Another antispam strategy: no anonymous linking
I’m trying out a new anti-spam strategy on my blog. It’s no secret that the #1 reason for blog spam are links. Without a clickable link, what would be the point?
So I’ve taken a stab at making a new Movable Type plugin, called “URLess” which enforces the following policy:
- For unauthenticated comments (those sent without signing in through TypeKey or OpenID, etc.), links are not permitted— not in a “URL” field (which is now hidden until you sign in), nor within the text of the comment itself.
- Once someone signs in, they get a URL field and may also leave links within the comment text itself.
- Optionally, the plugin can be configured to only allow links for trusted authenticated commenters (trust status is assigned manually by the blog owner).
After enabling this policy, all blog spam has been trapped by it. I have received a couple of comments from people trying to provide links— they did so by removing the “http://” prefix, which is fine… the address is not linked automatically, although I can edit them to make them real links if I choose to do so.
But most valid comments are posted without links— they’re just voicing a response to what has been said. And while this prevents links from anonymous commenters, if someone really wants to share a link, they can just authenticate.
You can find this plugin here. The instructions for installing the plugin are available in the README.txt file included in the archive. You’ll have to tinker a bit with your templates to conditionally display/hide the URL field as necessary and the instructions cover that too. Believe me, it’s worth it.
With this policy in place, the only way to receive spam is:
- You get anonymous spam that contains no links, but has URL fragments, that the spammer (I guess) expects people to copy and paste to navigate to. Certainly, a search engine wouldn’t grok or follow links like this.
- You get spam from authenticated commenters. I’m sure there are a few TypeKey spammers out there, but not many. Fortunately, these are easy to ban and that will ban that identity permanently. You can also get their TypeKey account disabled if you report the abuse to Six Apart.
My hope is that this will prove effective enough for me to allow unmoderated commenting once again. Unfettered discussion is crucial to blogging.
Updated to fix the download link. Sorry!