Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Grrrrr!


As those who know me in the flesh would tell you, now that I’m happily retired and no longer trying to do three things at once, I’m usually reasonably  laid-back and good at taking life as it comes.  Of course I get angry about the big things, like injustice and corruption and the mess we’re making of our wonderful planet, but I don’t often get irritated by the little things nowadays.

However, as the past month has gone on, I’ve become more and more irritated by one particular little thing and that is spam. Not email spam, as our ISP does a wonderful job of filtering that, but blog spam - those annoying pseudo-comments that have recently been cluttering up my blog.

In the past Blogger’s spam filter has worked well and I've been able to carry on happily without the dreaded word verification I find so hard to decipher and without needing to use comment moderation. However this new wave of spam seems to be much more sophisticated and able to fool Blogger’s filtering system, with the result that I’m having to clear spam messages from my blog on a very regular basis.

Being a stubborn old biddy, I still refuse to put word verification on my blog, but I have reluctantly switched on comment moderation for all posts more than 10 days old. I also make sure that all comments are emailed to me, not just the moderated ones, so that I can go to my dashboard and mark them as spam, rather than simply deleting them from the comments section of my blog.

This, I gather, is known as training the spam filter and it’s not the way I would choose to spend my time. Knitting socks is much more fun and DH and I have warm feet at the end of it, but a spamless blog is also a worthwhile objective , so I will do what it takes to achieve it. That won’t stop me grinding my teeth with annoyance just a little, as I do my bit to frustrate the spammers. Let’s hope my dentist doesn’t notice......

Postscript

In her comment Annie at knitsofacto gave two excellent tips which I think deserve to be more easily found by those engaged in the battle against spam:

1.       Never leave the spam comments on a post. Just having links in place on a legitimate site gives the spammers legitimacy.  

2.      A quick scan of those comments the spam filter does pick up is all that's then necessary before deleting them. If you just look at the end of the comments, phrases like 'my site' are a dead giveaway that you're looking at spam.

 Image via Google
  

66 comments:

  1. I also find I have to read the spam comments a couple of times before my brain makes sense of the garbled massage, which takes up even more time.

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    1. Why do we do this? The link is a dead giveaway that it's spam, but we still try to make sense of it before deleting it. :-)

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  2. I get a kick out of them. It's been especially bad the last couple of months but, some of them are hilarious.

    If they make it past the filter and it's an old post I just leave it. The only thing that irritates me is when a legitimate comment ends up in the spam. I don't check it every day.

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    1. You would! :-) It's the rebel in you that lets them be, while the rest of us are busy trying to eliminate them.

      I agree that the recent wave has been more interesting as some of them almost make sense. A few have even gone as far as addressing me as 'dear one' in an attempt to get past the filter. However I get rid of them all on principle as I sometimes link to older posts and don't want to have to check for spam before I do so.

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    2. This, for you, is very smart. You are really sensible lady. I think what you've said here has not been talked enough. I am really look for you in the future. Please visit my blog isaschoolbusyellow.

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    3. ROFL! Are you training for a new career?

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    4. ;)

      I got one from a methadone clinic today...must be the company I'm keeping.

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    5. Makes me wonder what my spam says about me. :-)

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  3. For a while I had dozens of them on the poetry blog now that I’ve introduced comment moderation they’ve disappeared.

    I installed comment moderation for any post older than 4 days on my main blog: hey presto, no spammers. at all. And should one get through the web then all comments come to my emails, where I can erase them without even opening them.

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    1. It's odd which blogs they decide to target and which posts within those blogs. I have a few older posts which get lots of spam, but recently I've started to get it on the current post which is much more of a nuisance.

      I only installed comment moderation on older posts a few days ago and am still getting spam, but I'm crossing my fingers it will eventually deter the blighters.

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  4. All comments are emailed to me so if the spam filter on blogger doesn't pick them up I delete them when they come in. It was quite bad for a while but right now it's quiet..seems to go in phases.

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    1. That's what I used to do, but then I read that to train the spam filter we need to mark them as spam on the dashboard before deleting them. You may already do this, but at one time I didn't.

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  5. I deeply sympathise Perpetua. Despite having a simple Captcha on my WordPress blog, I currently have 246 spam comments in my spam folder, everyone of which I've individually dispatched there in the past 3 days.

    Like you, I hate 'word verification' as I struggle to interpret what I'm meant to reproduce. I'm sure that those who use it, lose a lot of genuine comments because of prospective commenters giving up in despair.

