Comment spam in WordPress

Something that shocked me when I first started blogging was the existence of “comment spam.” I had no idea that spam existed outside the world of emails. But then, every day there’s roughly 50 comments for my blog that aren’t real comments from real people.

They have different levels of sophistication, too. The simplest ones are just extensive lists of URLs for places to buy drugs online. Those are easy to pick out.

However, the majority of them look, at first glance, like an actual comment. They don’t have any links in the body of the comment, and many of them just have (usually) flattering but unspecific comment.

For example:

Essentially, the article is actual the sweetest on this noteworthy issue. I consent with your consequences and will eagerly look forward to your next updates. With your authorization allow me to grab your feed to be up to speed with future articles. Thank you a million and please keep up the fabulous activity.

This is an actual comment spam that is pretty typical of a lot of spams that I receive. And of course, there would be a link to some site that they would put in the “website” field, so that they can get some links from my blog to theirs. (Being linked to gives one a higher spot in Google search results, and of course just makes it more likely that someone will click the link in error, which is why there’s so much spam of this type.)

Then, there are also comment spams that are just weird or ungrammatical:

I not to mention my guys were found to be looking at the good hints located on your web blog and so immediately got a horrible feeling I had not expressed respect to the web site owner for those secrets. My young boys appeared to be totally stimulated to see all of them and now have certainly been using these things. Thanks for truly being really thoughtful and for making a decision on this kind of important guides millions of individuals are really desirous to understand about. My honest apologies for not saying thanks to you sooner.

My temptation is to remove the back-links, but keep the vague and flattering comments and respond to them all as if I actually believed that these spammers found my website helpful in such a nonspecific way.

Here’s an interesting and somewhat related question:

Recently, I went to my (actual, physical) mailbox in my apartment, and found an unsolicited print advertisement had been delivered there. I took it out, and remarked to my friend that I had only received spam. At that point, we both wondered whether something can be spam if it is in print, or if that appellation is suited only for emails? Can I get spam by post?

Which is worse?

Velociraptor on a bicycle
Velociraptor on a bicycle

Which is worse? A velociraptor on a bicycle or a bear with an automobile?

And yes, there is a correct answer.

I asked Pickles, and she says, “They are both unimaginable evils.”

Four points to whoever makes the most persuasive argument. If you can also give a feasible plan for escaping a bicyclic velociraptor or automotive bear, you will also have the satisfaction of probably having saved us all.

"Who's been driving in my car?"
"Who's been driving in my car?"

McGill University’s website

Check out the latest XKCD comic. Let’s use this comic to evaluate McGill’s front page,

Things that the XKCD comic says will be on a typical university’s front page:

  • Campus photo slideshow … ✓
  • Alumni … ✓
  • Events … ✓
  • Press releases … ✓
  • School’s philosophy … sort of, if you count the summary in the footer
  • Letter from the president … ✓
  • Virtual tour … no
  • Full name of the school … ✓

Things that the XKCD comic says that people will be looking for on a typical university’s website:

  • Faculty contacts … no
  • Campus address … ✓
  • Application forms … there’s a link to a page about it (half points)
  • Academic calendar … I have no idea where to find one of those for McGill, and I’ve been a student there for over a year. I’m serious about this. I have no idea how to find out when Reading Week is, officially. Last year, I found out by looking on the McGill Student Union’s site for the week in February when it wasn’t offering any programmes or services.
  • Campus police phone number …no
  • Department/course lists … no
  • Parking information … no
  • Usable campus map … such a thing does not exist at McGill. And yes, I’m aware of this map – it is unusable. Try to find the Bioethics Unit on there without cheating.

Looks like the XKCD cartoon gives a pretty much accurate assessment of McGill’s front page.

If we compare this to the front page of UWO, my alma mater, UWO does slightly better, but not because they have anything more useful on their site. They just don’t have the campus slideshow or letter from the president.

I’m tempted to email this comic to McGill Communications Services, but I don’t want to be a jerk.