On Comment Spam

I’d really begun to feel a bit left out: all the cool kids were busily discussing their comment spam problems and solutions thereto, while I remained, with one pathetic exception, completely unhit.

I’m thus bizarrely happy to report that in the last 24 hours, I’ve been hit six times by Lolita, who is desperate to tell me that I have a Nice Site!

Given the plethora of her compliments, and the utter failure of her attempts to link to a pretty hardcore pr0n site, I’m doing a little editing, but just leaving them be. A record, if you will, of my entry into the hip crowd.

Of course, if things get more plethoric, or if they come with more successful linkage, they’ll probably get deleted.

[UPDATE, 10.11.03; 8:32 am: Got hit seven more times by Lolita overnight, with more objectionable content. Comments have been deleted and IP banned. We’ll see…]

[UPDATE2, 10.12.03; 10:56 am: Sixteen more today, with slight IP variations. This is getting tiresome. Looking forward to Monday…]

16 thoughts on “On Comment Spam

  1. Yeah. I was all excited because the comments themselves had linked images (and I’m alarmed to think about what the images were of), but neither the image nor the link it harbored worked. But I’d forgotten about the name-link. Ah, well.

    This of course blows the theory I’d been harboring about comment spam: namely, that only sites with rolls of “recent comments” in the sidebar got spammed (because usually the entries that get hit are old, and the comments could otherwise go unnoticed, but for such appearance in the front page sidebar). But alas, the spammers are apparently more equal-opportunity than I thought.

  2. I managed to avoid the Lolita spammer so far, but when I read your entry, I’d understood that you were redirecting their links to another site (which I think could be kind of funny). For example, link “Lolita” to a Nabakov site or to the Guerilla Girls. Randy Rathbun made that suggestion on my blog, and I think it’s pretty effective.

  3. How do these comment spam robots work, anyway? Do they search websites looking for the word “comments” in link-form? Is it too simple a solution to just change your templates to say “Responses” or something like that, instead of “Comments”?

    Or, instead of having a security code to enter, just force your users to interpret a poem before letting them reach the Comments screen. Those evil robots will be stumped in no time in the face of some good ol’ fashioned human ambiguity…

    (look what your class has done to me — eep)

  4. Honestly, part of me wishes I knew how they work, and part of me is deeply relieved that I don’t. But I do very much like the idea of requiring an interpretive exercise before granting commenting privileges. Dean Allen over at Textism has used a related set-up (called Knowspam) to eliminate his e-mail spam — and though that system doesn’t require readerly skills, I wonder if something similar might be set up around comments…

  5. KF,

    Tried sending a message via email to ;

    it bounced back (user unknown).

    The message:


    I hope all is going well with the preparations for the new year and next

    term. The photo gallery connected to the blog looks superb. I look forward

    to seeing it grow over the course of 2005

    I left a comment today for your Sontag entry.

    One thing puzzled me. It seems that the following URLs are on one of the

    blacklists that Planned Obsolescence uses:

    http:// www. chass. utoronto.ca /~lachance

    http:// www. chass. utoronto.ca /~lachance/jardin

    Has someone been bombing your blog with links to the sites I maintain? Or

    is there some other reason for the blacklisting?

    This is not a high priority question. I can still leave comments with a

    URL linked to the signature name. I am just curious.


    Sontag anecdote: I once came across an item in a bookseller’s catalogue:

    Sontag’s presentation copy of Derrida’s book on Husserl: papers uncut.


    Good luck with the move to the condo. And enjoy unpacking your library.


  6. That’s completely bizarre, Francois. I’ll check it out — you’re certainly not *meant* to be on my blacklist… Thanks for letting me know about this — I’ll let you know what I figure out.

  7. Alright — I think I figured it out. The blacklist has an entry that prevents URLs containing the string “ass” from commenting. The good news — how much do I love EE? — is that I also have a whitelist, to which I’ve added “chass,” so all should now be well.

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