ASCII by Jason Scott

Jason Scott's Weblog

Limits —

This weblog finally got a little thing attached to it: now you have to type in a keyword (it’s currently “ascii” but it’ll change) to post your comment. It’s a slight annoyance, relatively, with an extra weird step just to say something to me and to people who read this weblog.

But the fact is, I was up to well over 300 spammed comments a day on this weblog, and I nearly deleted an actual posting or two in the last week, so I finally got driven into this, or keep losing 30 or 40 minutes a day deleting stuff by hand. So I apologize in advance for the extra hoop.

Will this stop the spamming? No, but it stops the completely automatic, run-by-a-program-randomly-trolling-the-internet stuff. Which, like I said, was going to threaten to overwhelm my weblog.

People giving me the down-home spamming where they come on and jump my little hoop to sell you something, they’ll just have to get me deleting them back by hand. Like the good old days.

This is nothing like my e-mail situation, where because I have a very old domain (cow.net) and a few other high-profile domains and something like 10 years on the internet, I get over two million spam e-mails a month.

Is there a solution to this situation? Regardless of what people selling you stuff say, the fact is, no, unless you use some level of whitelisting, that is, you open up a tiny fractional vetted list of people who you wish to interact with and solely interact with them. I am not comfortable doing that, so I pay that price.

The flip side, though, is that people do neat stuff (interact, trade games, stream mp3s, and so on) without being totally crushed by outside forces. Spam will only go away when spam doesn’t work. Spam works, my friends. It works very, very well. Don’t think it’s being done for fun; it’s hard work being a 24-hour-a-day dick.

For my own bit, I’ve been watching cd.textfiles.com grow from my little funny site of CD-ROMs to an absolutely insane endless buffet by people coming on and downloading gigabytes a day. Gigabytes. One of the side-effects of there being over 130gb of data in one place is that statistically, some of that data’s going to end up having a use to somebody, somewhere. So multiply that by many thousands and I’m finding I’m showing up in “song searches”, “graphics searches” and so on, constantly bring crawled by Yahoo and Google (they can be very inefficient about it when they want to be) and sometimes just sucked dry by someone doing 30 simultaneous connections, like that’s going to speed things up.

I have stuff that, when you’re obviously connecting to me with many simultaneous connections, just blocks your ass out. I have to do it, or I couldn’t even do e-mail anymore. Someday cd.textfiles.com will get the same treatment as the main textfiles.com site or digitize.textfiles.com and live out away from my personal T-1, but right now, I watch the pain.

I was interviewed on FBILL Radio yesterday, through a Skype connection, and I had to shut off cd.textfiles.com to prevent my packets going to neverland. I watched the usage graph go to literally 2% of usage after turning it off for two hours. Popular.

I don’t get money for it. I don’t put ads on it, and people appreciate that and enjoy it, if somewhat silently. I think a lot of people just think these things are “there” for them, and don’t give a thought that somebody’s probably picking up the tab for their joyride. And you know, for most people, I’d prefer it that way. Why should everything be “brought to you” by some popsicle company?

But some people, I don’t know. They complain about my speed, they complain about me not having something they expect, and they demand I set things up a certain way for their convenience. Sometimes I can do it with no pain. Sometimes I can’t, and can’t wins.

For these folks, I have one thing to point out: the era of the website proving a point is starting to become history. Stuff is there because someone put it there, and if you get something without being bombarded by an ad, a pop-up, some malware or a credit-card form, somebody’s being pretty friggin’ cool. Tell them.

Heck, tell me. Your chance of your comment being lost in the spam just reduced for the time being.


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5 Comments

  1. Jason Scott says:

    Hi, apparently this is working so well, it’s blocking a few folks. Checking that out!

  2. Tim says:

    What’s coolest of all is the time you take to write these insightful, articulate commentaries. Thank you.

  3. anonymous says:

    Thanks Jason, for textfiles.com and all the rest of the cool stuff you do!

  4. Kizzle says:

    What kind of spam countermeasures were you using before? On hackermedia I just installed a WordPress plugin that made your browser include an extra string of random data when the comment was sent. This was all transparent to the user. It has been in place well over a year without a single automated spam message getting through.

  5. Wow, and I thought my 10,000 pieces of spam per month was big ;)

    Although, I hope that doesn’t make me a dick for asking for CD’s in ISO format when we did our trade (in reference to your ‘demand I set things up a certain way for their convenience’ bit). Did you receive my package? I haven’t received yours yet.

    -RS