Blog comment spamming being outsourced to India

November 25th, 2006

As reported by Charles Arthur in The Guardian and subsequently on Slashdot, blog spammers are outsourcing the placement of comment spam to India and perhaps elsewhere.

“The other day, while administering the Free Our Data blog … I came across an unusual piece of comment spam – a remark left on one of the blog posts. … The surprise was that despite the automated defences to prevent such junk being posted by a machine, it had got through. … The electronic trail explained: the “captcha” … had been filled in. …. So who had done this? The junk filter had recorded their IP (internet) address. It resolved to somewhere in India. Which rang a bell: earlier this year, I spoke with someone who does blog spamming for a living – a very comfortable living, he claimed. But he said that the one thing that did give him pause was the possibility that rival blog spammers might start paying people in developing countries to fill in captchas: they could always use a bit of western cash, would have the spare time and, increasingly, cheap internet connections to be able to do such tedious (but paid) work”.

Our blog relies on Akismet to reject most of the spam comments and it does a great job. Anything that it doesn’t reject is left for us to moderate. In the last few months, we’ve noticed an increase in spam comments we believe to have been left by people, not machines. They are typically just a sentence or two and fairly general, yet still quite relevant to the meaning post. These are distinct from another common post-specific type of comment spam which seem to key off a key word in the post, such as mentioning Google and are undoubtedly automated.

The only way I can identify these as spam comments is that they (1) don’t add a very meaningful comment to the post and (2) the commenter’s URL points to what is clearly a commercial site unrelated to the post or comment.