Comments to be time-capped

This comment a few minutes ago by the aptly nick-named “fool” is fairly typical of comments on very old Troppo posts. Comments on old posts are almost always either blog spam or moronic (and sometimes both).

In fact, the entire Ubersportingpundit empire (including Troppo) has been getting bombarded by huge amounts of blog spam over the last week or two (like Tim Blair, it seems). It’s getting so bad that our landlord Scott Wickstein is worried that the web hosting company may soon impose sanctions for excessive bandwidth use as a direct result of the flood of spam.

Accordingly, he’s about to tweak the database so that the comments facility for all posts automatically shuts off after a designated period of time. I pleaded for as long a period of open comment facility as Scott could allow, and he’s agreed to leave Troppo posts open for 14 days from first posting. That should be just about enough to exhaust constructive dialogue on most topics, while limiting opportunities for the spammers. If you have something you want to say about an older post, you can always email your comment to me (kpar2567 AT bigpond.net.au), and I’ll open the thread momentarily and post it on your behalf.

I hope this innovation won’t prove too inconvenient for readers. I’m still keen on promoting leisurely, considered dialogue on issues we discuss here. But the spammers have become so troublesome that drastic action is needed. Scott is going to undertake the tweaking this coming weekend, and we probably won’t be able to post while it’s happening (probably Sunday).

PS – It looks like we are being attacked by the same group of arseholes who targetted Tim Blair – a weird combination of trolls and blog spam. I say trolls because at least some of the comments are vaguely responsive to the topic of the post i.e. they’re inserted by real humans not spambots. I’ve just been forced to close comments on a second old post that’s been infested with a series of these comments in only a few minutes. If it happens a third time (which I imagine it will, since it’s clearly being orchestrated by real live sub-human fuckwits, who are probably lurking around and reading this post), I’ll be forced to close off all comments completely until Scott implements his fix on the weekend.

About Ken Parish

Ken Parish is a legal academic, with research areas in public law (constitutional and administrative law), civil procedure and teaching & learning theory and practice. He has been a legal academic for almost 20 years. Before that he ran a legal practice in Darwin for 15 years and was a Member of the NT Legislative Assembly for almost 4 years in the early 1990s.
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Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

It is not the bandwidth that is the issue- Ubersportingpundit.com’s bandwith allowance is so generous that I could still accomodate Troppo even if it was getting 50,000 visits a day. The problem is that the server is constantly getting worked over by the scripts used to foil them. This slows down the websites and annoys the other customers.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

I just checked the activity log- 20 spam blocks in the last half an hour.

Yobbo
Yobbo
2022 years ago

You guys should really think about sticking a Turing Code in the comments to prevent spam – it works a treat for me. It’s not too big a hassle for the real commentors and it stops spambots cold. The only problem you have then is with morons.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Yeah, that measure is under investigation as well.

Other possible measures include photo ID’s, compulsary registration and DNA testing. I’m determined to crack down on this.

Alan Green
2022 years ago

Spamming trolls. Wonderful. It’s everything wrong with blogs in one convenient package. 14 days is a generous compromise.

I’ve been lucky and haven’t had to crack down yet, which is great because I get some of my best comments on the older posts – off the wall, but fun to read. Here’s one of my favourites.

David Tiley
2022 years ago

Two weeks is surely enough. People might post after that time, but who reads it? Mind you, I have various Americans arriving to spit on each other about horses and politics from something months ago, and that keeps me entertained.

Ken Parish
Ken Parish
2022 years ago

Scott

I reckon Sam Ward’s suggestion of a Turing Code that commenters have to enter before being able to comment would fix the problem, along with closing off comment boxes automatically after 14 days. That would stop all robot-generated comments completely. We might still get a few human-directed idiot comments, but it shouldn’t be too onerous to delete them manually, because they’ll only be in recent posts that you’re keeping an eye on anyway.

The advantage of the above combination is that we could then dispense with MT Blacklist, because it seems it’s the continual operation of that script on the web host’s server that causes slowdown and therefore problems with the host. If we don’t need to use Blacklist, the problem is solved. I doubt that the spammers will be able to sustain inserting spam comments manually in numbers large enough to be a major problem. It just wouldn’t be cost-effective for them. It’s the ability to use robots that makes it profitable for them, and that allows them to generate so many comments that bloggers’ defences can be overwhelmed, even (so it now seems) if you’re using MT Blacklist.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

I’m pretty optimistic that I can get the Turing code to work this time. I’m enlisting an army of helpers to help me install this code. But we shall see.

Scott Wickstein
2022 years ago

Although having said all that the Turing code requires a script on the server and I’m not totally sure that it is there yet.. But by Sunday, all will be revealed, etc etc!