One of the most annoying tasks I have to deal with as a weblogger is the policing of comment spam, the advertisements for health insurance, porn, Cialis, and such that make their way onto my archived entries. Lately I’ve been combating it with a utility called MT-Blacklist. This program uses a blacklist of banned URLs to prevent most spam from ever appearing. When some does sneak through, the blacklist is easy to update and use to clean the archives retroactively.
Spammers try to get around this in various ways: changing their IP addresses, varying the URLs to which they link, and disguising their comments to appear legitimate. These tactics are generally easy to deal with. Yesterday, though, a spammer tried a clever wrinkle I’ve never seen before. Among the advertising URLs he included a link to my own website. Not reading closely, I added the links en masse to my blacklist, unwittingly adding www.jacobgrier.com to my own list of banned sites! Fortunately, I caught the addition just before running a scan and delete of my archives. Had I not, I would have deleted all of my own comments from recent entries.
Perhaps this spammer is using this tactic purely out of spite for bloggers using MT-Blacklist to thwart his efforts. Perhaps it’s intended to further complicate the policing process, discouraging bloggers from even trying to keep up. The approach isn’t hard to defeat in its current form, but later incarnations could include links to other common domains. Links to Amazon.com or CNN.com could seed users’ blacklists with false positives, leading it to detect legitimate comments. If the tactic becomes widespread we may soon need an MT-Whitelist, too, to protect them from deletion. In the meantime, MT-Blacklist users should take an extra glance at the URLs they ban.
For a few choice words directed to this particular spammer, click here.