Thursday, November 09, 2006


Spammers continue their barrage of comment spam on my blog (currently over 100 a day) and Akismet continues to hand them their balls on a platter. I don't understand why this isn't a bigger story. Akismet should be getting a fucking ticker-tape parade. Everyone bemoans spam and all the problems it causes and wonders what the solution might be. Apparently the answer is Akismet. I don't pretend to be an expert on the technology behind it but I'd love to know why it isn't directly applicable to email.

Akismet has blocked over 7,500 comment spam in the last six months, the thought of having to delete all of those manually is horrifying to contemplate. It's at least 99% effective - hardly any comment spam get through and there are very few false positives (meaning I have to recover genuine comments that were misidentified as spam). Although, here's a warning: careful about putting links in comments, this is often a red flag for spam filters. And with the tsunami of comment spam I'm getting at the moment there's a high risk I might miss any false positive thus losing the comment forever.

The stats on their site are scary - they've collectively blocked over 310 million spamm and catch several hundred thousand more every day. By their estimation 93% of all comments are spam. This seems on par with many estimates for the proportion of spam email as well.

But I don't have a significant problem with spam email either. Both my gmail and yahoo accounts have spam filters that are nearly 100% effective so I just have to check occasionally to make sure there are no fals positives there instead of having to wade through mountains of spam to get to my real email.

So why does spam keep happening?

If there was any intelligence or direction behind the comment spam they surely would have given up on trageting Wordpress blogs ages ago. This leads me to believe that most of it is coming from zombie nets. Foolish people without sufficient anti-virus protection whose hijacked computers are spewing out millions of spam without them realising it. I can't help thinking that some people are just too stupid to be allowed to have a computer. Then again, I think that there are lots of people who are too stupid to be allowed to breathe. One day I'll get my way.

I still advocate that those mega rich IT types should forget about solving world hunger and disease and instead donate a bit of their money to hiring hitmen to kill spammers. Not quietly and secretly either; video their executions and put it up on YouTube. Now that's a video I'd pay to see! Actually, if you want some cathartic reading, try this article from Wired about the gruesome murder of a Russian spam king.

Microsoft are trumpeting their shiny new anti-virus and anti-spam weapons which, based on their track record, is probably bullshit but from what I've seen they're going about it the wrong way anyhow. They're obsessing over stopping spam and viruses from coming in

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