Recently, a small number of our customers noticed an influx of spam comments being submitted to their blogs. This is an unusual but unfortunately not unique situation. The uptick is reflective of the constant struggle against spammers faced by any individual or business on the Internet.
This post is designed to give you a little insight into spam and detail our latest efforts to minimize the inconvenience spammers pose to our customers.
How big is the spam problem overall?
According to some reports, spam - irrelevant or inappropriate messages sent on the Internet to a large number of recipients - accounts for upwards of 80% of all emails and nearly 5% of total Internet traffic. Spam is as pervasive as it is annoying, so having a solid strategy in place for dealing with spam is essential.
Why don't spam filters always block all spam?
Email providers, like Google, Yahoo! and Microsoft, and blog platforms like Wordpress and our own Movable Type, employ advanced algorithms to detect and block spam. Though these businesses (including FindLaw) go to great lengths to filter out spam comments, spammers unfortunately respond by figuring out how to get around those filters.
This cycle is unfortunately not entirely avoidable, even with the best enterprise-level platform. However, with the latest technology enhancement, we can now add a feature to our blogs to better prevent spam.
What is FindLaw doing to battle spam?
FindLaw will shortly implement CAPTCHA technology on every blog. CAPTCHAs are images that display letters and/or numbers that a person can read but a machine cannot (at least not without difficulty). When a comment is left on your blog post, these letter/number combinations must be typed in by the blog reader to prove that he or she is indeed a human and not a computer spam system.
While not totally foolproof, this should dramatically reduce the likelihood of receiving computer-generated spam, which is the type most likely to result in a dramatic increase in blog comment notification emails to you.
That being said, if in the future you notice a significant uptick in comments to your blog and those comments are obviously spam, please reach out to your account manager, who can implement temporary restrictions on readers' ability to comment.
Should you be worried about spam comments?
On the whole, spam comments are an annoyance but do not pose a risk to your blog's security. Please remember that when any type of comment is submitted, it does not appear on your blog until approved by you.
All comments are stored in a moderation queue where you will need to log into your Publisher site and determine if you would like to publish a comment, edit it or delete it. You can also report the comment as spam and it will move to the spam folder and will be deleted after 14 days.
These comments in the moderation queue are not visible to blog readers or the search engines. To reiterate, they generally do not pose a security risk; however, we highly recommend marking any suspicious comment as spam, since doing so can better enable our filters to detect and block similar messages in the future.
For those customers who received a significant number of spam comments between August 31st and September 4th, we will systematically delete all the comments that were received during this timeframe. This should make it easier for those customers to moderate actual reader comments without having to filter out and "mark as spam" any unsolicited, unwanted messages.