used for genuine comments that add to the discussion I will not ban it. If I find it being used on this site or others in a manner that qualified as comment-spam, it will be added to the blacklist and any previous comment will be wiped.

Posted by Luke Hutteman at November 11, 2003 7:46 PM

Actually upon further reflection, I'm not so sure if I agree anymore... Leaving an email address and/or website URL is supposed to be done to provide extra personal information about the comment-author, not as an advertisement for a commercial site.
If someone leaves a link to a site selling v1agra, this does not give any extra information that adds to the discussion (unless the discussion is about v1agra, but you won't find any of those here).
Leaving a URL is not mandatory - if the only website you have sells v1agra, you're probably better off commenting without one so you don't risk getting banned.

Posted by Luke Hutteman at November 11, 2003 8:49 PM

More on Comment-Spam
Luke Hutteman sent me a recommendation to try Jay Allen's MT-BlackList plugin as a mechanism for combating the recent comment-spam attacks. I think I'll give it a try, before completely throwing in the towel on comments. It would be a shame to let the...

Trackback from - Jorgen Thelin's weblog at November 12, 2003 2:41 AM

"the anti-spammer becomes a spammer."
Very true. I guess if JayAllen started spaming the MT-Blacklist plugin I'd be less likely to use it, so yeah, you're quite right; can you really trust a spammer to help you stop spam? Ultimately, no imho.

Posted by demonsurfer at November 13, 2003 12:15 PM

Regarding email addy harvesting: using iso8859-1 character codes seems to have at least helped in combatting that for me. ie: using
& # 6 4 ; instead of @, and
& # 4 6 ; instead of . seems to work (so far)

Posted by demonsurfer at November 13, 2003 12:23 PM

1. Delete mt-comment.cgi
2. Just don't allow URLS be hyperlink.
3. Use Mt Blacklist.
4. Dissalow "archives" at your robots.txt

Posted by Deep at March 9, 2004 9:36 AM
This discussion has been closed. If you wish to contact me about this post, you can do so by email.