December 6th, 2017

Blog down, blog up, and spam

About a year ago I discussed the number of spam comments I get here that are caught by the spam filter. It had been formidable for a long time, and then it had suddenly improved dramatically and the amount of spam coming here was markedly reduced:

I used to get tons and tons of spam that was caught by the spam filter…So every day I’d clear the spam filter, which usually had caught many thousands of spam comments—ordinarily between 2,000 and 10,000 spam comments a day. But then, just a little while ago…suddenly the flow of spam comments nearly stopped. Since then I’ve been getting maybe 100 spam a day caught in the filter. And it’s not that other spam is getting through, either; very little spam seems to be coming to the blog in the first place.

Well, that happy state of affairs lasted less than a year. A couple of months ago it started creeping up. At first it was just a few hundred more. But a few days ago—boom! I’m back in about the 5,000 range.

What happened? I think it’s one of those virus- or bacteria-type things where sometimes the tools we have to fight them off are in the ascendance, and then the foe (bacteria, virus, spam) figures out a way to break through the defenses and flood the host again.

In the case of spam, as long as the filter is operative it doesn’t really matter. It just means that when I clear the spam it takes a bit longer for it to happen, and I have to do it a lot more often. But it’s curious.

And yesterday my blog was down. You may have noticed. This happens now and then, but luckily it’s not often and when it does happen it tends to be just momentary (knock wood). Usually the problem is with the host—they’re doing maintenance or their servers got overloaded or some such thing. Yesterday there was no problem with the host. It was apparently the blog, but I don’t know the cause.

What I think is called the “back end” of the blog is a busy place. Wars go on all the time, and I get notice of some of these “attacks.” Bots and/or people try to break in for various purposes, and they come from all over the world. There are various tools the blog has for fighting them off (note I’m being purposely vague, but my vagueness also stems from my own relative tech-unsavvy). I have no idea what was going on yesterday, but so far the good guys won. I’ll try to keep it that way.

You may also remember that a while back I said I was working on a redesign of the blog. Nothing too dramatic, but something that will make it more viewable and allow it to load better on cellphones. What happened? Well, the person who used to do that sort of thing for me is no longer on the case, and I’ve been trying to do it myself (with a tiny bit of help). I’ve been so busy I haven’t gotten around to it yet, and I guess it’s not my top priority. But I still intend to do it.

That’s probably enough inside baseball for today.

[ADDENDUM: When I first published this post I had just cleaned out my spam filter. In the twenty-nine minutes since then, my filter caught 223 spam comments. I just deleted them. That’s the sort of thing I’m talking about. That would be a rate of 10,704 spam comments a day.]

3 Responses to “Blog down, blog up, and spam”

  1. Cornflour Says:

    From MIT Technology Review:

    “By some measures, bots account for 49 percent of visits to Web pages and are responsible for over 50 percent of clicks on ads. This impact is set to increase as the number of bots rises exponentially.”

    If bots can be recognized, can they be taxed? (This might be a ridiculous question, but I didn’t mean it as a joke.)

  2. vanderleun Says:

    I don’t know. Bots are pretty taxing as they are.

  3. AesopFan Says:

    Do the advertisers know they are paying for phantom viewers? Surely they must, in which case are ad rates weighted for a particular sites average “bot count”?

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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