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Website comment spam

Hi everyone,

You may have noticed form time to time that there's spam in the comments of the main website. This has increasingly become a problem.

Once upon a time we had spam filtering - but these work by sending commenter details to a 3rd party which was in breach of our privacy statement. So we turned off such filtering.

We also used to use comment moderation for anonymous commenters - but weren't very proactive at moderating comments at times. So we switched to no moderation. That's how so much spam got in.

We used to regularly delete spam - but again were not always as proactive as we'd like about that.

Yesterday I turned anonymous comment moderation back on and in less than 24 hours there were already 600+ new comments to moderate - all spam! I also deleted many many (in the thousands!!!) existing spam comments.

But where do we go from here?

Do we stick with infrequent moderation and accept it means some valid comments won't be posted in a reasonable time-frame?

Do we revisit our privacy statement and amend it to be compatible with 3rd-party spam filtering services?


  • I certainly think we shouldn't be sending data to third parties. I hope our users expect us to be respecting their privacy by default, even though that's the opposite of what's commonplace elsewhere online. We don't want our privacy policy to say that our users don't have any privacy.

    But that still leaves the spam problem. I'd be interested to know the ratio of genuine non-spam comments between logged-in users and anonymous users. I think I could tolerate a reasonable delay for anon comments to be posted. Can anyone create an account on the main site or is it just for members?
  • I used to be under the impression anyone could create an account without becoming a member. Now I'm just not sure. I could log out and go and check... maybe later when I'm less busy :tired_face:
  • Keep moderation on for now. Maybe we could use something like reCaptcha to help moderate anon comments as well
  • we do already use a captcha - it clearly isn't sufficient deterrent - understandably as we were so lax at taking away the spam people took the effort to post up :)
  • Hmm... So there are now 3117 unapproved comments. I'll try and go through deleting some of them but it feels a bit like a losing battle
  • Woot... As of now, there are 0 unapproved comments. Since turning the moderation on their appears to be a slowdown in the spam post rate as well.
  • If by Members we're talking about making Party Membership a requirement, I'm against that option (at least until the free membership option gets tabled again). If not, I don't see it particularly deterring spammers.

    So, I'd put up with #2. I'm not sure how much data is actually getting sent to Google via reCAPTCHA, but there's got to be ways to find out.
  • ThyPirateDaveThyPirateDave South Wales
    Well I tested the captcha, it's functioning correctly and the only users that do not have to complete captcha are admins. Tried leaving it blank, filling it out wrong, etc. It rejects the comment so I guess the bots are just smarter than the captcha.

    8k~ Comments atm

  • I'd get rid of comments on the main website and move all discussion to this forum. That would keep everything in one place, lead to greater activity (I'd hope) and allow spam control etc. to be exerted in one place only.

    It would also remove the need to think about whether site membership requires party membership. The forums should be (and AFAIK, are) free for anyone to join.
  • ThyPirateDaveThyPirateDave South Wales
    On trello there is some discussion over a new captcha that isn't a data gatherer like google.

    Moving discussion to the form I think requires an account doesn't it? I don't know how it works.
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