A WHOLE LOT OF SPAM

Akismet, WordPress’s virus scanner-remover hasn’t been doing as good a job lately as it used to. It used to catch all the spam for this site. They did such a good job I didn’t even worry about it. These days, a lot of spam is sifting through as “trash,.” Trash isn’t categorized as spam … and as a result, it isn’t blocked the same way.

I’ve been trying to keep up with it. Most of the spam I get is full of viruses, worms and who knows what else. Often it is pages long and each line is a link to something I don’t want any part of. Last night, during a look around my site, I casually checked to see what was in the “comments” section of my personal page … and I realized there were more than 3,000 spam messages there — all received during that past 10 days.

What?


“Ham” is e-mail that is not Spam. In other words, “non-spam”, or “good mail.” It should be considered a shorter, snappier synonym for “non-spam.” Its use is common among anti-spam software developers, and not widely known elsewhere. In general it is probably better to use the term “non-spam”. 

Note that Askimet’s assessment of “missed spam” is a lot less than the spam they really missed. They missed thousands of them this month. 


I tried to delete them in one go — as in “Delete spam” — and the site crashed. Which it usually does if I try to delete more than a small amount of anything. This system is much better at adding stuff than removing it. I finally discovered that 50 was the maximum number of spam messages the system would delete without crashing. I deleted and deleted and deleted and noticed that for every fifty I deleted, another half-dozen would arrive. All were labeled as some version of “buy cheap auto insurance.” The comments which are, I assume, copied and pasted from who knows where, ranged from gutter porn to a criticism of political views I’ve never expressed, as well as the usual offers to set me up for working at home for triple digit salaries every week.

Half of the incoming posts were labeled trash, which I converted to spam and then deleted permanently, but I couldn’t get on top of it. I finally copied the contents of my page and deleted the original. Then I pasted the contents into a new page. I went into settings and removed “comments” as the default setting. I can add it for any post, but it won’t automatically appear and this is important on those pages where we don’t usually look.

It took me hours to deal with this. I’m writing this as a warning: there can be spam and dangerous viral spam in more places than just the spam and trash folders. If you have other pages, check and see what’s wormed its way into the “comments” on those pages.

Maybe it’s because I’m getting a lot of hits from Google these days, but the volume of spam coming has gone way up. It isn’t the highest it has ever been, but it has been very persistent and worrisome insofar as half of it comes it as “trash” rather than spam. Sneaky.

Popularity is something we aim for as bloggers … but spam is the price we pay for it. I’ve been hit by more than 20,000 spam items this month. I know a lot of people think spam is sort of funny and cute, but so much of it is full of malicious malware and viruses, I am having trouble seeing the humor of it. Mostly, I wish it would go away. Oh … and all the spam in my regular comment pages is mostly from the same five or six spammers, except for another few dozen who call themselves “floor sanding” companies.

A lot of it was originally written in Russian, Chinese, Greek, and other alphabets I can’t read.

Floor sanding?

Cheap insurance?

Does anyone … anywhere … look at this stuff? The people who do this must do it for a reason, presumably. They are trying to make money, right? Does this stuff actually make any money? Is there anyone so naïve that they believe this is “real”?

38 thoughts on “A WHOLE LOT OF SPAM

  1. There are people who still believe that this stuff is ‘for them’ and get very upset when it appears, and will actually write to the company and ask them to stop. I have a small problem with spam in my TDS mail account, but there is an excellent filter that you can set to take out particular addresses on a regular basis. I keep it semi auto, so I can see what’s in there, since in its zeal it sometimes grabs real email too.

    Google has never been a problem for me, but the spammers who visit my blog are. There too there’s a trash bin for spam, and I can view it (and do, daily) and remove the spam there.

    Much of it is ‘because’ spam. Because they can, apparently, the way people go around bashing mailboxes in the countryside. Some of it has strong virus potential and I never open any of it. Yahoo mail is the biggest problem, and will send me maybe two to three hundred pieces a day. Click.

    I guess the only way to safely sort out the good from the bad is to check it daily, and delete it that way instead of letting it build up. I tried ignoring it in Yahoo, but when it topped four digits I realized it was time to go back to daily deletions.

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    • This stuff comes from all over the place. This month has been a whammy and normally, I don’t worry about it because Askimet has been good about pulling it out. This time, though a lot of stuff is sneaking through. I dump it when I see it, but anything with lethal links makes me twitch. I’m getting a LOT of hits from Google and I think the spammers and scammers follow Google’s lead. Google isn’t creating the stuff, but they are a good bird dog about where to send them. I’ve had waves like this before and they backed off eventually … but I’ve never had so much coming through as “normal” when it isn’t. That’s a bit worrying.

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  2. After reading your post, I checked my Akismet thingie and there were 9 spam comments there. I think it had been about a week since I last checked, so I guess my blog doesn’t get enough traffic to gain the attention of the big-time spammers. I have noticed, though, that at least several times a week, what are obvious spam comments do make it past the Akismet filter and get into my comments section. I manually remove them as soon as I see them.

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    • I’ve been seeing more and more of that recently and I worry about them because a bad virus can just take a whole site down. And my standard anti-virus tools don’t do much on the site, because it’s not on my computer — it’s a cloud, you see … and it has its “own” cleaner. I’ve got a LOT invested in this site.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. For a time, I wondered what was the point of a lot of the crap that shows up in the spam folder. It’s all so nonsensical. But the goal is not the content. It’s a backlink.

    When you comment on someone’s WordPress site, it secures a backlink to your own website. That’s good for SEO and free.

