Terry Zink's Cyber Security Blog

Discussing Internet security in (mostly) plain English

Comment spam: Spammers vs morons

Comment spam: Spammers vs morons

  • Comments 11

This post is a bit of a rant.

On this particular blog, all of my commenters are quite intelligent.  You all provide good content and I try my best to respond to most of the comments.  The times I don't is because the connection screws up and times out and my comments don't get posted (this is very annoying to me).  I then forget to go back and later repost my response to your response.  Because my readership is not very large, I would say I attract a user base that contains very few morons.  There will be more on the definition of that in a moment.

From time to time, spammers break through my antispam comment filtering and I get email feedback containing piles of spam.  In fact, the vast majority of my comments are spam but the software does a reasonable job of blocking it in the comments.  It does a less good job when they break into my email feedback mechanism, but it only breaks once in a while.  All in all, I can summarize this blog thusly: I get intelligent comments from posters and for the most part, the software blocks most of the spam.

The problem is that on other websites that get far more traffic, they invariably attract many more morons.  You know the type; go to Youtube and look at some of the clever videos.  Morons are the people who leave stupid comments like insults, poor grammar, or one-word nonsense remarks.  I can't believe how many morons leave comments on Youtube videos.

The dilemma is that technically these people aren't spammers but they add nothing of value.  I have a few videos up on Youtube and I've gotten morons commenting on them.  They aren't bots and their comments are not anymore unsolicited than friends who post positive comments.  However, as soon as I see their comments I delete them because there's no point in keeping them around.  If you're going to post something, make it useful.

Statistically, the wider the user base then the greater the likelihood of morons coming across stuff you (or I) have done.  Maybe sites like these should have another option.  In addition to "Report Spam" there should be a "Report Moron" button.

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  • Please add 7 and 8 and type the answer here:
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  • The internet is to morons what the nuthouse is to crazies.  If there were no internet, where would all the morons go?

  • LOL.

  • "zomg your a moran."

    ----

    But yes, I've felt the pain every now and then. Particularly because spammers often post one liners like "Nice post!!! I think it's right!" with a name or link back to their site.

    I'm always puzzled when I get similar comments but there's no obvious spam link.

  • The "Report Moron" button is an excellent suggestion and I'd be interested to hear more about it if you figure out a way this can be integrated into meetings and presentations to preempt the usual silly questions or comments :)

  • What I've seen becoming popular is the ability to mod comments up and down, and if enough people mod it down it becomes invisible by default. Of course this necessitates a login mechanism and a limit to how many times a person can mod comments down under the same post to prevent abuse, but it is satisfying to see things like "first post!!1!" modded down to non-existence.

  • I've seen a similar system implemented in other sites.  They use a sort of Karma based system where established users gain the ability to mod posts up or down.  Anything beneath a certain threshold is not displayed.  You can chose the threshold.  /. is a perfect example.

  • The idea of a distributed NNTP killfile or blog-posting filter based on the relative content-free-ness of posts isn't new, but it's hard to implement, since one man's Moran is another man's Congressman, especially here in northern Virginia.  

    Seriously: if you put a 'report moron' button in a newsreader, most of n.a.n-a.e would click it on Vernon Schryver's posts, creating exactly the opposite effect that you want - say what you will about Vernon, but he's definitely not a moron. You can't even use second-order effects, since morons will tend to agree with each other. I think you'd need to start with a base of people who aren't morons, and then add in the data provided by everyone they consider to be not-morons but weight everyone's score downwards the further they get from the original group, but possibly increasing the score weight later when their moron-judgment is shown to correlate with the baseline criteria for moron, that being "everybody calls you a moron".

    I'll submit a grant proposal in High-Energy Bogon Research.

  • Great post, really helped me understand, thanks!

  • Really simple guide, has given me an idea for a blog of my friends.

  • The thing is this just doesn't really do it for me, prefer something a little less... mainstream.

  • Spammers vs morons ? Is there a difference lol.

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