    Unfortunately, ever-increasing levels of spam reflects the ever-increasing number of visitors attracted to your blog. My last post but one, http://rickyyates.com/how-to-be-czech-in-10-easy-steps/ went viral with over two thousand visitors in 24 hours at one point. The side effect - an ever increasing number of spam comments along with an increasing number of genuine ones. Grrrrr as you say!

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    1. Wow, that's a LOT of spam, Ricky! My handful pales into insignificance in comparison.

      When I first started my blog the word verification was easily decipherable and didn't bother me at all. When it changed and became so very difficult, I took it off, because I really didn't want to inflict it on my readers.

      I'm sure you're right that a somewhat higher profile fort a blog leads to increased spam, though I have never come anywhere near the number of visits you mention. I'd be very lucky to get that in a couple of months, let alone 24 hours!

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  6. You admonished me for my word verication hurdles last year, Big Sis, but I stuck to my guns. I don't get many comments at all, but then I don't post much at present, either, so I haven't many followers. Maybe I put some nice peeps off saying lovely things, with word verification, but I don't get spam either.

    Win some, lose some, I guess. I find the loop openers on modern cans of Spam even more infuriating.

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    1. I remember it well, Baby Sis. :-)

      I do loathe the new word verification, especially the numbers which are often so dark and blurred that I have to try repeatedly to get something I can reproduce. Hopefully I won't find it so hard once my cataracts have been dealt with, but I still prefer not to make my commenters jump through that hoop. I would go to full moderation instead if I really had to.

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  7. Ah, see...the price of popularity!! If you hadn't attracted so many of us genuine real people, maybe the spammers wouldn't have noticed you! It's reaching nearly sixteen thousand visitors that's got 'em interested!! Still, I sympathise. Although they are funny. A bit. For a short while....

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    1. LOL! If only that were the case, but I fear the spammers take a spattergun approach and all of us are potential targets. What I find so funny is the way they fix on one or two really old posts and keep spamming those, as if someone is actually going to go back and read them. :-) Comment moderation is taking care of those, but the new, almost comprehensible and often rather familiar ones seem to head for the latest post, as you've seen.

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  8. The spam comments are so inane - I find it difficult to understand what they are trying to achieve. I treat them with the same contempt as the nuisance phone calls. If when the phone rings it flags up "international" as the caller I just pick the phone up then say nothing.....it's hard to know whether it annoys the caller or not but the thought that it might gives me some satisfaction. The trouble with spammers is once you spot them it is too late and it's almost impossible to get any satisfactory revenge !!

    I too have comment moderation on posts over two weeks old, and email notification on all comments, but have had to resort to word verification because some really dodgy ones were getting published before I spotted them and could delete. I don't want my blog to be used for advertising for anything, dodgy or not.

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    1. I think all they want to do is to get you to click on their links, but I really doubt whether anyone does. We don't get many nuisance phone calls but deal with them very much like you. What a way to make a living....

      I noticed that you had reverted to word verification and can understand why you felt you had to. Being at work all day means you can't check and deal with spam very readily, whereas I'm retired and have plenty of time to give battle by training the spam filter. Onwards and upwards.....

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  9. Just maddening, isn't it. I do loathe those word verification thingies though, which half the time I cannot decipher at all. (Perhaps that makes me a cyborg?) Hang in there.

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    1. I guess advertising has always been with us, but this particular kind is really infuriating. I share your loathing for word verification and would go to full comment moderation rather than reintroduce it. Hopefully it own't come to that. :-)

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  10. I have switched my verification off once more hoping to make it a little easier for people. It doesn't bother me as if I squint I can usually make out the right letters. I did see some of your spam on one of your posts, I suppose before you had chance to remove it, so it is probably better to have the comments under your own control.
    Some of the spam is just rubbish, but others have a "stalker" quality to them which is a bit disconcerting. I will continue without the verification being on for a week or two and see how I go.

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    1. I noticed that and was very grateful for it, Rosemary. As you always have full comment moderation, hopefully you will be able to deal with any spam that way, as it really is so much easier to comment without word verification.

      Yes, three spam comments did sneak onto my last post overnight and they were good examples of the new kind of almost comprehensible spam which the filter doesn't easily recognise yet. Hence my civic duty to do my bit in training it. :-)

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    2. I have just read a tip on keeping spam away, and that is in the Settings under Posts and comments you change "Who can comment?" to "Registered User" rather than "Anyone". I am going to give that a try and see how it goes.

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    3. That's certainly one way, Rosemary, but it means that no-one without a Google or other similar account can comment and a few of my commenters, including our daughter, are in that situation. I'll be interested to hear whether you find any of your readers find themselves unable to comment. For myself, I'll keep training the spam filter and staying as open as I can to all genuine comments. :-)

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  11. I have them on the old blogs....really odd how many are now getting through the Blogger system.

