Quit Ruining the Internet

I do a lot of website administration activities using my phone, the lovely Evo 4G from Sprint. A while back I took the advice of my friend Nick Altrup from 417 Marketing and stopped moderating my comments. This has opened my site up to potential spammers, but I’ve taken steps to prevent bots from spamming me. However, if a person chooses to spam me, they are now able to do so, and their worthless waste of Internet will now appear on my site for a few seconds until I get the email from WordPress, realize the comment is spam, and then list it as such from my phone. I’m not going to put up with spam on my site if I can avoid it, and I’ll go round and round with a spammer all day if I have to. Today I had to.

I was at Gladstone Dodge getting my car serviced this morning, and starting around 7:50 this morning, this punk started spamming my site. First he (could be a she, but I’m going to blame a man) posted about 4 links to something called soma. I didn’t know what that was, but I’m pretty sure it didn’t have anything to do with Why I Use Linux, which is the page this guy is assaulting. Over the next hour, this clown posted 25 spam comments that I have had to moderate from my phone because I couldn’t find a more permanent solution to keeping this trash off my site.  I don’t care about your soma, casinos, versace hand bags, cartier sunglasses, or herpes simplex 1 medications.  Keep that trash off of my site!

Once I got home, I started looking for a way to block this guy’s IP address, which is 89.248.168.40. If you’re someone that knows how to punish someone electronically based on their IP address, have at this guy, because he deserves it. I know that if I could, I would.

First I tried to look up on Google how to block an IP address from accessing my site. I saw a lot of stuff about editing the .htaccess file, but I couldn’t find a way to do that which I could understand. It looked as though there was no way to do this from within the confines of WordPress, and I couldn’t get anywhere on my Dreamhost administration page either. So I abandoned this track for now.

I decided to gather some intel on my foe. I looked up his IP address, and it says he’s from the Netherlands. Since my last name is Hollander, I get a lot of traffic from the Netherlands, at least I assume that’s the correlation. See below for a little geographical information. If you recognize those street names, and you happen to be in the Netherlands and might know this guy, feel free to drop in on him and ask him to stop his spamming ways. If his computer has become a spam bot and is somehow getting past my web countermeasures, erase his hard drive.

Maybe this guy is using XP Professional, Vista Business/Ultimate, or 7 Professional/Ultimate, I thought to myself. I decided to try to remote desktop into his computer and delete some files from the system folder or something. No luck using rdesktop, but I’ve had luck randomly attempting to rdesktop people before.

So I went back to WordPress, and the obvious solution presented itself. I just went to settings → Discussion → Comment Black List, and I added his IP address. This isn’t the perfect solution I would have hoped for, because this guy’s waste is still spilling into my spam comments section, but at least I don’t have to personally deal with it each time. He’s up to 29 comments now. In fact, he accounts for more than 25% of all the spam coming to my site since I created it, and I’m sure the percentage will rise. A new one shows up every 3-4 minutes. I guess this guy must be a bot, which is frustrating because I thought I had plugged the hole on spam bots, so I’ll have to revisit that issue.

Now to Jump on a Soapbox

The Internet is probably the greatest human achievement. Everything that ever has been is accessible from the Internet. What an amazing repository of knowledge. And some of you out there insist on filling it up with stupid crap. Something like 90% of emails are spam. There are hundreds of thousands of essentially fake websites posing as real websites to trick people into clicking on affiliate marketing and advertisement links. I have in the past considered setting up such websites, a la programs such as Niche Blitzkrieg. But I decided not to, because I love what the Internet stands for, and I don’t want to make my living by preying on the stupid, even if it is easy to do. Some senior citizen surfing the web using Internet Explorer 5.0 lands on a fake website, clicks up a bunch of advertisement links, and makes a purchase off of an affiliate link, and we all die a little more inside. Please leave the Internet pure.

I Would Rather Win the Nigerian Lottery…

…Than deal with all your spam comments on my site. Spam ruins a good website. I used to go to Maximum PC all the time, but then I realized that literally all of the comments were spam, and it turned me off. Spammers ruined my experience of that website, and poor site administration didn’t help.

Spammers are pathetic in their attempt to entice people, and yet it works or they wouldn’t keep doing it. Here is a sampling of some of the spam I’ve received in the last month and a half (by the way that dude from the Netherlands is up to 33 spam comments now).

