When ideas fail, words come in very handy.
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
A few days ago, my husband tried three times to post a comment to my blog. Each time, his comment was rejected because it looked like spam. The poor man was completely perplexed. What had he done to appear as if he were spamming my site? He had no idea, but like the little train that could, he just kept typing away and eventually wrote a comment that was not rejected by my spam filter.
The first three times, he had apparently used a dirty word. But not any old dirty word, a BHW dirty word.
My spam filter, MT-Blacklist, works by screening comments for text strings, URLs, and regexes [fancy geek-speak, I think, for a method of matching sequences of characters or words] that are on a blacklist. I can set each blacklist entry to either block the comment or force it into a queue where I have to approve or reject it. MT-Blacklist also forces moderation for comments posted to old entries and for suspicious-looking comments, such as those containing a bunch of URLs.
Make no mistake, MT-Blacklist is a censorship tool. In addition to banning URLs, I have had to ban specific words from the comments to keep my site from being overtaken by spammers. I hate banning any words at all. But if I don’t use MT-Blacklist, I might as well shut the whole site down because it would become nothing more than a huge gambling-prescription-drug-mortgage-refinancing-dick-stiffening advertisement.
Oddly and pleasantly enough, however, George Carlin’s seven dirty words are still legal. So go ahead and comment to your heart’s content about shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits. Say ‘em loud and say ‘em proud, motherfuckers.
But don’t you dare write about casino, credit, equity, online, poker, or Texas. Those are the new dirty words, the vilest of the vile. Put just one of them in a comment on my blog, and feel the wrath of the BHW anti-spamhole rejection message, beeotch.
To recap, fuck is in, Texas is out.
Has anyone noticed what’s missing from my list, by the way? I have not one word specifically targeting the killer app of the Web: porn. I think the blacklist regexes are catching most of the porn spam, so I haven’t had to add any individual sex words to the list. Thank goodness.
Trust me, I wouldn’t use a blacklist if I didn’t have to. I thought I might wax philosophic tonight about the slippery slope of Big Brotherhood. But who wants to hear that crap? Besides, spammers suck. They basically spray paint their ads on my website, some of them hundreds of times. So they need to be stopped.
Look at these numbers. Since May 3, MT-Blacklist has blocked 11,419 spam comments on BHW. And it has sent another 730 to the moderation queue, all but about ten of them spam. [A big hello to my five remaining readers.]
2200 blocked comments contained URLs with variations on “texas-holdem.” Apparently, spammers think people like to gamble.
And how many comments have my dirty words stopped? A lot. Keep in mind that I manually added these six words to the blacklist this month, and none of them has been on the list longer than three weeks.
Casino: 405 blocked
Credit: 140 blocked
Equity: 100 blocked
Online: 739 blocked a week ago; today, 3035 blocked
Poker: 566 blocked
Texas: 125 blocked
Clearly, online is a good catch-all spam term. Spamholes use it in just about every spammable product out there: gambling, pharmaceuticals, sex, loans/credit, whatever.
So when you comment, think euphemistically if you need to write about online-texas-poker-casino-equity-credit. Consider it as a creative vocabulary building exercise, if nothing else.
But feel free to cuss like a sailor.
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