    Wordpress seems to stop them dead.

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    1. There's a new wave of rather differently formatted ones which the filter isn't catching as yet and we're all suffering.

      WordPress uses the Akismet spam filter which works very well. Also WP allows you to set comment moderation for the first comment by any new person, which would also catch spam before it appears on your blog. I envy you that. :-)

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  12. I've been reading about other bloggers' spam lately and wondering what the problem was. Then this week the spammers found me too. Weird and funny, but slightly scary too. Guess I feel I have 'arrived' at some level of the hierarchy of blogland. Hope you are rid of them soon, Perpetua.

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    1. I think it happens to us all sooner or later, Patricia, but it's an accolade we can well do without. This new wave of spam seems to be very widespread and troublesome, hence my post, but I'm determined not to go back to word verification. Hopefully if we all dutifully deal with the nuisance by marking it as spam, the spam filter will learn to recognise and deal with it.

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  13. Must be infuriating. I get some strange stuff , and will set up something to educate the system, now you have explained it so well. I have to say that nothing much is making me cross at the moment.....being back in Caunes is just wonderful. Hope everything else is ok Perpetua. Jx

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    1. Oh wow, you've made it back to Caunes, Janice! Brilliant. :-) I do hope the sun is shining for you.

      Comment moderation for older posts is a regrettable but helpful step, but the main thing is not to delete the messages that get through on to your blog, but go the the comments section of your dashboard and identify each one as spam. It really does help.

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  14. So far, touch wood I haven't had this problem. However it might be that I only allow other bloggers to read my posts and not the general public. I switched the word verification off as I also have problems reading them myself. I just wonder how this stops spam though because if the spammers can read it and enter it they can still comment on a post. Do these people come through as Anonymous? I have had the occasional new follower who does not have a link to their own blog and wondered if I should be concerned. Should I? Good luck with you own current irritations.
    Patricia x

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    1. If your blog comes up on a Google search (which it does) it may only be a matter of time before the spammers find you too, I'm afraid. It's horribly hit and miss and the only way to avoid it completely is to make your blog totally private with invited readers only. Word verification stops automated spam, but human spammers can always find their way through if they are willing to go to the trouble.

      As for followers without blogs, there are plenty of those and I have a number, as do all bloggers. Many people follow blogs for a time before deciding to start one of their own (as I did) and some are content just to follow and not write themselves.

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    2. Ah thanks for that, it makes more sense now, P x

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  15. I can only think of one time when I was spammed. Perhaps I'm lucky. Thanks for the info on what to do if it happens.

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    1. It really does vary, Bonnie. I had no spam for a long time after I started, then a bit, but it's the recent big increase which has been annoying. Fingers crossed you stay clear.

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  16. As our friend Winnie the Pooh might say, oh bother! I don't get much spam, but, when I do it comes in big batches (spamalot!) and they are as inane as can be. Certain posts seem to attract them, but, can't figure out quite what triggers them. At any rate, wordpress has been pretty good about catching them and I do have a filter, which helps. Good luck, Perpetua, and my you back at knitting those toasty toe warmers asap!

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    1. I think the longer you've been blogging the more likely it is that the spammers will find you and your blog goes back several years now, Penny. I too have no idea why the spammers fix on certain (often long-past) posts and leave the rest alone, hence my recent decision to moderate comments on older posts.

      From all I read WordPress handles spam very well, as did Blogger until this last wave, so I hope Google pulls its socks up and gets the filter working well again.

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  17. Grrr indeed. My wobbly blog platform just suddenly gave me word verification without asking me if I wanted it - but it did cut down the number of spammy blogs. So then, a new career awaits training a spam filter! Don't let it put you off your lovley blog though.

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    1. Your word verification doesn't really bother me, as the words often make sense and I can mostly do it straight away. Blogger's version is different and MUCH harder to read.

      I think it would take a lot more than some irritating spam to put me off blogging and I even take satisfaction in trying to improve the spam filter. :-)

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  18. Dear Perpetua, I've been having trouble with this for about six months. Strange messages that have nothing to do with anything. And all of these are for past postings. I "bounce" them. But that doesn't help. How do I--with Blogger and Mac Mail--show that they are spam????????? Peace.

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    1. I can't help with Mac Mail, Dee, as I'm on a PC and Windows Live Mail, but marking the email notification messages as spam will put them into the spam folder on your dashboard, from where you can delete them.

