Kurt McKee

lessons learned in production


Hey there! This article was written in 2004.

It might not have aged well for any number of reasons, so keep that in mind when reading (or clicking outgoing links!).

Stupid spammers

Posted 28 November 2004

Well the comment spammers got smarter. Before, this idiot just used the same email address for every single spam. I just had to block the email address, and that took care of it. And I thought that blacklisting didn't work anymore! Unfortunately, somebody far smarter than mister lilo@suddenenlightenment.us realized that the way to evade my simplistic filter is to make up random email addresses. Shock

So now I'm trying to block comments based on IP address. I thought "Hey, maybe just use 'poker' as a keyword to block!" but that ultimately will fail. Keyword filtering is NOT a long-term solution. Period. I hear people say "Yeah, I block my email using filters like 'enlargement' and 'mortgage'. I get only 10 to 15 spams each week, now!" All the person needs at that point is some suspender straps to place their thumbs under and some hay to chew on while they grin at their brilliant solution.

It's amazing how many IP addresses these people go through, so I may have a very, very long list by Christmas. I'm aware that by blocking IP addresses, I may potentially block someone that shares the same ISP as the spammer, but I'm not concerned about it: my understanding is that my plugin (Tarpit) will only block comments from the listed IP addresses, not actual access to the site. But if you can't post comments, and it's because you've gotten the same IP address as a previous spammer on my site, there's some things you can do to help yourself, and me:

  1. Don't become a zombie host. Spammers love to infect computers to do their dirty work, and Internet Explorer and email attachments are the easiest entry point. It's a known fact that spammers collaborate with virus-writers to take control of your computer. Use Firefox to help prevent your unfortunate and unwitting dissemination of spam. Get anti-virus software. Run Ad-Aware. Use Linux. Seriously, this is a no-brainer, folks -- don't leave the door wide open.

  2. Write to your ISP and demand harsher measures against spammers, such as cancelation of service. Or public flogging, followed by excommunication. Or put them to work at your friendly neighborhood gulag. They can't send spam, spim, or comment spam...if they have no access!