Today, on the otherwise rational Net-Lawyers email list, people who I truly admire were sharing the time-consuming acrobatics that they are willing to go through in a fruitless attempt to stop comment spammers on their blogs.
Enough, I said. Let me take a mildly contrarian approach.
You can’t stay ahead of the spammers. They’ve now added Trackback spam to their repertoire. See, e.g., http://www.elise.com/mt/archives/000577trackback_spam.php.
I flat out don’t allow comments on my blog – sort of a tribute to Ronald Reagan’s famous “Mr. Green, I paid for this microphone” moment. The spammers have destroyed my use of my telephone with unsolicited calls, my email with barrage after barrage of messages, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay to give them a platform from which to destroy blogging for me, too. If they are going to destroy my blog experience, they are going to have to earn it the hard way. I’m not giving them an inch this time. As for pre-approving commenters, I’m not sure I understand why I need to do all the work – shouldn’t the spammers do all the work? That’s why they have rooms full of programmers in Eastern Europe working all day long for anyway. Let them pay the programmers to earn their pay instead of making me put together whitelists and other time-consuming temporary fixes. “Whitelists” baffle me in this context. There’s no way that I could have approved in advance comments from many of the bloggers I now count as friends.
And, blog comments would be just one more type of communication that I’d be late in responding too and never having the time to police. My hats off to the people who want to do the comment thing, but blog comments just seem like the worst of all possible worlds for me. People who have something to say to me about my blog can email me. If they have something they need to perform in public as a response, they can use their own blog and I’ll see it here. For other blogs I might do, comments might make sense, but this blog is the microphone I paid for. They can go ahead and send me regular spam or call me at home during dinner, if they want, and leave my blog alone.
Finally, I remain hopeful that Congress will soon approve the CAN COMMENT SPAM bill that should eliminate the entire problem.
By the way, to all the spam filter fans out there, thank you for your continuing efforts to endorse programs that further destroy the remaining utility of email. Today’s example, I look unprofessional for not turning in an article because someone’s spam filters blocked two emails I sent with the article attached. Welcome to 1980s email all over again – “Ring, ring. Just calling to see if you got the email I sent you.”
Shouldn’t this be our battle cry? “Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the spammers.”
For now, if you want to split the cost of my hosting fee, then we can talk about providing you a platform to spam and deface my blog. Until then, let’s just keep the microphone turned off.
In fairness to the spammers, however, I must admit that today I received a subject line that made me chuckle from Daniel Yankovic, a nom de plume of a spammer who apparently enjoys spoofing my email address. It said simply, “Pornstars use Cialis to stay hard.” In its own way, it struck me as the highest attainment of the spammer’s art and I fear that we face only a downward curve in spammer creativity after this point.