Note to Our Readers

This is also being posted in PHOTO Notes, as a follow-up to earlier entries here on this subject. Earlier this week we had to turn off Comments. We were hit by a baffling graffiti-spam two days in a row, where a person or bot (not sure which) posts links to objectionable sites. They are offensive and unwelcome, easily deleted, but otherwise harmless.

We were not sure at first why we were targeted. We discovered the problem is as old as interactive web pages, and the purpose is to raise the Google ranking of the offensive sites. Click “Continue Reading” to find out more about this bottom-feeder phenomenon.

We apologize to our readers for any concern this may have caused. We’ve since taken reasonable additional steps to prevent posting of a known collection of objectionable links. We’ll gradually open up Comments to recent postings, although (author’s message) not enough of you were using them.

Please note that, at this point, we have not installed a cuss words filter here (we do have one). There are many cuss words that have perfectly inoffensive non-slang meanings. At some point, common sense has to prevail. When it does not, those of us with authorship privileges can always delete inappropriate comments with the click of a button.

In the continuation page of this article, you can read what a notable authority, Jay Allen of MT-Blacklist, has to say about this phenomenon.

Jay Allen’s comments from the MT-Blacklist User guide:

Why MT-Blacklist works
Many blacklists fail because they focus on moving or mutable targets (e.g. IP addresss, keywords, SMTP relays, etc). MT-Blacklist works because it focuses on one that is far more difficult to change and is in fact, the most important part of the spam: the spamvertised URL.

This is the spammer’s weak point. Unlike email spam, the motivation is not to sell you or your visitors anything or even to get you to click on their links. The most solid theory for why comment spamming exists and what makes the battle against it very different from the previous scourges is that by placing links all over the web, spammers increase the Google PageRank for the sites they are hawking.

In order for this scheme to work, the links must be published on as many sites as possible for as long of a time as possible, but at least long enough for the Googlebot to see them. This is where MT-Blacklist’s Search and De-spam mode comes into play. MT-Blacklist makes it terribly easy to recover very quickly from even the most intense spam attack with almost no effort, rewarding the spammer with no extra Google juice. Furthermore, for efficiency reasons, spammers tend to put twenty to thirty URLs in each comment but it takes only one known URL to block it.

By using MT-Blacklist, you effectively shift the burden, in terms of both time and cost, onto the spammers which is the only way to win the war.

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