Shutting Down Spammers — Every Message, Every Day

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spam-keybd.jpg(photo credit: PC Sightings)
Dear Readers and Spammers of The Washington Note:
Behind the scenes of the mostly pleasant, civil, constructive discussions that simmer in the comments section of the blog is a hard fought war against spammers.
Nearly every day, a couple of trusted colleagues of mine and I troll through the comments to remove the ads for handbags, gold, watches, and travel that agencies from various spots in Asia, Russia, Arkansas, and Tennessee (yep, I know you are there folks). Some of these ads are designed to look like responses to other posts. Some of them are down right crude and pornographic. Some have implied violence towards other commenters and those who have published on the blog. Some commit serious slander.
But the problem is controlled. Every day, someone is taking the time to enter the captcha requirement — manually — to post this material. And every day, your work will be undone, deleted, and the ISP from whence you operate will be banned. So, up to you.
I want to post this note, because it’s clear to me and my other editors that the anger and frustration of these mostly thwarted spammers is rising as the level of personal attack on some of us has intensified. We can’t always get these comments removed immediately as we are not watching the blog every moment.
Thus — to all other readers — when you see something beyond the innocuous advertisement that really turns your stomach, zap us a note. And to other commenters, please remember that debate is great. Ad hominem attacks are not. Anything that goes over the line will be removed if we see it — or if we receive a complaint.
All best,
Steve Clemons

Comments

10 comments on “Shutting Down Spammers — Every Message, Every Day

  1. Required says:

    POA… and Dan Kervick: indeed, “fb” does refer to Facebook. The following JavaScript is invoked:
    http://connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js
    Within that VERY lengthy script is [I include just a snippet here]:
    “…Fragment:{_magic:’fb_xd_fragment’,checkAndDispatch:function(){var b=window.location.toString()…”

    Reply

  2. Mr.Murder says:

    No reference of the Monty Pyhthon skit? Foolish me, Tony Blair is retired from being a war criminal these days.
    He’s probably on the lecture/venture capitalism trail, channeling his inner Kissinger, for fun and profit.

    Reply

  3. Dan Kervick says:

    “On closer examination, it isn’t “fp”, its “fb”.”
    Ah, then I think that probably refers to Facebook. It must have something to do with the new Facebook integration with TWN.

    Reply

  4. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Well, Ben, if they need to be rewarded for SOMETHING, you’ve hit upon the most reasonable excuse. I’ve tried SPAM, and rewarding them for manufacturing that cullinary WMD is completely and utterly out of the question. In fact, they should be rounded up and arrested for such a terrorist act.

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Negative, Dan. I clicked out of TWN, and clicked back in. On closer examination, it isn’t “fp”, its “fb”. Odd, I have no idea whats going on. But its truly a bummer, as it is extremely time consuming and cumbersome to load TWN. Maybe thats the idea. I’m hoping Steve will query his techies.

    Reply

  6. Ben Rosengart says:

    Steve, a couple of notes from one who has fought spam for a
    living (though I am currently out of that game).
    First, just because a comment is unwanted does not make it
    spam. Spam is unsolicited *bulk* communication — by
    definition, it can’t be delivered by hand.
    Second, do not assume that CAPTCHAs are 100% effective.
    Many types of CAPTCHA have been defeated algorithmically.
    Spammers also do a very clever trick wherein they offer porn to
    web surfers willing to solve a CAPTCHA for them. The
    CAPTCHA is taken from a site such as yours, and once it’s
    solved, the spammer can spam the site. This process is
    automated — the only human involvement is at the web surfer’s
    end.
    Finally, a word about trademarks. Hormel has been remarkably
    understanding about the use of their trademark to describe
    unwanted communication. Their only request has been that we
    use “spam” to describe the ads and other junk, and reserve the
    all-caps “SPAM” for their fine meat product. The image at the
    top of this post could be seen as going against their request. I
    don’t think this is a big deal, but I do like to be respectful of
    Hormel’s request, because I appreciate their reasonableness and
    want to reward it.

    Reply

  7. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Interesting theory, Dan. I’ll check it out.

    Reply

  8. Dan Kervick says:

    POA, I wonder if “fp” in that message refers to the Foreign Policy website. Could it be the link to the video stream from the Miller-Levy-Malley panel discussion that is slowing things down?

    Reply

  9. Steve Clemons says:

    POA — you mostly observe the rules, so I give you more license
    than most….but when I am trying to set a tone, don’t set out to
    undermine me at the onset. Thanks much,
    Steve

    Reply

  10. PisdsedOffAmerican says:

    “And to other commenters, please remember that debate is great. Ad hominem attacks are not. Anything that goes over the line will be removed if we see it — or if we receive a complaint”
    Well, if I’m not rocking the boat, pissing off some people, and upsetting the blog racists enough to illicit a “complaint” or two, then my technique needs some honing.
    I hope that receiving a “complaint” is not a solely sufficient reason for wielding the ax. But if so, have I mentioned how much Fill-In-The-Blank’s hasbarist horseshit pisses me off???

    Reply

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