Tag Archives: plugin

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Blog Comment Spam is Not Solved

With all the comment spam, trackback spam, and pingback spam out there, developers have created some pretty powerful anti-spam tools. So why did I create a small, not-so-powerful anti-spam WordPress plugin like O RLY?

Here’s a screenshot of my pending comments a little while back. Notice the second comment, which slipped past Akismet:

o-rly-spam-comments1

Apparently some dude named Casey Fronczek wanted to let my readers know about his fishing trips. I clicked on the O RLY button, and here’s what Google had to show me:

o-rly-spam-comments2

This spam comment showed up about 17,000 times!

This is an interesting case because it shows that spammers aren’t always looking to place links or pass PageRank. They are always looking for some kind of payoff though, and you can see the roundabout technique here. Hopefully anyone interested in fishing trips in southern Florida will Google this guys relatively unique name and result in a sale. You may also see phone numbers, ICQ or other IM accounts, and similar contact information in some comment spam.

This is a little tougher to automatically delete because a spammy link is a really good signal for an automated filter. Hopefully if people have enough little tools, we bloggers can improve the state of the web as a whole. Get the plugin from WordPress.org, and please let me know of other good anti-spam plugins in the comments.

Sick of compliment spam on your blog?

Not amused One of the great things about having a blog is getting comments on your posts. It’s particularly gratifying when someone takes the time to tell you that your post was helpful, entertaining, or well-written.

Spammers know this and exploit it by generating compliment spam. They’ll put together a few lines of general praise and slather them across the web, hoping that bloggers will fall for the trick and post their spammy links.

Abusive social engineering like this really annoys me, so when in doubt I always do a Google exact phrase search to see if the compliment is really for me and not from a bot. This is tedious, so I created a simple WordPress plugin: O RLY Comment Spam Search.

You can get the plugin directly from WordPress.org, where you can also give it a rating to tell other webmasters how great (or non-great) it is. By the way, the plugin browser/installer added in WordPress 2.7 is very cool, and makes it much easier to try out plugins.

Judging by the thousands of blogs my O RLY searches have found, this sort of spam works. But why do spammers do it? Since WordPress (and most major blog systems) nofollow links in comments by default, the spammers can’t expect to gain any PageRank from these links. My guess is most of this spam is either intended to get traffic via clickthroughs or is generated by naive site owners, SEOs and marketers who don’t really understand how things work.

Take a look and let me know if it’s useful in the comments below. Also, let me know if it’s breaking on certain comments or otherwise buggy.

Use OpenId in your WordPress blog for comments and your identity

Worn old welcome mat The web has evolved into this amazing place filled with user-created content, blogs, wikis, photo sharing sites, and users can enter comments on just about all of them. But there’s a problem – commenting in Blogger, Flickr, and some random self-hosted WordPress blog requires you to create user accounts or type in tedious contact information separately in each one.

As a user, you probably want to spend your time commenting rather than remembering usernames and passwords.  As a blogger, you no doubt want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to comment on your posts.  What we need is some really powerful identity management system to make this all possible.

OpenID is an attempt at creating such a system that seems to be growing quickly.  Instead of hundreds of usernames and passwords you have a simple URL that you control.  I just added it to my WordPress blog to see if it’s helpful, and I’ll walk you through the steps you need to take to use it and allow your commenters to use it too.

How to use your blog as your OpenID

First off, you need to get an OpenID.  Luckily, you probably already have one.  Major sites like Blogger, LiveJournal, Flickr, and Yahoo are supporting OpenID so you can just go with what you have.  You can also go with a specific provider.  Which one should you use?  It doesn’t really matter, since you can use your site’s URL as your OpenID and switch providers whenever you want.

Now that you have a URL, you need to use delegation to allow your site’s URL to stand in.  In WordPress, this means opening up the header.php and adding a few lines to your <head> section.  If you’re using Google’s Blogger (like me), the links would look something like this:

<link rel=”openid.server” href=”http://draft.blogger.com/openid-server.g” />
<link rel=”openid.delegate” href=”http://blogname.blogspot.com/” />

One side note – if you view the source of this page, you won’t see these lines.  I’m using my root domain instead.

For more information, see this post by Sam Ruby.

How to use OpenID for comments in WordPress

This part is simple – like everything else you want to do with WordPress, there’s a plugin.  Just download and install the WP-OpenID plugin and activate it.

You should notice a little OpenID icon in the fields for the comments below this post.  Go a head and test it out.