Spam, technology and a bloody tough week

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

A broken and twisted Movable Type keyring It’s the end of a long working week, one that has been dominated by behavioural problems masquerading as technical ones. We’ve had a number of very intense spam attacks on our blog farm here, and it’s taken both a number of technical efforts (including blocking certain IPs at a server level) as well as some educational ones to start turning back the tide.

The key problem underlying the general peaks and troughs of comment spam was this:

  1. Blogger doesn’t actively manage their comments
  2. Large volumes of spam get published on their blog
  3. System “learns” that those spam comments are OK.
  4. Volume of spam increases as we become known amongst spammers as a good bet
  5. Other journalists get more comment spam
  6. Another journalist gives up managing their comments
  7. Go to 2…

We’ve made some setting changes to break the cycle, and I have some education work to do (I’ve discovered quite a few journalists unaware that they can manage comments en masse from their blog dashboard, thinking that it all had to be done from notification e-mails), but it still frustrates me that there’s a significant subset of our journalists who, while their blogging, don’t see interacting with their commenters as part of their jobs. And we don’t have any blogs that get the sort of comment volumes that mainstream newspaper politics blogs get (for example). Even our biggest blogs have comments well within the range of a moderately successful personal blog.

As ever, the hardest part of this change is found in that nasty little place when technology limitations butt up against resistance to cultural change.

And on that cheerful note – have a good weekend. 🙂

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blog platformschange managementculture changespamtechnology

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.