Spam - The only way to win is not to play

I get a lot of spam.
Not emails though. Comments on this website!

I tried various ways of dealing with it, but last August I switched to using the free Spam filters from Defensio, who are owned by Websense so know a thing or two about dodgy web content...

It was actually a year ago today that I turned on that antispam system, so here's the stats...

Statistics since August 6, 2012 (366 days):

  • Total Checked: 7599 (avg: 20.76/day)
  • Total Spams: 6632 (avg: 18.12/day)
  • Total Hams: 967 (avg: 2.64/day)
  • Total False Negatives: 961 (avg: 2.63/day)
  • Total False Positives: 5 (avg: 0.01/day)

That might not seem like a lot, but this is a very quiet corner of the web. The only people that come here are my friends, and a few people who need vCardSplit.

I also post, shall we say, sporadically, so folks like Google and Bing aren't terribly fussed about me. It's likely to look about the same next time they drop by...

So 20 comments a day is a pretty high volume. High enough that I find it a burdensome little chore to clean up the false negatives... (And I’d rather have false negatives than positives.)

The problem is also only getting worse, as this graph from my Defensio account shows:

A whole lotta spam...
(2013 on the left, 2012 on the right...)

What I find a little odd is the content. The spam I get breaks down into three vague types - link spam, more link spam, and link spam prequels.

Link spam and more link spam are self-explanatory - more and more prevalent every day. Fortunately, that gets caught fairly easily by the filters.

Link spam prequels are odd messages, though. Usually in very badly written English, they congratulate me on how excellent my writing is, what a wonderful blog I have, and how often they return to read it. They’re also full of contextual non-sequiturs, like the fact that I relied too much on a video to make my point when there is no video in the page they’re commenting on...

I call these link spam prequels because, despite having no links, I believe their purpose is to try to flatter me into letting them survive. The idea is to poison the spam filtering system, allowing their name/IP address to seem clean, before they can then go on a spamming spree elsewhere. These messages tend to get through the automated filters, but not past me. I kill ‘em as soon as I see ‘em...

So what to do about it? Well, I have very few comments on this site anyway, and I was recently reminded that there are places like Google+, Facebook and Twitter where people can discuss these things if they want to. Which is probably for the best, as I'm sometimes busy (or drunk), and won't respond for a while anyway...

So comments are going.

It’s probably for the best.

I’ll be removing the ability to comment on every place that spammers find, as they find them. (Except the vCardSplit page, as I need the feedback there until the next version ships...)

It’s kind of sad to have to say that. A small section of society means that running a commenting system that allows anyone to post is just subject to too much abuse these days... It feels contrary to the principles of the world wide web, but I don’t think I’ve got any better choices.

Clock House Under Snow and Fog

Last week it was hot and sunny, and everyone complained.

This week it is hot and will rain, and everyone is complaining.

Remember this? You didn't like it, and you complained...
Clock House Under Snow and Fog



Whilst in a rather damp Wales (Nant-y-derry), I found this nice little scene.

Three things related to the tite Transport in this photo. Can you find them all?



Switching from Opera

For the first time in over a decade, I'm giving serious thought to ditching the Opera browser.
(For context, I started using Opera in 1996 at version 3.x,on Windows 3.11. I've bought versions of Opera in the past when they sold it. I'm a pretty staunch Opera user.)

They're switching their rendering engine to Google's Blink, which is good. But it's a major change, so Opera have wisely chosen to ship incrementally - the new version is out, but doesn’t have all the features of the old version. They'll be along in the future, apparently.

I think that's the right way to do it, and I think that the engine switch is correct - over the past couple of years, I've had too many sites start to display odd behaviour under Opera. Nothing huge, just little annoyances.

My main annoyance with Opera's strategy for this switch is twofold - no movement on Linux, and the mail client.
No movement on Linux I can kind of understand. It's probably a minority of their installed base.
And the mail client - well, it's closely tied to the old rendering engine, so they've split it out as a separate product.
It's the combination that's a killer for me - neither the new engine nor the new standalone mail client are available for Linux, and if just one became available I'd be forced to choose between mail or browsing. Basically, this situation sucks and I feel I have to at least check out the alternatives...

Briefly, then, the alternatives for browsing are either Mozilla's Firefox or Google's Chrome.
I like both. Funnily enough, Chrome works a little better with Google's services. And Firefox works better everywhere else.
Chrome has a slight edge in terms of interface - it just feels good to use. A little focus on response times and a few animations go a long way... But Firefox certainly has it beaten for functionality, especially with extensions.
It's actually a tough choice, which shows how even the browser playing field has become in recent years.
But I’ve decided to go with Firefox.

Mail is harder. Realistically, I have a plethora of choices - any IMAP client will do. Practically, the only one that remotely interests me is Mozilla's Thunderbird.
Or webmail.
I have a feeling I'll be using Thunderbird temporarily, until I sort myself out and set up webmail properly.

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