Spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam . . .

Experimental time exposure shot of the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The long exposure has left light trails, with the Well just visible in the background.

Experimental time exposure shot of the Old Well at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The long exposure has left light trails, with the Well just visible in the background.

Recently there has been a significant increase in comment spam here at A View to Hugh.  Most of the time you as a reader never see it, because a  filter catches the spam before it has a chance to go live.  Occasionally, however, irrelevant comments slip past the spam filter.  This blog is not moderated so that a lively discussion can take place when people are so moved.  Moderating all comments just slows down spontaneity, especially during non-work hours.  Non-moderated blogs, however, are vulnerable to comment spam making it live.  On the flip side, the spam filter can trap legitimate comments.  When that happens I can easily approve them.

The past few months have seen an amazing surge of comment spam—a dozen or so spam comment per day were making it live, and where once there were a few hundred captured spams there are as many as 2,000 a day.  It used to be reasonable to spend about 20 minutes a day to go through the spam trap, looking for legitimate comments that had been accidentally captured, and making them live.  This is no longer the case.  The receipt of blog comment spam now exceeds one per minute on average.  From late Friday to Monday afternoon, for example, the spam filter trapped 7,700+ spam comments!

A couple weeks ago I quietly added a new Comment Policy page, announcing a few changes to help combat this problem. Spam continued to accelerate through the remainder of the month, however, necessitating a stricter policy effective today, 1 October 2014.  Here are the details:

  • Your first comment at A View to Hugh will not appear immediately upon hitting the submit button; it will, instead, be sent to a “Pending” file for approval.  After I approve your first comment, your subsequent submissions will post immediately.  The setting in the anti-spam software applies this rule uniformly, even to those who have commented prior to the implementation of this policy.
  • Comments with more than one link are immediately marked as spam by the anti-spam software.
  • All comments trapped by the spam filter will be deleted without review—meaning that I will no longer review comments in the spam trap to look for legitimate comments inappropriately marked as spam.  As a precaution, you may wish to save your comment as a text file on your own computer before submitting it to the blog.  That way, if your comment does not appear within a day (or after a weekend) you can then copy and paste your comment and resubmit.

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