    So far, WordPress has been really good with catching all my spam. Every now and again, an innocent comment gets tossed in there and I have to remove it, but that hasn’t happened recently.

    The people WordPress doesn’t always catch though are the ones who say “great post, can you take a look at my website and tell me what you think?”. Many users don’t think of this as spam, but it is. They’re posting tonnes of theses comments, including a link, and diverting traffic away from the original post. I usually edit those comments and remove the link, or just trash or spam the whole thing. A lot of links like that on your website is good for their SEO, but bad for yours. Comments (without links) are good for both.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I rarely look at the Spam folder unless I’m looking for the really weird stuff I can mock, but you got me to check and I see 133 “comments” there (Most wanting me to buy Levitra), which is more than usual. All comments in the Spam folder are supposed to be deleted automatically after two weeks, and they’re harmless as long as they stay there so there isn’t really a need to delete them manually. The ones that get through still get sent to my pending comments folder since my blog will only automatically post comments from those with email addresses it recognizes. They show up in my handy dandy notifications list in orange. Most of the time, they’re legitimate first time commenters. Sometimes, it’s people clearly trolling for follows who will never visit my blog again (I never give them the link exposure they so seek). And occasionally it’ll be the weird semi-Spam comment that isn’t as obvious as the junk Akismet does catch, but definitely isn’t on the up and up…

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  5. The spammers are always finding ways to get around the filters, therefore the wave sensations. they do new, filters fix, they find new, filters chase. The value: the counts they get to ‘sell’ somewhere; the links they get, ditto. anytime you get a ‘thing’ (not caught by the folders) that’s suspicious, report it as potential spam. If it’s not, they’ll (the site owner/Wordpress) will sort it, because if it’s a spammer, they don’t care and won’t try to contact WP or defend their site.

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    • I so the best I can. IF it comes through gmail, I bounce it back. Most of this stuff just comes directly into the site, so there’s nowhere to report it except WordPress. They need to open up a reporting bay for emails that are sneaking through. They currently don’t have one. Askimet has been very good to date, but it seems to falling behind now.

      I seem to have managed to delete/remove/spam everything I could find and right now, I’m about as clean as you get. There were dozens of “followers” planted. You can’t control followers, either. If they come through gmail, I send them back as suspicious, but as often as not, I don’t see them until they are in the fold, so to speak.

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      • I have ‘removed’ a few fake followers. In ‘Followed Sites’ ‘Manage’ – but I try to only remove the ones I know for sure are plants – usually easy enough to pick when you look at their gravatar. Usually.

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        • When you find yourself with two dozen floor sanding companies and and equal number of cheap insurance company sites … not to mention “value cheap cell phones” — all of those are fake. Every one of them. They are not followers. They are spammers.

          Liked by 1 person

      • Whoops! Got that wrong – that was for the sites I follow! It’s on ‘my site ‘ People – Followers (or something like that). Apologies; I’ll be quiet now, go and hide in a little box with my head in first.

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  6. My blog isn’t as popular as yours (thank goodness!), so I only had one spam — which I found before reading your post. And it was in my pending comments. I recognized the translated, nonsensical, broken English with the link at the end and deleted it immediately. I haven’t seen a spike in these lately, but I’ll keep a lookout. I did check and there’s nothing in my spam folder.

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    • Good for looking. This has all happened with a big spike in hits from google all over the globe. Honestly, I don’t even know what happened because the posts are getting about the same number of hits they’ve been getting all year … on October 9, my hits from Google went up several hundred percent so while the regular posts are pretty normal, the overall hits on the site are up by 50%. The activity is all on archived material. Along with it came this mountain of spam. Why? NO idea. I didn’t do anything. It just sort of happened.

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  7. Seems like there’s an epidemic of hacks and attacks lately. The badguys are always finding new ways in intrude and steal. I use MacAfee – seems to catch most everything. But something got through recently and I couldn’t even delete it. I do download stuff, so it’s always risky.

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    • I think you’re right. This was an absolute flood. I had to deal with it. I’m glad I did. So far, the mess has not returned. I’m hoping getting rid of the spammers on my followers list was the solution, but I’m going to have to keep my eyes on that list and make sure it doesn’t happen again. I don’t download stuff almost ever, but a blog is an opening.

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  8. Akismet tells me it blocked 475 spam this month ( from 200 ham comments). Only 60 or so were actually in my spam folder in the wordpress admin dashboard and i deleted them – WP only let me delete 20 ( a page) at a time as a bulk action. What happened to the other 415 or so? – no idea?

    My spam has increased over the last 6 months – roughly in line with readership/commenting rates.

    As long as you don’t click any spam i don’t think they do any harm when they stay in the spam folder. 🙂

    love

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    • I’m not nearly as sure as you are about that. You can increase the size of the download (50 is as good as I’ve gotten) and you should find your missing spam. It isn’t gone. It’s somewhere and leaving it lying around is not a good idea.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have 2 dashboards on WP, the ‘new’ one (last 3-4 years?) as well as the classic. Both tell me i have 0 spam. i have had 7 new spam since i sen this thread yesterday (up to 482 now) which i did not delete yet they are not in spam now? Nor Trash nor pending. both show as 0.

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          • It seems weird to me – i know i could see 60 or so of the 482 i have received this month alone and was able to delete those 60 but the 7 new ones i have not seen and cannot find and i don’t recall deleting the other 400 or so any time this month? strange!

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              • That makes sense – i seem to recall a long time ago setting something for delete after two weeks? which would explain why yesterday i had only 60 i could see. But then where did the most recent 7 go?
                WordPress should be renamed WeirdPress! 😉

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