Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Blogger word verification stops spambots

Blogger word verification stops spambots

[NOTE: This is an identical post to "Blogger fights comment spam" at Vaspers the Grate.]

I've been a fiercely aggressive enemy of spam: email, trackback, guestbook, RSS feed, and blog comment spam.

To fight this foe, I have posted many articles exposing them, and unveiling the tactics spammers use.

I visit other business and marketing blogs, and when I've seen comment spam, I've demanded, via comments and emails to the blog authors, that they immediately delete it. I've raised a hundred kinds of hell with other bloggers for being lazy, inept, or ignorant about comment spam.

I've fully explained the many issues, preventive measures, and hazards of blog comment spam. I've described what it generally looks like and why a blog visitor should NEVER click on any links displayed in spam comments.

Fortunately, my blogs have only rarely, and for short periods of time, been targeted by spammers. Once, I turned off comments on all my blogs, for a month or two. I hated doing this, but I was spending too much time deleting the spam comments.

My Current Battle
Against Comment Spam

Right now, my blogs are under attack again by comment spammers, apparently more than one, judging by the types of spam.

Since this Vaspers the Grate blog is a "blogology and web usability" blog, it's even more critical for me to monitor and combat comment spam. I have to set a good example for other bloggers.

This time, I'm not turning off comments. Instead, I'm diligently monitoring my blogs, via Comment Notifications at my Gmail inbox.

Every time any comment appears on my blogs, an email notification is sent to my Gmail inbox. I can instantly tell if a comment is legitimate, or irrelevant, detrimental comment spam. All I have to do to go right to the spam comment is click on the blog title link at the bottom of the email notification.

I check my Gmail inbox periodically every day, and more so now that comment spam has been showing up in my blogs.

Blogger's New
Anti-Spam Tool

Now Blogger has introduced another Anti-Comment Spam tool: "word verification" (or "captcha").

You've probably seen this at various blogs. Dave Taylor uses it, for example, at his Intuitive Life Business Blog. Before you publish your comment, you have to visually recognize and type in a word or number appearing in a box. The box usually has a background that slightly obscures the letters or numbers, and the letters and numbers may be warped slightly.

A "word verification" or "captcha" device is designed to block automated programs ("spambots") that prowl around the blogosphere, seeking blogs to deposit comment spam in. Theoretically, only sighted human beings will be able to read and type in the contents of the verification box.

Blogger also uses this verification device in the final stage of Blog Creation, thus preventing "blogbots", automated blog creation programs, from creating multiple blogs as "link farms" that exist exclusively to drive traffic to other sites.

Suggested Comment Settings
for Blogger/Blog*Spot Blogs

Go to Dashboard.

Then your blog name [e.g., Vaspers the Grate].

Then Settings.

Then Comments.

Once at settings for comments, what I suggest you configure is displayed in dark red type.


Comments: Show

Who can comment?: Anyone

Default for posts: New Posts Have Comments

Comments Timestamp Format:
Tuesday August 23, 2005 8:53:35 AM

Show comments in a popup window?: No

Show word verification for comments?: Yes

Show profile image on comments?: Yes

Comment notification address (we email you at this address when someone leaves a comment on your blog): [type in the email address you want to use for this notification]

Save Settings: [click-select this]

Republish: [click-select this]

Republish Entire Blog: [click-select this]

Your blog published successfully.
View Blog: [click-select this]

You're done. That was easy, wasn't it? Do this for all your blogs. Then you can relax a little, with a bit less to worry about.

You have now implemented two powerful tools to help combat, or prevent, comment spammers from using your blog as a free bulletin board to post their crap on.

Links in comment spam go to porn sites, con artist product sales sites, or sites that will attach such malware as viruses, Trojans, or spyware on your computer or network. Comment spam is also an attempt to boost site ranking in link popularity lists or in search engine results.

NOTE: You may still get comment spam on your blogs, if a human spammer hand codes it in the comment form. The "word verification" only prevents automated programs from posting spam on your blog.

Remember these two tools to fight comment spam:

(1) "Show word verification for comments"

(2) "Comment notification address"

If you unfortunately do need to turn off comments on your blog for a period of time, simply go to "Who can comment?" and click-select "No one may post comments on this blog" or however it's worded.

You may also turn off comments on individual posts by click-selecting, at the bottom of the post entry form, right below "For keyboard shortcuts..." and just above "Save as Draft"/ "Publish Post":

Allow New Comments on This Post: No

Email me or Post a Comment
if you have any further questions...

...or any other suggestions or
insights to share.

[signed] Steven Streight aka Vaspers the Grate



Chris Ritke said...

Just found this:


The captcha decoders are coming!

Andy Merrett said...

Of course they are, which is why we should invest more in non-discriminatory comment verification systems.


Let's stop inaccessible CAPTCHAs

Anti-Captcha meme

(Fortunately I was able to read 'ykwwryxx' on this occasion)

steven edward streight said...

Chris: I tried to post a comment on your blog last night, late, but it was taking a long time to download (I'm on dial up, soon to switch to broadband), so I lost patience, was dog tired.

What is going on with Fancy World? Uta seems to have slowed down posting on her wonderful cartoon blog.

Andy: good friend, nice to see you here again.

Both: thank you so very much for your insight and for enriching my blog with your content via comments.

I will of course look into what you both have said. I want to be more expert on this topic. There are so many topics to stay current with, it's overwhelming sometimes.

But most bloggers don't even know what "captcha" means, nor what the acronym stands for.

Chris Ritke said...

Uta's in Germany right now - she's really busy but she'll get back to posting soon... I sure am bugging her about it as much as I can because I also love her work!

As for my blog - well, I'm at the mercy of Blogger - so what can I say.

And - I didn't know what captcha stands for until about a week ago, although I've been seeing them all over the place for some time now... some are really a pain because they're hard to read end then you end up having to try over and over again.

The blogger ones are ok to read so they don't really bother me.