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Sneaky Spam

  1. For the past few months I've been getting a certain type of spam, and now it seems to be increasing to once or twice a day. I call it sneaky because the posters--there are more than one--disguise them as comments, but what they say is very general, like "You know so much about this topic", not particular to my content. When I click their URL, sure enough, they're selling something. Today the plot thickened: I've gotten 3 of these on the same post, an article 2 years old about the Golden Gate Bridge. Since they're totally separate commenters and businesses, I wonder if the post is popping up somewhere, somehow, as a convenient target? Anyone have any ideas what I can do about this other than keep deleting them?

    The blog I need help with is marcys.wordpress.com.

  2. How is that different from regular spam? Sounds like perfectly ordinary spam to me.

    In my experience, if one post keeps getting spam comments it's because one of the comments you approved on that post is spam. Spam attracts spam.

  3. It seems to me most spam says up front they are selling something, but these talk instead about my blog, or pretend they're doing that. Anyhow, it doesn't matter. If they're ordinary spam why doesn't Askimet catch them? And I don't think I unwittingly allowed spam, in fact I know I didn't.

  4. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    For the last few months, I've received an incredible amount of spam comments of this kind. Something has gone wrong with Akismet, it used to catch almost everything. I keep marking them as spam instead of just deleting, but Akismet doesn't learn.

  5. If you look around the forum you can find a few dozen people complaining that Akismet is letting spam through over the past few months. Two weeks ago they tightened it up substantially, and many WP.com bloggers could no longer comment. It's a constant balancing act, but you're right, they SHOULD catch obvious spam using stock phrases. Like the user "reconditioned dishwashers" who left a comment on my blog a few minutes ago. Akismet let him through.

  6. Each of us has an "Akismet" stats tab in our site's Dashboard. Have you looked at it recently? Do you see an increase in either Missed Positives or False Positives?

  7. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    Thanks for your replies. Interesting. Yes, Missed spam is increasing dramatically, 5 in March, 22 in April, 25 in May, 16 in June, already 23 in July (and 4 today alone, and it's lunchtime in Sweden). Spam detected has doubled and tripled in the same period, but the rise in Missed spam is not proportionate, since before March it was 0 or 1 per month. Something has gone wrong with Akismet.

  8. Very interesting. It's good to know I am not imagining things.

  9. It's not sneaky spam. It's typical spam that I get all the time.

    Spammers are always trying to find new ways to get their links on our blogs. I do not use the comment blacklist because I am well aware that blocking by IP address is useless. IP addresses have not been unique for a decade. ISPs save money by placing hundreds of us in the same IP block. So using the blacklist for IPs means we may block legitimate commenters. Moreover, spammers can get a new IP in seconds flat and some have dynamic ie. ever changing IPs.

    May advice is stop wasting you time fretting over a single spammer.
    Akismet is a very accurate learning engine. The vast and overwhelming majority of all so-called information on the internet is spam. Over 80% of all so-called comments submitted to .wordpress.com blogs every day are spam. Spam comes in waves. There are human beings who get paid to post spam. There are robotic programs that post spam.

    The worst of all spam containing malware and viruses is not sent to us. It's removed as it could bring down many blogs if opened.

    On the spam that Akismet catches it takes only seconds to click "empty spam" and you don't even have to click "empty spam" if you don't want to. Akismet will maintain comments it has caught for 15 days from the time they were received, and then it will delete the comment automatically.

    If you get spam that slips by Akismet then mark it as spam (do not delete it) and over time Akismet will learn it's spam.

    There is no such thing as eliminating all spam but Akismet works very well. For more information please take the time to read "5 things every blogger should know about spam" on this page Akismet: How it works http://akismet.com/how/

  10. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    Sneaky or not, it's spam, and it's increasing dramatically. It's not a matter of a single spammer. Nor is the problem that of emptying spam that Akismet has caught. And I mark everything as spam instead of just deleting it. Before March, there was at the most one (1) uncaught spam comment per month. Since March, there are on average more than 20, and this month already 28. This is a very radical and sudden change. In view of this, I am not inclined to agree that Akismet works very well. At the very least, it does not seem to work anywhere near as well as before March.

