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?

Dave Fleet
Managing Director and Head of Global Digital Crisis at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.