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!


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Josh said:

Hey Brad. I'm enjoying the fact that you're posting more regularly. I've been stopping by off and on for a few years, usually to pick up MT plugins (Just rediscovered CalendarEx, btw--you really do have some great intuition for providing the tags that go beyond standard blog templates).

Your enthusiastic posts about the Wii are infectious; I'm starting to feel sold. Now if only they were actually available ;)

Take it easy.

Brad Author Profile Page said:

Thanks, Josh!

卖克老猪 said:

Thank you, Josh.

It is this plugin that i need most.Simple, yet useful. Author Profile Page said:

But what about which allows anyone to create a random openID mechanically?

Brad Author Profile Page said:

The current OpenID implementation for MT doesn't give you domain-level controls and which would let you allow/disallow access. However, with SpamLookup, I can easily block the entire domain from posting. Which, incidentally, I have.

ireneQ Author Profile Page said:

I'm sorry this is off-topic, but I couldn't find an email link on your blog. I recently left a comment on a friend's blog that runs on MT 3.34, and my comment was junked immediately because my domain is listed on

I'd like to know how I can get my domain off that list, because I'm running a blog and I've never, to my knowledge, spammed anybody. I'd be so glad if you could help. Thank you!

Bjr said:

Hi Bad. An off-topic question about permalinks. For several reasons I want to modify my archives structure to a different format. That include de base name for the individual articles. As far as you know, is there a samart way of ensure a redirection strategy to the new structure? I'm affraid of the impact of this changes in google page rank and the incomming generated by the site. Any advise is wellcome.


This article was published on January 7, 2007 6:00 PM.

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