Blogs attract spam. According to Google Analytics, Inky Stories has a very small audience. Yet, it gets an inordinate amount of spam; at least 3-10 per day! These are hidden from you by my WordPress moderation settings (more on that below).
At first I thought these attacks were done manually. Modern spam technology, however, is known as botnet (robo-spam, spamdexing, spambots). Hackers use it to surf the web, posting dynamically-generated comments to wikis, blogs and forums. These unwanted posts have links to the spammer’s web sites — usually with no relevant comment — to artificially increase the site’s search engine ranking. A lot of my spam says “cool page”, “nice website”, or keywords of the spammed link.
Since spam is an unavoidable part of electronic publishing, much like physical junk mail, why fight it? Starting this week, I’m publishing the best spams, then replying to them as if they were written by actual humans! Here’s how to play with spam safely and responsibly:
- Block comments before they appear. WordPress has this functionality as a checked option in Discussion Settings. With this option checked on, you get an email notification with the comment’s information (content, sender, email, IP address and URLs) BEFORE it goes live. You then have the option of approving, editing, deleting or labeling as spam. You can do this on the web or with the mighty WordPress iOS app.
- Edit the spam. Remove all web site and email links. As mentioned above, these links help unscrupulous web marketers to artificially increase the site’s search engine ranking. Deleting these links negates any benefit to the spammer.
- Replace the spammer’s email address with one of your own. I created “spam @ inkystories.com” for this sole purpose. For added style, I designed & registerd a Gravatar icon for this fake address.
- Approve the edited spam. That’s it. Your sanitized spam comment is no a danger. If desired, you can now reply to it as you would a legitimate blog comment.
The end result, shown in this example, is a stylized presentation of spam-and-response. My replies will occasionally be snarky, but most will contain relevant information unaddressed by traditional means. I’m happy with the results so far. See the great lengths I go through to to keep you safe and entertained? Now go out there and have fun!
— Dave M!, learning to love them Spambots.