May 29, 2008
Let's face it: spam is just not a pleasant subject to deal with or talk about. But the fact is, we all deal with it every day in each of our online accounts, and spammers make a living off of constantly devising new tactics to get their insidious messages before our eyes.
Since so much of our fight against spam goes on behind the scenes, we wanted to describe some of the ways we've been helping you combat comment spam in TypePad as well as tell you how we're improving our fight in the future.
We've Come A Long Way
Years ago, as spammers began to identify blogs as a target for their attacks, our staff would manually craft rules to catch the spam. Over time, spammers grew in number and sophistication and these rules became more complex and unwieldy, requiring manual intervention to deal with each new type. It soon became critical to ramp up our spam fighting efforts.
At the beginning of last year, we created a team within Six Apart whose exclusive focus is fighting spam. They set out to build a learning system that automatically adapts to new types of spam attacks, with the purpose of reducing the amount of spam that lands on your blog in the first place. Hopefully those of you who have been with TypePad for a few years have seen a noticeable reduction in the amount of spam that gets through to you. This learning system is also trained to let the good comments through, thereby minimizing the time you spend thinking about spam.
How You Help Fight Spam
Some TypePad bloggers deal with spam by moderating their comments and just deleting any spam that gets through. This is a great way to prevent spam from getting published on your blog, but there is a better way to deal with spam. By taking a few seconds to report the spam, you're feeding vital information to our learning system, helping to make it even better. Your spam report helps prevent that strain of spam from going out to other blogs (or coming back to you again).
You've probably noticed the "Report Spam" option when you're managing your comments in TypePad. It's crucial for you to take a few seconds to properly report spam when it gets through to your blog. Please take a moment to watch how to properly report spam:
As you can see from the above example, the learning system keeps getting better as bloggers feed it information. These spam improvements have been running behind the scenes on your TypePad blog for over a year. For those of you who added captchas to your blog comments to help fight spam, you might want to disable the comment captchas to see if it makes for a better commenting experience for your readers.
Building A Smarter Spam Filter
TypePad's spam blocking service is a free service for TypePad members, and it's constantly updated with improvements and information from the built-in learning system. The entire blogosphere benefits when we combat spam. Blogging is just better without it.
In order to feed more information into our spam filter's learning system, and to fight spam around the blogosphere, we are in the process of launching a beta version of TypePad's spam fighting service for free to additional bloggers. We're calling it TypePad AntiSpam and it can be used with supported plugins that work with Movable Type, WordPress.org, and any other platform which supports spam plugins. This will expand the information coming in to our spam filter's learning system, and will make TypePad AntiSpam smarter for everyone who uses it. The TechCrunch blogs have been using TypePad AntiSpam and you can see for yourself Michael Arrington's thoughts on the service.
We're offering TypePad AntiSpam as a free, open source service to additional bloggers for several reasons. The learning system gets better as more information comes in, and that learning is passed on to benefit all bloggers using the service. Less spam makes blogging better, and frankly we don't want to profit off of spammers' success. As a TypePad blogger, you've already been using our AntiSpam service and do not need to take any action to continue receiving the spam-fighting benefits.
It's not likely we'll see an end to spam any time soon, but together we can make it even more difficult for spammers to get through to us and to the people who read our blogs. If you'd like to try out TypePad AntiSpam on one of your other blogs, or recommend the service to your friends, please read more details on the TypePad AntiSpam page.