Stopping the spammers & sploggers
Spam is the scourge of many a web site. GardenClickers is no different and we’ve been making quite a bit of effort behind the scenes to try and make sure that we’re not a victim. Spam, for those that don’t know, is when advertising and links get posted on a web site that is unsolicited and completely unrelated to the overall site content. It isn’t people that do it, although they set the wheels in motion. ‘Bots’ are the culprit. Bots are very clever bits of software that trawl the internet looking for sites like GardenClickers. The reason they look for sites like ours is that our site is built on very common software called WordPress and Buddypress. There are millions of sites that use WordPress and to a lesser extent, Buddypress. The people that program the bots know how these websites work and the code behind them and they use this to try and gain access and post the spam. Sploggers are what the bots posing as legitimate users are called.
So, what can we do about it?
The first thing, although you might not remember when you registered, is a Captcha. These can often be faintly annoying. We deliberately kept the one on GardenClickers quite simple.
These are very handy as they do stop many fake registration attempts. However, some of the bots are more sophisticated and can actually read these Captchas, put the right answer in the box and get themselves registered.
Our second line of defence is a cool piece of currently free software called WangGuard. Unless they change their policy, it should stay free for us. What WangGuard does is compare the username and email address of all registrations against a database of known sploggers. If it gets a hit, it does not allow the registration. The image below might surprise you a little. It shows how many splogger attempts we’ve had over the past week.
It’s quite an interesting thing to keep an eye on. Some days we get hammered, other days not so much.
Sometimes, despite these safeguards, some sploggers will make it through. A little bruised and bloodied from our defences but ready to make GardenClickers a less nice place to be. You might notice the tiny little green bars on the last image, ‘Sploggers Reported’. These are those hardy souls that have made it through only to fall victim to a couple of button clicks from VegVamp or I. This is where you come in. Our third line of defence is our members. For those watching the new member registrations, you might see some really strange names registering from time to time. These are most likely the sploggers although we do have a few strange named members of our own. Let a mod know and we’ll take steps to investigate and have them removed if need be. Gonewest has let us know about a couple. She has clearly missed her calling in life, should be in the CID. Everytime we remove a splogger that makes it through, the WangGuard database is updated so not only are we maintaining and improving our own environment, we’re also helping to do this for other sites and vice versa. If you see a new user that looks dodgy, let us know.
That’s about it for now. Hope I didn’t put you all to sleep. :)