Ideas To Reduce Comment Spam

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In an email to Ian Griffiths I mentioned that I wished he had a comments section because some of his posts are so intriguing I have to reply. ;) His reply relayed a common angst regarding enabling comments on a blog, comment spam

Looking around, I see this is a common problem as evidenced by the following posts by Roy Osherove who wants to turn comments off, Chris Anderson who threatens to turn them off, and John Lam who did turn them off.

This is disheartening because comments can be a vital part of a blog encouraging lively and insightful conversation. But then again, not if your constantly getting these type of comments

Noticed on a dirty white van, letters made by hand: \ "I Wish My Wife Was As Dirty As This." \ Underneath, different style: \ "She Is!"

Funny? Maybe. But off-topic. Unlike the garden variety email spam, the bulk of comment spam tends not to be automated. If it were, it'd be plenty easy to stop by requiring users to type in some text they see in an image.

Rather, much of the smelly meat is due to the fact Google is bringing droves and droves of visitors to blogs as bloggers all link to each other. Some of these unwashed masses decide to leave their mark on your site.

As John Lam pointed out, simple IP filtering isn't enough. I've been thinking alot about how to leverage network effects to reduce comment spam. For example, in general I'll trust people who have subscribed to my blog to make comments, and if they've been subscribed a while, I'll trust those that subscribe to theirs.

I can imagine adding features to blogging back-ends such as .TEXT or DasBlog whereby trust relationships can be built by using something similar to the TrackBack API. Suppose I subscribe to your blog and you try to make a comment on my site. Since my blog knows that I am subscribed to yours (this will require aggregator integration), it automatically lets you comment. It then can go one step further. Perhaps it will ask you, "Any changes to your whitelist since we last exchanged data?". We can then exchange whitelist info. Certain spam engines work in this manner.

The big problem with this approach is that identity is a tough nut to crack without requiring that commenters create a login and password and building in some sort of verification system.

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