Are Spammers Getting Smarter?

If your blog gets any remotely significant amount of traffic, you’ve probably experienced problems with comment spam. Right now, I have just over 2,100 comments in my spam queue thanks to the Akismet WordPress plugin.

SpamYou might think that with that many comments caught in my spam filter, the software was doing a good job. However, it appears the spammers are getting more creative in their attempts to get around the protection and I’ve noticed more spam comments getting through the filter and into my moderation queue in recent months.

Here are a few of the spam comments (sans links) I’ve found recently:

  • “Aw, this was a really quality post. In theory I’d like to write like this too – taking time and real effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I procrastinate alot and never seem to get something done.”
  • “I normally do not leave comments but I recently started using twitter and I am a little lost. Thanks for clearing some stuff for me. Looking forward to your next post.” (the URL submitted with the comment gave this one away)
  • “@Madeline, you appear to know what you are talking about. Do you care sending me your e-mail? I would like to talk more with you.”
  • “Sometimes it’s really that simple, isn’t it? I feel a little stupid for not thinking of this myself/earlier, though.”
  • “I know this is really boring and you are skipping to the next comment, but I just wanted to throw you a big thanks – you cleared up some things for me!” (the give-away with this one was the same identical comment left multiple times)
  • “Hello, I thought I would post and let you know your web site layout is really messed up on the Firefox browser. Seems to work OK on Internet Explorer however. Anyways keep up the good work.”

A couple of characteristics of some of these examples:

  1. Referring to specific usernames
  2. Mentioning tools which (through pure chance perhaps) relate to the post
  3. Self-deprecating comments
  4. Compliments towards the author

Of course, there’s still a massive volume of generic drug-focused spam comments and gibberish in there too. Still, these comments caught my eye.

Is it me or are spammers getting smarter?

21 Responses toAre Spammers Getting Smarter?

  • Much smarter, Dave. In fact, it often is no longer drop-dead obvious whether a comment is spam. When I doubt, though, I leave the comment out!

  • Well. They aren’t smarter, they just learned how to spell and not cluster the comments with links that Akismet picks up on. They generally use the blog/website form field for their one back link. Google thinks it looks more natural that way as well. It doesn’t matter if you use nofollow or not as nofollow links are a part of a natural link profile.

    The username is crawled from the header settings or from the author name meta data. The tools mentioned use the same kind of engine as ping back spam. The other two are just natural evolutions of the Nigeria letters.

    Good topic for a post as it is amazing how comment spam has evolved through out the years.

  • Definitely. I am seeing a lot more of this type of comment. The dead giveaway as to their spamminess is usually the URL they link to. Often it has something to do with m a l e e n h a n c e m e n t.

    • I agree with Donna. My blog is very targeted to a specific market, therefore it is to tell if the URL link would be from somebody who would be interested in my blog or not.

  • One of the tactics I’ve tried lately is if someone could be a spammer, and their blog post could go either way, is I edit out their blog link, leaving their name and comment intact.

    Then again, my blog commenting policy dictates this. Click my name, click the disclaimer link at the top, and you can read it.

  • Oh Madeline, you old dog!

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