I Need Your Help With Spam

Spam Sucks

Comment spam has never really been a problem on this site thanks to Askismet. However, I’ve recently become a victim of Trackback/Pingback spam. It looks like bots are creating automated blogs which either scrape the entire block of content or in my case, an excerpt. Sometimes, the bot states that I’m the author of the post. Other times, the bot gets the author incorrect but still displays my content.

When I visit the culprits site, the posts are usually posted in the UNCATEGORIZED category by either ADMIN or UNCATEGORIZED. At first, I was fooled a couple of times thinking these were legitimate links but I’m starting to recognize these sites as being spammers. The joys of maintaining a blog right?

How have you tackled this problem of linkback/trackback url spam? I was told that I should install a plugin called Bad Behavior but the site was down.

I have also noticed that I am receiving spam comments on at least two specific posts within my blog. The first is on the subject of joining a forum pertaining to your niche, the second deals with my take on guest blogging. I have no idea why these two posts are attracting so much attention from spam bots but they are.

I’m open to discussion on how to combat my apparent spam problems. Any and all suggestions are welcomed. 

10 thoughts on “I Need Your Help With Spam

  1. No spam on your website until I found it and started adding comments! :P

    I actually noticed what you mention in this post for the first time a week ago, when I had a trackback which was a copy of a post from my website.

    I thought at first it was a legitimate link, but something didn’t ad up. In retrospect it was obviously just spam.

    Why on earth do they use trackbacks for this purpose anyway? I don’t quite get it.

    Mine was posted by Admin.

  2. Jeffro,

    Think of it as a part of getting popular :) Profy started to get such trackback spam as soon as we got over 100 subscribers. Usually the splogs (the blogs that are created automatically using RSS feeds of other blogs) do not have any contacts or anything. First time I tried to fight him by contacting the HSP but it never helped. Now we get some 10 new splogs copying our posts every week, then they disappear and the next 10 arrive. So I decided to leave them alone because contacting the abuse departments of HSPs every time we see a new splogger could take at least half my time :)

    My way of dealing with them is pretty simple: every time such a trackback is approved by Akismet as valid, I mark it as spam and the next time it can catch it. Besides, other bloggers benefit from this because Akismet will be taught better. Of course, it does not prevent sploggers for getting a buck or two using our content but unfortunately all the other measures are too time-consuming.

    What I am really surprised by is that such links are counted as legitimate on Technorati (it means that the splogs are listed on Technorati and they even get some authority from it). What I would want to do is having some button to report a blog as spam on Technorati even by losing a number of incoming links – I do not want links that actually add no value to Profy or to our readers.

  3. @Mike Nice to see I’m not the only one experiencing these troubles. After doing some research, I found out that it’s pretty hard to combat against this form of content scraping. The only good this is that these automatic blogs are only posting excerpts and not the entire post. I believe they use trackbacks since they are not only a link, but they usually get past spam filters since they appear legit.

    @Svet Thank you for your informative post. I sort of figured that it was only a matter of time before I had to deal with these issues head on. Every blogger does sooner or later. I just thought it was weird that these bots are actually targeting a few of my pages and they are creating these AUTO blogs that are posting excerpts of my content. As you said, it’s not worth it to waste time on these scum bags. They are like weeds, they just keep coming back.

    You also raise an excellent point about Technorati and how it counts these splog postings and links. This is a fundamental flaw in the way Technorati works and thus, that is why people treat Technorati stats with a grain or two of salt because they can be so easily gamed.

  4. Further to my previous post, I subsequently updated and enabled Akismet, which automatically picked up the culprits as spam.

    I must admit, I’m rather impressed at that plugin.

    Lucky for me though, I’m not popular enough to worry about getting spammed too much. :)

  5. This is exactly why I add “By StrangeWork.com” at the beginning of all of my posts now. People are going to steal your content, there’s no way around that. I figure this way if they steal my content anyone who sees it will know that I was the original author. It’s not 100%, but better than nothing.

  6. @Mike Hmmm I haven’t noticed any updates to Akismet. Maybe I should check.

    @Brad The good news is, so far they are actually linking to my post and they are only posting excerpts and not the entire post. It damn near looks like a legitimate post but its not.

  7. @Jeffro I had an older version of WordPress (2.0), which wasn’t updated for a while. Last night when I decided to upgrade to 2.3 (I’m slack), I also updated Akismet. Admitedly, previously I didn’t have it enabled though.

    @Brad That’s a great idea, putting your web address at the start of a post. Maybe even include it as a link. Is there no other way of doing this?

    Maybe some sort of encryption. :) Where you have to hover with a virtual magnifying glass over your posts to read them. This is, the text is gibberish, but can be read if you hover above it.

    Hmmm, this is a far fetched idea, but there might be potential for a more practical method.

  8. Started getting that annoying crap as soon as I started taking my blogging seriously.

    So far, I’ve had about 70 spam pingbacks like you have seen. None of them ever get the name right for me though. Askimet usually does a great job of catching most of it though.

  9. @James Hey James, glad you could stop by again. Akistmet has done a wonderful job for me so far. And like you, the bots usually never get my name right however, there have been a few comments in my blog that made me think for a minute or two as I couldn’t tell if it was spam or not.

    For you James and the rest of the audience, what are some of your methods to ensure that the message marked as spam is indeed a spam message?

  10. Hi all,

    I have the same situation with my site, spammer keep coming from same IP address, and it’s true that Akismet can get rid most of them.

    My concern is will it hurt our site rank ? Since we get backlink from bad neighborhood..

    Thanks

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