  11. @janolofbengtsson - Read tt's above reply to the end. Spammers are constantly changing their tactics to get past the spam filters.

    If you find the spam in the Spam folder, then Akismet is doing its job. If you find them in the comments waiting for your approval and you have marked them as spam, then you are helping Akismet learn its job.

    This is not a technical issue for the support forums. It would, however, be a great topic for a blog post.

  12. It's quite true that Akismet lately has been letting in things it previously would have stopped. Usernames like Dishswashersales.com and the like have been getting through.

  13. I agree with raincoaster. I don't get that much spam (not popular enough!) but I have noticed that it seems to have what appear to be legitimate sounding email addresses these days rather than the spammy sounding ones they mainly had in the past.

    It is like Akismet was targeting the email addresses so now the spammers have switched them to something that is easier to slip by the checks. The user names are becoming the spammy thing now.

  14. Spammers are constantly changing their tactics to get past the spam filters.

    If you find the spam in the Spam folder, then Akismet is doing its job. If you find them in the comments waiting for your approval and you have marked them as spam, then you are helping Akismet learn its job.

  15. I find them pre-approved, on my blog. I have had to send to spam comments from: Rebelmouse.com, Online Forms, Ticketsnetwork.com, research paper, and many others. Akismet would not have let those through a year ago.

  16. @rain - Report it here http://akismet.com/contact/

    Pre-approved, meaning that you don't moderate your comments?

    Every WordPress.com site owner, even those that don't like or want to moderate their comments, can set their comment moderation so that a person has to have at least one previously approved comment before a new comment is automatically posted.

    If the spammers have changed tactics, site owners need to do so as well.

  17. Also, if the Akismet contact form is not working for whatever reason: support@akismet.com

  18. I don't moderate comments, since I hate comment moderation, myself. I have never moderated comments except once a few years ago for a few hours. And this has never happened before. This is new.

    If I've marked them as Spam, what extra good does notifying Akismet staff do? Surely they're aware of the recent complaints.

  19. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    justjennifer: I of course read timethief's reply to the end. What do you mean? I responded to everything of relevance. It is crystal clear from my comments that the problem is not the spam folder, i.e. the spam Akismet catches, even if that increases too, but the spam Akismet does not catch, the spam among the comments awaiting my approval. I wrote: "I mark everything as spam instead of just deleting it." You now say I am thereby helping Akismet learn its job. Whether or not this is true, the remark is beside the point, since, as I must repeat, Akismet did its job more than 20 (twenty) times better before March. The increase in uncaught spam is simply calamitous. Why is this not a technical issue for the support forums?

  20. @janolofbengtsson
    Yes there is an increase in spam. Yes spam comes in waves.
    No this is not technical issue for the support forums where every thread is available to every spammer on the internet, who wishes to read the threads as see exactly how well their latest tactics are working or not. Akismet issues are dealt with by Akismet Staff.
    http://akismet.com/contact/

    If you get spam that slips by Akismet then mark it as spam (do not delete it) and over time Akismet will learn it's spam.

    I'm not saying this in an unkind way but the reality is that if you had a self hosted WordPrerss.com blog you would be dealing with thousands of spams every day. What we deal with here at WordPress.com is diddly squat in comparison.

  21. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    timethief:

    I don't think this is an authentic discussion among WordPress members. It is obvious that you and justjennifer simply post slightly modified standard formulations that you have used elsewhere in response to the same complaints, without reading with proper attention the individual comments you respond to.

    Had you done so, it would have been impossible for you to repeat once again the sentence "If you get spam that slips by Akismet then mark it as spam (do not delete it)" etc.

    Nor could you have written "Yes spam comes in waves". I have never said anything about spam coming in waves. Spam very definitely does not come in waves. I might say spam now comes in one single huge wave, 20-30 per month, compared to the still water of one, or none at all, before March. By saying that spam comes in waves, in the plural, you seek to give the impression that the current problem is a normal occurrence. It is not. There has never ever been another wave before, not even the smallest.

