Those of you who don't run websites, forums, or blogs may be unaware of one of the most painful aspects of doing so. It turns out there are thousands of people (and more importantly computers) who like to take advantage of any possible method of getting their message and/or links in front of your eyes. They post on forums, pull emails from websites, and most importantly in my case, spam the comments section of any blog that allows it.
I enjoy the comments section of the blog. It's one of the best ways for readers to interact with me, and more importantly, each other. I still read every single comment posted on the blog (that doesn't end up in the spam filter.) However, I get two kinds of complaints from users. The first is that the spam filters aren't tight enough. Not only does this require me to delete each spam comment manually, but it also means if you are subscribed to a thread that all the spam comments on that thread go through to your email box. (Now you can see why internet trolls do such a thing.) The second problem is that the spam filters are too tight, and legitimate comments either get held for moderation (and thus slow down the conversation) or get put into the spam folder. People REALLY don't like that after typing out a lengthy, thoughtful comment. As my settings are currently set up, any post with the following words in it or with 2 or more links is automatically held for moderation:
The following words/phrases send a comment automatically to the spam folder (which I do NOT go through):
water on mars
Currency exchange rate
foreign exchange rates
Aside from these issues, my spam comment filter program, Akismet, also has its own black box protocols it uses in determining if a comment is spam or not. This is a serious issue in that I currently get about 1000 spam comments per week on the website and about 120 legitimate comments. I'd love to hear any unique solutions you may have to this issue, but as I see it now, the options to deal with this problem are limited to the following:
1) Turn off all comments
2) Turn off all comments on a post after a certain period of time – 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year etc. The longer the period, the more spam there is, but most spam is on older posts.
3) Continue to tweak the filters, but make them less restrictive so fewer comments are legitimately held.
4) Continue to tweak the filters, but make them more restrictive so fewer spam comments get emailed to thread subscribers.
5) Eliminate the subscribe to thread option (each user can obviously do this himself automatically).
6) Have users email me when a comment is inappropriately held. It's relatively easy to fish them out of the spam folder if I have a name or some other term I can use to search for the legitimate comment in there.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on any changes you would like to see to deal with this problem or any suggestions you have for eliminating words or adding words to the spam list. Take the poll or sound off in the comments section!