I used to have a porn problem. No, not the kind of problem you are thinking of right now. Instead, I had a porn spam problem. Hundreds, indeed thousands, of comments with links to pornography sites were attaching themselves to this blogsite.
Nor was I alone in this attack. Apparently Real Live Preacher had much the same problem. His site was so infiltrated with comments generated by porn sites that he just about permanently shut down his archives. You see, the porn spammers don’t attack recent posts. They go for the older posts that you are less likely to notice and maintain.
I don’t know exactly how it works, but such sites have programmatic worms that travel through the internet. These “worms” then find websites (using a means I cannot say—perhaps a stray comment or word on your site attracts them) and then create comments on blog posts. These comments contain links back to their sites.
The purpose? I asked that very question to my previous host provider. He told me the purpose is to increase their websites’ priority and visibility on Google and Yahoo searches in the internet. Those search engines have their own variety of “worms” that search the internet and make indexes and references within the Google programs. That is how when you search for keywords such as “preterist” or “heretic,” a recent column from my blog-post may appear, perhaps just hours after I write it. I don’t submit this article to Google or Yahoo. Instead, their programs find my site and update their records on their own.
Well, the more references to your own website on other websites, the higher your website will appear on the Google or Yahoo (or Bing, to remain current) becomes. Therefore, the porn sites prey on unprotected websites, attaching their comments with their nefarious links back to their own sites. These links on other site have the effect of increasing their profile—albeit, illegitimately—on the web. This increased profile brings up their sites faster on the web for those people search for such things. And they have the added bonus of linking in unaware people from other sites, who once they get there may linger.
I once wrote a post entitled “The Porn Culture Takes Over.” I have a feeling that title drew in those programmatic links like sharks sensing blood in the water. I don’t regret the article, but I do regret the results.
So I set out to clear out the problem as best I could. Unlike Real Live Preacher, I did not want to shut down my archives. Nor did I want anyone clicking on a link on my site and ending up at a porn advertisement or worse. First, I loaded a Spam filter (actually two) on my site that would do its best to at least slow down the infiltration of degenerated comments to a trickle. Then I set out on the ugly task of taking out the old comments one by one.
At first it was easy. The porn comments were computer generated and were basically filled with descriptions of lewd acts. I could sent them into the spam filters with an easy click of the mouse. Then as I got to the more recent “additions” it became harder. The comments were more generic and did not reference anything related to sexual acts. They were statements more like “Thanks for this post. I really helped me to rethink this issue.” Even later comments even somehow integrated words from my original post within them. The only way I could really be certain that the comment was false was when I examined the link within the comment it was to something like sexywomenforviewing (dot) com or something obviously tied to a more lustful reality. So to those comments as well I consigned to Spam Hades.
Then the links became less obvious. (Were these guys tracking what I was doing? It almost felt like that, though probably they were fighting millions of bloggers doing the same housekeeping chores.) Now the links went to perhaps older sites that were bought out by the porn dogs. When you linked to those sites, they automatically forwarded you to the nefarious movies and pictures, some instantly running when you got there! These had such innocent links like “wtbsradio (dot) com” or even more innocuous sites. As I said, pornographers buy out legitimate sites that lose their domain name either through death of the owner or negligence or loss of interest. They then put in imbedded links on these former legitimate sites to theirs. Even Disney and the White House have been victimized by this tactic.
And in this case, the only way to know is to test out the link by clicking on it. Now that was a really ugly business. Then I found BlueCoat’s K9 Web Protection and that helped me for awhile. It would block the website after I clicked on the link and not let it show. Then it let me know I almost went to a porn site. Unfortunately, after that, my company upgraded their Citrix programs and they conflicted with K9 so I had to uninstall it. Luckily by then, by web-cleaning (literally) was almost finished.
Now I think between my Spam Filters and my increasing ability to spot a sham comment that gets through, I have my website back down to a maximum PG rating. For those who in the past clicked on comments and went where they did not desire to go, my sincere apologies. I am doing my best to ensure it does not happen again. I such a link does occur for you, please report it to me immediately and I will get rid of it.
This goes even for links within my posts themselves. Those too may have once pointed to legitimate sites where the domain names were later taken over by the pornographers. I have tries to check out all those as well, but such changes are almost impossible to catch without, again, click on each link on a regular basis. Not something I have the time to do. And spam filters don’t catch those references. So again, if you click on a past post and go to such a site, report it to me immediately.
However, now that I have pretty much stopped the flow of porn comment spam, I have attracted a new foe. This one is even more insidious and insistent than my former enemy. And my spam filters are also being challenged (and failing miserably) to catch these messages.
Now instead of porn spam I am getting regular attacks of false comments linked back to Payday Lender sites! Part of it is my fault I guess. A few years back, I wrote in defense of these businesses—contrary to many of my friends and even my pastor and church. I still would insist that the regulations enforced on these institutions are unfair and perhaps even economically dangerous.
That is, until they targeted this site for their comment spam. Now I wish we had put them all out of business. That I guess, is the reward I earned for supporting free enterprise.
I guess I would prefer to have the payday lender spam over the porn comments. But barely ..just barely.