What we’re doing to combat spam

Spam is, unfortunately, an issue. As a site becomes popular, it starts to attract more and more unwanted attention from unscrupulous people who want to add their unwanted advertising, usually through weblog comments and discussion board postings.

What’s the point? Basically, the more links to a site there are, the higher its Google pagerank, and the higher up the search results it comes. Nobody thinks anyone’s dumb enough to click a link in a comment; it’s an attempt to exploit loopholes in search engines to make sites more popular.

So how do we fight it?

Elgg now has two prongs to its attack. The first is a master blacklist of terms people cannot include in their comments; for Elgg.net we’ve set this to include things like “-casino” and “v1agra”. People trying to post those to the site will receive an error message. The terms on this list are actually regular expressions, so we can match more complicated terms if necessary.

Secondly, we’ve restricted commenting to logged-in users by default. You can change this – it’s in ‘account settings’ – but be aware that doing so makes you more susceptible to spam.

Developers: if you want to include this feature in your plugins, you just need to check if run(“users:flags:get”,array(“publiccomments”,[resource owner ID])) is true or false.

If you do receive spam on your Elgg blogs, please let us know. Hopefully, though, these features will be enough protection to fend spammers off.

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