      Alternatively, if you go to your dashboard to moderate and publish your comments, make sure you don't just delete the spam comments but instead click on 'spam' underneath each one, which will move it to the spam folder and help the filter to learn to recognise it as spam.

      If this still doesn't make sense, just email me and i'll go through it it more detail.

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  19. I'm so glad to read this, Perpetua, as well as all the comments. I've been worried about all the spam I've suddenly been getting. It does seem to have increased recently as pageviews have increased. In fact, the increase in both pageviews and spam on my blog have been so dramatic lately that I've been a bit nervous. I worry about something happening to my site like happened to Rosaria a year or two ago when her blog was hijacked briefly. Has anyone else had a sudden increase in pageviews as well as spam? I understand people's impatience with word verification. I hate it, too, but it may be necessary for the time being. Grrrr indeed!

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    1. Kathy, I seem to remember your mentioning that a couple of your recent posts has been getting a lot of hits. Unfortunately that would be quite enough to attract the spammers' attention, with the results we all know and hate. I hadn't heard about the hijacking of Rosaria's blog and had thought that more often happened to dormant blogs which have no-one managing them any longer.

      If you are measuring pageviews using Blogger's own stats a sudden rise in numbers could simply be referrer spam, which distorts your pageview totals but is otherwise harmless. I've had it happen to me in the past, which is why the only pageview totals I pay any attention to are those from my third-party StatCounter monitor which is much more reliable.

      The recent rise in spam messages which aren't picked up by the spam filter is being widely experienced over the past month or so, hence my determination to mark all of them as spam to help improve the filter. They're annoying, but I don't think they represent as threat to any individual blog.

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  20. I've had comment moderation on for quite some time now and was thinking recently of removing it, as Blogger seemed to be dealing with the spam. However it's just not working now. Not only do I get hundreds in my spam box, they are in my awaiting moderation box too.

    One thing you might have a solution for (as you are good at this sort of thing)...I used to receive emails for all comments, as well as emails from other blogs on which I had commented. This is no longer happening and I don't understand why. It's annoying because I have to keep revisiting blogs to check that my comment has appeared and also to see the response from the blogger. I still click the "notify me by email" after the comment on other blogs, but it makes no difference.

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    1. What a shame this new wave of spam has hit just as you were hoping to take off comment moderation. As long as we all keep marking it as spam before deleting, hopefully the spam filter will catch up with the new-format messages and the amount it misses will decrease.

      As far as your other problem is concerned, I had the same happen to me for a few days at the end of last year, but then it all went back to normal. Could it perhaps be something to do with your cookie settings? Or could your ISP be putting all Blogger messages in a spam folder rather than letting you see/download them? I'm afraid these are random suggestions as I really don't know why it's happening all the time to you.

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    2. I have no idea really what to do about cookie settings. And they aren't going into a spam folder either. I've searched the Blogger help pages which is a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack, to no avail. Ah well, will just have to put up with it. Thanks anyway xx

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    3. Cookie settings are in the security area of your browser controls, Ayak, and you do need to allow cookies for Blogger to work properly. However, as you used to be able to use the 'subscribe by email' link and now can't, unless your cookie settings have changed I don't know what else to suggest. Sorry.

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  21. I'm so sorry you're being deluged with this nonsense, Perpetua. I don't have too much problem with it, but I read others who speak of having trouble. If it's like other problems I've encountered in the blogosphere, it's just as likely to go away on its own before you ever begin to figure it out! It's not fair that this is happening to you right now while you're waiting for your new and refreshed eyes! All that reading isn't much fun right now, I'd presume! :-)

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    1. Reading stuff on the screen hasn't been easy for a while, Debra, hence my dislike of word verification, but I have my coping mechanisms. :-) The new-style spam messages look much more like ordinary comments at first sight, which is, I think, why the Blogger spam filter is letting them through in such numbers. I wouldn't call it a real deluge as far as I'm concerned, but it's a very steady trickle, rather than the occasional drop I've had in the past. Still, training a spam filter could be called useful mental exercise..... :-)

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  22. So far I'm okay on my blog. But the word verification is getting harder!

