• Fighting Blog Spam

    August 24, 2010 by

    We re-launched CollegeRecruiter.com a month ago with an entirely new job search engine, content management system, and blog software. The blog software we’re now using is the open source WordPress and we’ve been very happy with it.

    Perhaps the biggest problem we’ve had to-date with the WordPress installation was the huge amount of blog spam. People, and I hesitate to describe some out there as “people” because they’re such scum, have created programs that post bogus comments to blogs in the hopes that some of those comments will either go live automatically because the blogger foolish lets all comments publish or the comment will go live because the spammer has managed the trick the blogger into thinking that the comment is legitimate. Within days of launching with the WordPress blog, we were receiving hundreds of these spam comments a day with most of them being either a “your blog be very nicest” comment or a longer description of some product or service that the spammer was peddling. The products and services being pitched in either case tended to be porn, illegal pharmaceuticals, or just traffic generating links to site that made their money by serving banner ads.

    So spam became an issue and we were confronted a decision as to how to tackle it. One option commonly employed is the captcha form which requires the user to read squiggly letters and type them into a form correctly. If they do, the web site infers that they’re human and not an automated comment spam generating program so their comment would be automatically approved or at least make it through the filter so the blog owner would be asked to approve it the next time she logged in. Another option is similar but just asks the user to answer a math problem. We took the latter road. It isn’t as secure as we’ll need to frequently change the math problem or at least change it if we see spam comments increasing because spammers could look at the question and program their system to answer the question correctly. Realistically, I think it is like locking your door at night. Burglars can still break in and there really isn’t a foolproof way of preventing that kind of a crime but the vast majority of break-ins are prevented with the use of a simple deadbolt lock and there’s no need to lay mine fields in your front yard or position snipers on the roof. Well, maybe if you’re the President of the United States but not for us common folk.

    So we added the math question and tested it out. So far, so good. No spam comments all day. I’ve got my fingers crossed. Will you do the same?

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