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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

There’s a Sucker Bjorn Every Minute

I have a spammer. A Swedish spammer.

I’m not sure the distinction is especially important. If it were a masseuse, then clearly a Swede would be better. Or a chef. At least, if the chef was also a Muppet. Obviously. Or a bikini team.

Unless those were also Muppets. Then the Swedishness is probably not so important.

But a spammer? I don’t know.

Just about a year ago, I pretty much eliminated random auto-spam comment crap here on the site. I tried third-party filters, but the crap oozed through. I tried integrated modules; still a trickle of crap flowed in. So I took matters into my own hands, and dug into the comment code myself.

Naturally, that broke the whole damned thing. The crap stopped. And so did everything else. I’m lucky I didn’t catch the damned server on fire.

But! I kept at it, tinkered and retinkered, and finally I had it. Through a series of checks and clever deductions — which I can’t actually remember at this point, because it happened longer than twelve minutes ago and I have the memory of a half-witted drunken pomeranian — I managed to shut out automated comment spam, for good.

Also, because I’m ridiculously stubborn at making life harder for myself than it really needs to be, I did it without introducing any new user-facing doohickeys or restrictions. No extra accounts to sign up for. No CAPTCHAS. No shutting down comments after a week or a month. No “Add 6 + 14 and write the fourteenth word on page 319 of War and Peace in the space below to prove you’ve got a heartbeat”. Because this shouldn’t be any harder on the commenters, I decided for no especially good reason.

(Particularly considering that there aren’t any commenters, much, in the first place. I think my Italian-gone-Belgian friend is the only one whose left an actual comment in the past six months or more.

Still, it’s possible. Comments work. And no auto-spam. I’m calling it a success — and assuming that no one is actually trying to comment in the meantime. Or reading. Or paying any attention at all.

It’s a fairly loose definition of “success”, when you get right down to it. Welcome to my world.)

“You don’t need a Turing test to tell the flesh and blood dickbags from the spamputers. It’s pretty obvious.”

So, auto-spam is kaput. But occasionally — very occasionally — some slack-jawed weenie will get into his head to manually visit the site and drop a steaming loaf of gibberish and a fake email address and links to the porn site or peener pill or get-rich scheme du jour.

I can tell that these are actual hits to the site, rather than an evil autobot scheme to hork up the interwebs, because I can see the records in my server logs. A click on the page, a hop to the comments, and a real, live form submission, honest-to-heavens button click and all.

The spambots don’t work that way. They have some sort of hive-mind interface that picks out comment pages to sully. It looks different. I don’t want to give away the secret, lest the Matrix retool itself to more effectively annoy us. But trust me. You don’t need a Turing test to tell the flesh and blood dickbags from the spamputers. It’s pretty obvious.

I haven’t had a human — or, let’s be honest, a knuckle-dragging subhuman — spammer in quite a while. Weeks, or maybe months. But last night, I got two comments on years-old posts, within a few minutes of each other. I checked the logs, and sure enough, I could trace them to a user session. A session originating from “PRQ Internet KB”, situated in lovely, chilly, and evidently somewhat-spammy Sweden.

I was surprised. I expect this from the Russians. Or Nigerian royalty, of course. But the Swedes? I guess life isn’t just meatballs and Ikeas over there, either. Slime oozes to fill any void.

Happily, removing the offending spamments takes less time than whatever Scandinavian scumpot is using to leave them. When a comment comes, I get an email. If it’s fishy — see, see, Swedish fishy, ohyeahiwentthere — there’s a link right at the bottom of the mail I can click to flush it away. Two seconds. Less, now that I know just to scan the details for Swedy McSwederspam’s telltale IP.

I got three more hits — and comments — today. The nice thing about actual people leaving this junk is that they have to look, at some point. They have to check the old posts they’ve hit, to make sure their filthy fingerprints are still plastered thereon. That the “work” they’re doing isn’t just vanishing into the ether, once they’ve identified a seemingly-exploitable hole.

Alternatively, the manual comment-leaving is a test of said hole, to make sure the bots have a crack to jam a hose into, so they can spew their greasy spam slop all over the site.

Either way, they’ll be sorely disappointed. The crack is shut. The exploitable, not. The proverbial cake, made in this case of spam and frosted with filth, is a lie.

So spam on, little Swedish fish. You’ve taken five shots at it. Most of your kind don’t last even this long kicking the bear before they move on, presumably, to somewhere less bear-like for kicks. Maybe you’re not so easily convinced. Maybe Swedish determination is stronger than others.

But probably, you’re just an idiot. So shove a meatball up it, spamwad, and jump off a fjord. Parting is such Swede sorrow.

Permalink  |  1 Comment

One Response to “There’s a Sucker Bjorn Every Minute”

  1. Elisson says:

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