Comment and Trackback Spam Pollutes Blogs
Blog spammers have found ways to automate inserting their unwanted messages into online conversations, but the few tools available to block them lag woefully behind.
"How far ahead [of us] are the spammers ? Who knows," says Jessica Baumgart, an affiliate with Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet and Society, who gave a presentation on blog spam at the MIT Spam Conference 2007 held in Cambridge
According to Baumgart, who has been involved with Harvard's blogging initiative for seven years and manages tens of blogs on seven different platforms, there are three main ways spammers get their messages into blogs:
There are some tools available to help blog hosts combat this unwanted, unrelated input. Certain blog platforms include administration tools to block certain IP addresses from adding comments, although Baumgart adds spammers tend to use a range of IP addresses so blocking them one-by-one can become unfeasible. There's also the no-follow link option, which is a command that can be embedded in HTML code that tells search engines indexing a blog not to consider a link legitimate, she says.
What would be helpful would be the use of image recognition -- often used on Web sites to verify the visitor is a human and not a computer by asking them to recognize a word embedded in an image and type it in -- but because some of the comment spam is generated by humans they could easily pass this test, Baumgart says.
Blog administrator tools today aren't enough ammunition to fight off the mounting spam problem, leaving blog hosts helpless. One organization that Baumgart didn't want to name has become so inundated with blog spam that it plans to pull the plug on its blog server and start over, losing forever all of the legitimate entries along with the spam. "The best thing to do is to shut down the server and just get rid of it," she says.