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    1. It is indeed! I do hope you spamfree status continues. :-)

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  23. I find I get SPAM after I use certain words in my posts. If I mention clothing or bags I get all the fake bag stores. On the Illuminating blog award page I got hundreds of hits from e-mail list sellers and finance companies. Mentions of women or the word beginning with s for which I have a housework post and I get the porn sites.
    Most of them get caught in my spam filter, the ones that tend to get through are the facebook ones. I never click the links as I don't have tile and I am afraid of viruses.
    By the way, 2nd day without any aspartame and my tinnitus has reduced significantly. :)

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    1. That's interesting, Kerry. I can't see any connection between the subjects of my posts and the spam I get. In the past the spammers used to target a handful of older posts, but recently they've started finding the latest one which is more of a nuisance. Numbers aren't large, thank goodness, but they do keep coming and no, I DON'T want a payday loan or to know how to buy a car with bad credit. :-) I'm not tempted to click on the links (my DH would never forgive me if I did!) so I just mark as spam and delete.

      Great news about the tinnitus. I do hope the improvement continues.

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  24. It's such a pain isn't it. But you are tackling it the best way.

    Two things I don't think anyone else has covered in their comments (although I haven't read every one of them). One, never leave the spam comments on a post, just having links in place on a legitimate site gives the spammers legitimacy. And two, a quick scan of those comments the spam filter does pick up is all that's then necessary before deleting them ... just look at the end of the comments, phrases like 'my site' are a dead giveaway that you're looking at spam. Though if you have the time they can be hilarious to read through :)

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    1. It's such a waste of good blogging time, but I've been following your excellent example. :-)

      Thanks for those two great tips. I think I'll pop them in as a postscript so that they get read by those who don't read comments. You're right, spam can be hilarious if we're in the mood, and I suppose it must get some results or why would people spend so much time and effort doing it?

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  25. I commiserate. WordPress has a great spam filter, I've only found one legitimate comment in the spam folder in a year and no spam has ever got published. I moderate all comments; you never know if someone one can short of a six-pack is going to start throwing their toys out of the pram (it's not happened yet, but you never know.....). I have great fun reading through the spam folder though, as the English is appalling :-D

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    1. Thanks. I do envy you the WordPress filter which is superb according to all I've read about it. The Blogger one used to do a perfectly adequate job before this new wave of spam was launched in the New Year. I'm hoping it's being upgraded as I type.....

      I've managed to avoid moderation on current posts so far and in two years have only once removed a comment that wasn't spam. I would hate to have to put it on all posts, as I love the way I sometimes find that readers have commented on other comments before I've had even chance to reply. It can get quite lively on here. :-)

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    2. A right royal tea party! By the way, I nominated you for the Liebster award. More info here: http://multifariousmeanderings.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/and-the-award-winner-is-me/

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    3. Gosh, how very kind of you, MM! I shall be across directly. :-)

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  26. WordPress spam filter is good as lots of others have said. Shame their Reader hasn't bothered notifying me of your posts. Still, rough (seas?) with the smooth and all that.

    Some years ago, Blogger had a terrible invasion of spam, and it must have really forced them to tighten things, up because then it just stopped. I suspect the same will happen again.

    I hate word verification with a vengeance, I much prefer partial or even total moderation (I don't think total is necessary on WP). I am so short-sighted I can see anything with my nose pressed up against it but the way Blogger runs the characters together sometimes makes it impossible.

    Akismet is excellent, although oddly I have had a couple creep through recently, so they are clearly targeting everywhere. I came back from a week off-line to find 700+ spam comments on roughseas, primarily on my About page so I have just stopped comments for now on there. Result: an immediate drop in spam. I have a vision of little spam bots speaking in spam bot language to each other saying 'Go target roughseas About page!'

    I tend to scan all of them (even 700) just to make sure a genuine person hasn't fallen through the net.

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    1. I never thought of balancing the excellence of Google Reader against the current fallibility of their Blogger spam filter, but now you mention it I know which I prefer to have. Spam is a pain in the neck, but easily dealt with, but missing posts as often as the WP Reader appears to do would really annoy me.

      I'm with you on the word verification, but it's the numbers I find hardest now, as they are often so dark/faint/blurred as to be indistinguishable. I still persist on blogs I find worth commenting on, but it does give me pause at times and I'm always delighted to find blogs which continue to manage without it.

      There are half a dozen posts the spammers seem to concentrate on, so moderation on past posts has put a stop to any success, but the recent invasion on current posts is what prompted this post. Thankfully it's eased off a bit now. Crikey, 700 spam messages! If I ever had spam in those numbers, I'd stop comments on old posts at once.

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  27. Perpetua,
    I don't know about you, but I've started to get spam email for the first time. I have long used Gmail, and have never received spam in by InBox until recently.
    Those spammers sure are getting good.

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    1. Bad luck, Nerima. We used to get a lot of spam email at one time, but our current ISP is very good at filtering it and we no longer have a problem. It sounds like Google is being targeted both with Gmail and Blogger, so let's hope they can improve their spam filters.

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