"Rattling Fresh"?

You've been looking for KC/Springfield comparisons for hours? Really?

Icons? What are you talking about?

You "determined" my site? Don't try to sound like you know English.

You feel strongly about android tethering? Headway noesis?

What indeed

Flattery will get you everywhere...except my comments page

An exact copy? Say it ain't so!

Nice Excerpt

Try checking that oh-so-surreptitious link in your comment.

Yeah, I'm a real web Michelangelo when it comes to android tethering

Help Me Out

If you can explain to me how to access the .htaccess file, please let me know in the comments below. I’m not my own web server, I’m using Dreamhost to host my site. Do you have any other strategies for dealing with spammers? How can I let this guy know his computer has been taken over?  (The spammer is now up to 42 comments).

11 Comments

  1. Very is good to understand your think. To bad is my own thinking as also. I have become to inspired by the issue you right aboutt. Keep up the work good!

    • Just be glad I didn’t add you to my blacklist, which now includes about 80 spammers.

      This sounds exactly like a spam comment, although the source is from South Carolina instead of Africa or Europe.

  2. open notepad type this upload with ftp. sometimes you have to rename it as ftp tends to add stuff. Dreamhost may not let you do this (I don’t know much about them). But Host Gator would let you.

    I doubt I would bother I can change ips quicker then you could block them. I used to ban whole countries on my site along with redirect them for fun.. You really don’t know what ip he is using… Just like you don’t know mine 🙂 ..

    .htaccess

    Order Deny,Allow
    Deny from 89.248.168.40

  3. Russ I too receive the occasional bit of spam on my site. It does not get through because I mod all comments. Even though it goes against some beliefs I stuck with this method. I am liberal on what I will let others post but spam I will not tolerate.
    Great Job!
    Glenn Kirk
    MidwestGSM

  4. In the beginning I modded all my comments, and it’s really not too hard to do from a smart phone, but once I started publishing my articles on other sites, it became a little impractical. I’ll let people get away with a lot of stuff too, although there isn’t much to get away with so far on my site. I just hate the obvious blatant spam that isn’t even trying to hide what it is. How is the spammer even making money anymore? Is anybody even clicking on spam links in this day in age? I guess it wouldn’t keep happening if people weren’t making money off of it.

  5. I wish I would have seen this post sooner. Better late than never!

    I think you are doing the right thing Russell. While I can certainly see both sides to the issue, I believe that encouraging user participation via comments is the first, second, and third priority of any blog. If we have to deal with spammers as a result…oh well. Just my $.02.

    Having said that, I haven’t had many (maybe 3-4) instances of spammers actually getting through Askimet. When they do, I delete them and mark them as spam.

    I do, however, get about 50-100 spam comments a day. I don’t even read them anymore. I just login and click “empty spam.” Done. In my mind, a small price to pay for not making my readers go through the moderation/CAPTCHA process.

    I’ll add this as well. I know that I (and others) recommended Dreamhost when you started this blog, but I’ve since moved on. Around fall/early winter 2010, Dreamhost started making me angry with very slow load times. If you aren’t using Google’s Webmaster tools yet, please do. And check out your load times.

    Since dealing with this frustration (and the lack of a complete CPanel), I’ve made the switch to Host Gator. In fact, I’m a reseller. I host 6 client websites at the present moment. I could not be happier with them. In addition to their outstanding CPanel and tech support, it is an extremely profitable addition to my business model. That, and as I add hosting customers, it adds a solid recurring revenue stream to my company.

    Great post, as always.

  6. Oh..and BIG THANK YOU for the link to my site. I really appreciate that.

  7. Jean Bolger

    02/09/2011 at 22:31

    Yes! I found your post after raving to myself about all the useless shit my queries were turning up and then entering a google search for “affiliate marketing is ruining the web”. Can no-one stop these penny grubbing zombies?

    • Jean,

      What shocks me the most is that these people must be making money on their affiliate sites, or they wouldn’t keep putting them up, which means that lots of people out there don’t realize the difference between a real website and a fake one that’s just a front for affiliate links. It’s a sad state of affairs.

      Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.

      -Russell

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