There’s a Problem With My Spam Filter

Have one or more of your comments on this blog gone astray recently? If so, you might have fallen victim to an over enthusiastic spam filter.

A few days ago a friend and regular reader told me that her most recent comment had vanished. This puzzled me, because I wasn’t in the habit of blocking people, especially not the ones I like.

As a result of her complaint I combed through my spam folder this weekend and discovered an alarming number of comments which should not have been marked as spam. If one of your comments disappeared, that is probably where it went.

Some might be wondering why I don’t check the spam filter more often, and there’s a simple answer. Last month I got 54 thousand spam comments, or about 1,800 each day.

I’ll be honest: I stopped double checking my spam filter a while back. Clearly that was a mistake, but can you blame me for not wanting to read 1,800 spam comments a day?

In any case, I’m going to be checking every piece of spam before deleting it from now on. Hopefully I should be able to retrain the spam filter into not screwing up.

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.


  1. Ralph Hummel10 December, 2012

    Hi Nate,

    I had noticed that the odd comment I tried to leave disappeared, not a big issue for me. However I would suggest that you speak with your host and see if a different version for leaving comments is available to you. One where a human interaction is required in addition to typing the text of the message. Make the sending a bit more complicated will get rid of auto-generated spam…

    Cheers and keep up the great work, I for one appreciate your blog and return to it on a daily basis.

    Ralph with greets from snowy France

    1. Nate Hoffelder10 December, 2012

      I’m told that that wouldn’t help much. Spammers have networks now where folks in 3rd world countries solve captchas for a few cents per try.

      1. Ralph Hummel11 December, 2012

        Hi Nate,

        hmm, yes indeed that could be a problem, but it would definitely get rid of the spam-bots, and spammers would think twice before spending money.
        I would bet that the overwhelming majority of the spam you get is from bots, not humans, which in return would cut down drastically the number of spam that will be caught in your filter, thus enabling you to scan the remaining spam-filtered-messages..
        Of course a white-list approach is also feasible.
        Eitzher way, some admin work will be necessary.
        All the best
        Greets from freezing and snowy France

  2. Xyzzy10 December, 2012

    Bleah — I remember the volume of spam I got when I was hosting my blog even back in ’02-’04 was overwhelming enough (there were no filters available for my blog software), so I can only imagine being stuck with *that* many…

    The system BoingBoing used to have might work well for you: in order to have posts go through, new people had to email a few sentences about themselves & why they were interested in the site; the sysadmin would look it over the next day, then whitelist the individual’s address. It must’ve worked fairly well with a minimum of effort, as I never saw spam and they stuck with it until they switched to a full membership login/password not long ago.

  3. Sweetpea11 December, 2012

    I was already wondering if I was imagining things! Did I push that submit button or not…. Naturally, now I’m still not sure, but I can just blame it on your spam filter anyway 😀


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