    And that I "would be dealing with thousands of spams every day" if I had a self-hosted blog and what we deal with here is "diddly squat in comparison" is another wholly irrelevant remark. We are talking exclusively about the sudden, grotesque rise in uncaught spam here and nowhere else; the situation elsewhere is beside the point.

    You say this is not an issue for the support forums since "every thread is available to every spammer on the internet, who wishes to read the threads and see exactly how well their latest tactics are working or not". I cannot see how this is an argument against discussing the issue here. What spammers will learn by reading this discussion is that their tactics don't work since I never publish their comments/links.

    In the ways I have pointed to, you seek to avoid even acknowledging the nature and reality of the problem I and others are talking about. For some reason, you are out to play down the problem, mechanically using standard phrases, without taking it seriously. My experience is that discussions in WP forums are normally very good ones, with helpful and knowledgeable members, and equally helpful and knowledgeable WP "happiness engineers". But the discussion of this very important topic is, unfortunately, an exception.

    The problem should certainly be brought up directly with Akismet too, but the fact that something seems to have gone wrong with Akismet is a matter of general interest and concern to WP and the WP community. It should therefore be discussed precisely here.

  22. Why would you assume that a technical support thread would be "an authentic discussion among WordPress members"? That is what blogs are for. These threads are not for discussion purposes at all. They are for posting questions on support issues and getting accurate answers to them and/or providing resources links such as http://akismet.com/contact/

    Our technical support forums cannot be used as bulletin boards for blog promotion, business promotion or discussion purposes. Please respect our policy and promote your blog in social networks. http://en.forums.wordpress.com/topic/forums-housekeeping?replies=1

  23. That last paragraph is a copy and paste answer that I frequently post because there are misguided bloggers who think these technical support forums are for discussion purposes when they are not.

    You believe you have an Akismet issue that is in some way different than the issue we all face. You believe that this thread in a public forum that's available to all spammers on the internet is the place to create what you refer to as "an authentic discussion". I don't believe that's the case at all.

    You have been provided with accurate answers and resource links re: "5 things every blogger should know about spam" on this page Akismet: How it works http://akismet.com/how/ and you have been provided with a contact link you can use to contact Akismet Staff directly. Please do that.

  24. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    I assume a technical support thread would be an authentic discussion among WordPress members is that all the technical support threads I have written in have been such discussions.

    In order to address and try to solve technical issues, members discuss them. By discussion I mean that (in cases where the answer is not immediately obvious and the questioner simply needs to be informed about it, which, as far as I can remember, has not been the case with the problems I have brought up) members describe the problem, ask questions about it, analyse it, suggest solutions, report the results of their measures, and evaluate each other's responses. Such discussions, heretofore always meaningful and valuable, I have also had with WP's "happiness engineers". They are the way in which accurate answers are given and solutions found. They are what I find all the time in the support forums.

    Are these forums not for such purposes? Obviously, you mean by discussion something else, which is neither what I mean nor what I am doing here.

    An authentic discussion among WordPress members (and happiness engineers) is thus in my experience the way technical issues are addressed and often indeed solved in an excellent way. It is not a discussion where, for a new instance, participants accuse others of seeking to promote their blogs (!). This allegation is truly remarkable. Is there even a link to my blog here, as there is to yours?

    You say many strange things. Another new one you say now is that I believe I "have an Akismet issue that is in some way different than the issue we all face". On what do you base this? I very definitely do not believe this. Quite the contrary. I believe at least very many, perhaps indeed all, have exactly the same Akismet issue.

    It is for this reason that, while appreciating your links to Akismet, I belive this is an issue of general interest to WP which should be discussed - in the sense described above - here. It seems to me a relevant continuation of the thread would be, for instance, a discussion - in the same sense - of responses from Akismet.

  25. janolofbengtsson
    Member

    Corrigendum: The first paragraph in my last comment above should read:

    I assume a technical support thread would be an authentic discussion among WordPress members because all the technical support threads I have written in have been such discussions.

  26. Hi marcys and janolofbengtsson,

    If you have any concerns about spam on your site, please contact Akismet directly: http://akismet.com/contact/

    Discussion of spam patterns can be fascinating, but is not a topic for general WordPress.com support, so I am going to close this thread. The Akismet team should be able to assist you from here. :)

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