Thursday, April 24, 2014

Anonymous posting is no more

I hate to do this...

I like losing just as much as anybody else does.  But a winner is still a winner, and in this sad fight of spam bots.... spam bots won.  So Mr Annoying Spam Bot, take your victory lap, kiss the cheerleader, and get the hell off my blog.

As soon as I publish this post, I'll be turning anonymous posting off.

I've been more than hesitant in taking this step but this morning it just got to be too much.  When I was in my heyday, making regular posts and updates to this blog, dealing with spam comments was like weeding the garden.  Yes it was tedious and extra work that I'd rather not do, but it just part of maintaining a blog that welcomed comments from anyone and everyone.  But then I got the job, lost most of my 'Caitlyn' self, and only occasionally stopped by here myself.

I didn't just slow down making caps and posts... I stopped visiting the back room of this blog on a regular basis.  I didn't have any great reason to keep up on  how many views the last post got, or any reason to monitor the comments section.  That's not to say that I don't appreciate comments... but I read them like anybody else did;  by viewing the blog's front end.

Whenever I'd make a post, I'd of course have to unlock the back room, log in, and go through those same motions.  But even then I would ignore the basic maintenance.  I wouldn't check up on view counts or per post view counts.  I wouldn't cull the spam comments out or even glance through them to ensure that an honest to go anonymous comment got caught up with all the spam.

Then yesterday came.  For whatever reason I wandered back and read some old posts and comments.  I re-tread my steps when I almost lost 'Calvin' in "Being Caitlyn", "Why?", and "Time Keeps On Slipping Slipping Slipping...".  It seems that many of the comments were correct... when I finally had something of 'Calvin' to occupy my mind, Caitlyn faded back somewhat.  I guess I never considered that the 'balance' would sway so far though that Caitlyn herself would go missing.

Anywho, this morning rolls around and I log into the blog to do some cleaning up.  And boy, what a mess I've found.  I believe I was getting upwards of 10 or so spam comments a day at it's worst.  I haven't cleaned out the spam area of the comments for the past 62 days though and there are 2620 spam comments there waiting for me.  That's over 42 spam comments a day.


I'd love to think that if I went though this pile of spam that I might find one or two honest to go anonymous comments, but that would take DAYS.  And even if I did find one or two, I'd just end up wandering away again and having to go through that process all over again in a few months.  Sadly on the scales of "Worth it" and "Not Worth it", this weights to heavily in the 'Not' direction.

Maybe if it was only the spam comments that Blogger takes fairly good care of, I'd leave it up.  Every few weeks I'd just go in and blindly delete all the spam.  But it seems that the spammers have targeted a few posts directly.  Specifically "Keep Your Sissy Beautiful PSA".

A week ago I posted "Big Long Boners".  I knew that it would never garner a lot of views.  It was made to be fun and quick and garner a chuckle or two.  But with as little posting as I"m doing, it should easily be the most viewed page for the past week.  It did get just over 1400 page views in that time but that doesn't make it the most viewed page. No, "Keep Your Sissy Beautiful PSA" blows it out of the water with just under 3000 pageviews.

Now I think that cap is pretty good.  It has a beautiful image, a fun story, and a bit of 'meta' to it.  But there is NO WAY that a cap from December of last year should be garnering 3000 pageviews a week in April.  When I look at the all time stats, it has almost 31,000 pageviews.

Thirty One Fucking Thousand!

As a comparison, I visited Google Analytics (heh... Anal) which does a FAR better job of filtering out spambot views.  "Keep Your Sissy Beautiful PSA" has garnered 3000 pageviews there.  It's not the number one visited page.... its number 339.  And that number feels far more right to me.  It's not one of my best and wouldn't get that many page views.  Popular posts top out around 6000 while really special ones get closer to 10,000.  According to GA my highest viewed page (beyond the home page) is my listing of caps... and that has only received just over 21,000 views.

Those spam bots just keep commenting on that post.  To date there have been 2547 comments on that post (2548... they just left another).  Take out the 8 REAL comments and the spam bots have left 2540.

While "Keep Your Sissy Beautiful PSA" is their most heniously visited and commented upon page, it's not their only one.  "The Perfect Bride", "Sissy Service", "The Haven Quarterly", "Escalator to Heaven", "LtSL: Kissing", and others have received dozens of comments and hundreds of unearned pageviews too.

Through the page views and comments, the spam bots have made the built in analytics (heh... anal) from blogger next to useless.  But it doesn't stop there.  Each and every comments is in my gmail inbox, so I have to constantly go through and mark them as 'read' without reading them (making it even more likely that a truly anonymous comment would fall through the cracks).

And then a few weeks ago it seems that they found my "Ask Caitlyn A Question" box and targeted their attacks there.  When I set up that form, I knew it would never be a permanent solution.  I was limited to 100 'Questions' while keeping it free to use.  I didn't think it would be a big problem as I don't receive all that many 'Questions'.  But the spam bots ate up almost all of them.  I can now receive two more 'Questions' and then I'll have to take the form down.

So... enough is enough.  Spam bots... you won.  I will now completely remove the ability for people to post anonymously.  Soon enough I'll remove the ability to easily and anonymously send me a question.  If I ever return to posting on a regular basis I'll certainly bring anonymous commenting back as I'll be willing to put hte time and effort into weeding the garden on a daily basis.  But don't hold your breath... I don't see me returning to regular posting any time soon (if ever).

Sorry to be a kill joy, but unless someone has a better idea, this is the best thing I can think of doing.  I always have my email address "c a i t l y n m a s k e d AT g m a i" available and you can always send me a PM on the haven... but neither of these are exactly anonymous.  Sorry about that.


  1. Blogger was quite negligent about spam for a few months, which you are just noticing now. At one point, I was getting around 100 spam postings per day, and like you, they centered on about 8-10 posts I made in the past. I assume that something in those posts triggered their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) tools and it chose those posts to spam the living crap out of.

    In the last week or so, they've been so much better at stopping the spam from even getting into our folders again, I think I'm averaging ONE per day now.

    1. Hmm... one per day would be more reasonable. Having one page of spam comments to delve through every few months would be far better than 26 pages.

      I may have just been a bit to angry at the time I took action on this. I'm considering dropping the ban on anonymous comments, but that will be for another day.

  2. I assume, my dear, sweet Cautlyn, that when you invite Mr. Spambot to "kiss the cheerleader," that you are not referring to my cheerleader? I'd
    hate to have to beginning cleaning spam out if her in addition to, well, spunk.

  3. For about two weeks one of my posts was getting a ton of traffic and a few spam posts. I've tried my best to try to remove my blog from some of the search engine paths. It seems to work for the most part.

    1. I think that's what bothered me the most about this whole ordeal... the added traffic to several posts. I hate the thought of a true anonymous post getting buried under all the spam, but blowing up my page view count is FAR more irritating.

  4. I totally get what you mean. My blog gets its share of spammers too. Turning on the word verification option helped a lot to reduce it and I've since been able to continue allowing anonymous posts, but I get what you mean. Spam is annoying!

    1. There's the rub. I know that turning the captcha on would also remove almost all spam but I hate adding another barrier to those who wish to comment. I know it gets under my skin when I have to take that extra step to make a comment to someone else's post, especially when it's just a quick "HA!" style comment.