Wot no spam?

Graph showing drop in spam levels since Aug 2010

It was reported last week that there had been a substantial drop in the level of spam on the net since last August and a precipitous drop since Christmas, which a Symantec analyst put down to a drop in output from three major “botnets” (networks of compromised computers, which may include your Windows home computer). Graham Cluley of Sophos suggests that Spamit, the major supplier of spam to one of the botnets, which used to be responsible for a lot of the pharmaceutical spam, has shut down. The BBC has a graph (above, source here) showing a persistent downward trend since August, with two sharp dips in September and another in November, and another sharp drop in December which has so far not “recovered”.

This may well be true of email spam, although I don’t see much of it anyway on my web host’s email; perhaps it’s because it gets caught upstream (I get plenty on Yahoo and Hotmail). It definitely isn’t true of comment spam on this blog. In the last few weeks I have seen an explosion of it, with as much spam in an hour as I used to have to clear out in the morning. What this often means is that it takes too long to go through them and find the genuine comments, which is what I was able to do when I only got 60 or 80 spams a night — now, I get 200 or more a lot of the time, and more during the day which I could clear out every few hours. These days, I look at a couple of pages of it, and then click “empty spam” and just have to hope I haven’t deleted any real comments.

I can now see the attraction of using a hosted blogging service like LiveJournal or Blogger; I find their comment systems somewhat irritating — they don’t always allow you to sign with your name and website as you can here or on wordpress.com, and the OpenID authentication does not always work properly (when I signed with my TypeKey ID, it would be displayed using a string of letters and numbers rather than my actual username). However, if you can sign with a website that the site does not recognise (i.e. one of their own), you can sign with a spam site. Of course, I will not be moving my blog over to one of them, having asked readers for help with the hosting bills, but if it weren’t for Akismet, I’d not have the open comments system on here that I have; I simply could not afford the time to wade through it all.

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