Holiday Spam Splurge
Some of you might not remember this, but Virante runs an anti-linkspam tool called LinkSleeve which allows you to easily filter link spam from any online application (blog, forum, guestbook, wiki, etc.) The tool is very similar to Akismet (in fact, it was released on the exact same day as Akismet years ago). However, it does not require an API and uses XML-RPC rather than REST.
Regardless, we experienced an interesting, headache-inducing phenomena over Christmas. While it is nearly impossible to determine if just a handful of spammers were responsible for the surge, we noticed a nearly 46% increase in link spam generated over the last 3 days. The variety of sources indicated that it was at least a handful of spammers, but it is difficult to determine if this was a trend, or if just a few individuals decided to go for it. The spam itself was not particularly creative or professional, which explains in part why our filters were able to collect so much of it.
A couple of thoughts:
- The Holiday Commercialism Incentivises Spam: Because so much of our time and energy is spent on purchasing gifts during this part of the year, it makes sense that spammers would make extra efforts. What many people forget is that while link-spam is primarily targeted at improving search rankings, click through traffic from well written spam is also valuable. Given the greater amount of gift-related search and online traffic during this time period, it makes sense for spammers to go all out.
- Absent Bloggers Means Greater ROI: I also imagine that bloggers and webmasters are asleep at the wheel, or not even at the wheel, for much of this time, giving spammers the opportunity to sneak links in when no one is looking. While services like LinkSleeve protect bloggers for the most part, there are always a few that get through. My recommendation is to always, always, always moderate. Even if it takes an hour or longer.
Anyway, good try spammers. Our honey-pot sites seemed to have withstood the onslaught quite well being protected by LinkSleeve, and I imagine Akismet sites have faired well too.