Trackback & Comment Spam

Michelle Malkin & Power Line have been having problems with trackback spam (spammers who post the address of their website in the trackback).

At one time, I also had a problem with trackback spam and comment spam (where spammers post advertisements in the comments section), but for the most part, I’ve managed to take care of the problem.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the spammers generally aren’t trying to get your readers to look at their garbage; they’re trying to improve search engine rankings by getting a link from your blog. So because of that, they go for old posts that you’re less likely to see.

That’s why I’ve found a plugin called MT-Close to be particularly helpful. It allows bloggers using Movable Type to close old comments and trackbacks. Generally, I use the default setting of the plug-in that closes everything more than five days old. In and of itself that almost totally corrected my blog’s spamming problem and since none of those posts were on the front page of RWN anyway, they were unlikely to get further trackbacks or draw more comments from my readers anyway.

The second tool I use — MT-Blacklist — has many more features than MT-Close, but unfortunately — perhaps because of some unique circumstances at RWN — most of them don’t work =D

Theoretically, if you have MT-Blacklist turned on, it will block comment/trackback spam cold in real time and will allow you to go back through all of your posts and remove the spam. However, neither of those features worked correctly on RWN.

When Mt-Blacklist is turned on, it hoses my comments. Of course, that’s probably because my designer made some mods to Movable Type’s comment system. Mt-Blacklist also produced server timeouts when I tried to get it to clean out the comments on my old posts. That may have something to do with the fact that RWN has had 116,162 comments made on posts which I’m sure is an unusually high number.

That being said, if I am hit with a spam attack — let’s say by a spammer promoting a poker site — I can type in the word “poker” and have Mt-Blacklist scan the last few thousand posts and trackbacks. Then, I can delete all the spam with the punch of a keystroke, no muss, no fuss. That’s also a good way to clean up posts by trolls across multiple posts.

Do keep in mind that both of these tools are for Movable Type, but I’m sure you can find similar tools for other types of content management systems that will do the same thing.

So if you’re a blogger, you don’t have to give up on trackbacks and comments because of spammers, you can just get the right tools to deal with them.

*** Update #1 ***: More on this sort of problem from Captain’s Quarters.

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