Hiatus, Interrupted

UPDATE: My current comment policy, whatever that may be, can be found here.

The Gentle Reader may have noticed a notice at the foot of the discussions on this site, saying something like “Comments for this post will be closed on 22 March 2008.” This is a new anti-spam measure, implemented with Comment Timeout and intended to keep my Akismet spam bucket from filling up six pages overnight. Discussions will be closed after about sixty days of inactivity (I will probably tweak the figures when I feel like procrastinating and have exhausted the potential of changing my desktop background image). So far, closing the older discussions has cut my spam intake by, roughly estimating, an order of magnitude, which makes me pretty happy.

6 thoughts on “Hiatus, Interrupted”

  1. I hope you’ll forgive this possibly very ignorant comment (I’ve never tried to set up a blog, and don’t know anything about the pros and cons of the different kinds of software that are available for doing so), but I’ve always wondered why CAPTCHAs aren’t used universally to limit spam. I gather there are audio versions available for sight-impaired users, and I’d be amazed if many spammers have hacked the technique.

    I suppose some commenters would find the extra effort annoying, but IMHO the quality of almost every blog would increase if commenters faced a small disincentive to type a response when they’re half asleep, intoxicated, or not really all that interested.

  2. CAPTCHAs are very common on Blogger sites; you’ll often be asked to fill one in to post on any blog hosted at Blogspot.com. To handle spam on the new, updated Eureka, I was thinking of installing reCAPTCHA, which combines the spam deterrent with distributed book digitization.

    I haven’t tried them out here, mostly because each new plugin I install requires an unknown amount of fidgeting to work properly. (The first plugin I tried for the “timeout” on discussions, Extended Comment Options, didn’t work.) And, gosh, what would life be like if I couldn’t hear from the indifferent and intoxicated?

  3. I did also once hear of a very clever way to defeat a CAPTCHA, but I don’t know how common it is. Here’s the trick: start yourself a pornography site, and make people solve a CAPTCHA to enter. You don’t generate the CAPTCHA yourself, though — you grab one from another website whenever you need one. When artificial intelligence isn’t up to the job, a horny human can always fill the gap!

    I’m sure there’s an SF story in that, somewhere.

  4. Ha! I guess the site need not even have any actual pornography (which presumably would cost the would-be spammer some money or effort to obtain, or why would anyone else be willing to work for it); it would only need to promise that something worth seeing lay behind the CAPTCHA, to attract a certain number of suckers.

    Still … I expect this method would have a global capacity orders of magnitude less than fully automated spam. Maybe if it’s being used at all, it’s being devoted to generating Yahoo and Hotmail email accounts for nefarious purposes, rather than lower-payoff enterprises like one-CAPTCHA-per-comment blog spamming.

  5. I suppose a pornographer might go into the spam business as a sideline (hey, there’s the first character in the story).

    According to McAfee, this method dates back more than a decade, and was used against Hotmail back in the 1990s. The Trojan Horse version is Captchar.

Comments are closed.