Inquirer Goes Overboard

The news in the tech world this morning is that of the murder-suicide of “Spam King” Eddie Davidson.  It’s a sad event.  Mr. Davidson fatally shot his wife and three year old daughter and wounded a teenage girl (who may or may not be his daughter, I can’t tell from any of the stories) before turning the gun on himself and killing himself.  How anyone could be excited about such an event is beyond me.

Charlie Demerjian of the Inquirer is though.

NOT ALL STORIES have a happy ending, but the tale of escaped spam king Edward “Eddie” Davidson sure does. After walking away from prison, he got a gun, killed his family, then killed himself.

While it is hard not to feel bad for his brutally murdered wife and child, not to mention his wounded daughter, Eddie’s suicide itself is the stuff of happy thoughts.

“the stuff of happy thoughts.”?  WTF?  What kind of sick, twisted person gets happy thoughs from someone killing themself?  I don’t care if the guy was Hitler reborn, his death is not a happy event.  We have a justice system for a purpose.  And just because your email box is filled with spam, Charlie, does not make it a crime punishable by death.

I’d like a retraction from the Inquisitor as well as the resignation of Mr. Demerjian.  The first amendment doesn’t cover hate material, and that article is just that in my eyes.

Mr. Demerjian obviously has some rage issues about spam.  Maybe he was slighted by the little blue pills that didn’t work?  Hard to say, but lets hope he gets a little help for his rage before he goes homicidal and goes the way of the “Spam King”.

It doesn’t seem like I’m the only one that thinks that Charlie’s article goes too far.  The Register calls him out too.

P.S. I’m not linking to the Inquirer article.  I won’t lend to the filth.  If you insist on reading it, the article from the Register has a link to it.

Akismet/Popularity Comment Count Workaround

When I moved to the new design, I switched the “popular posts” plugin to the much more feature rich plugin “Popularity Contest” by Alex King.  I really like the plugin and the features that it added.  I like that I can weight the different aspects of the posts popularity.  If I think that Comments are most important, I can weight them higher than pageviews.

One downside to the plugin is that it counts all comments made.  That means that any comment that a spammer leaves gets counted.  Even if Akismet catches it.  What that does when you have a couple of popular spam comment targets is to skew the popularity counts and make your spammiest posts your most popular.  In effect, it becomes a most popular spam post list.

I haven’t yet found a permanent fix to the problem.  One way I’ve found to help with it (I haven’t implemented it) is to use both Akismet and Spam Karma.  I haven’t done that because I  didn’t like Spam Karma the last time I used it.  Personal choice.

I did, however, find a bit of a workaround to the problem.  The plugin options page has a button for recalculating the numbers.  Every time I go to delete my spam from Akismet, I then just add the step of going to the options page for Popularity Contest and click that button.  It resets and recounts the counts without the deleted spam comments included.  Giving a bit more accurate list.

Of course, the downside is that if I don’t delete spam for several days it still will be heavily skewed until I delete them and recalculate.  I’d like for it to be automatic or just not count the spam queue comments altogether.  I’m sure that it could be done via some code to eliminate certain flagged comments in the DB, but I really don’t feel like tearing apart the plugin code to figure it out.  Hopefully, Alex will find a way around it in a future release.

Until then, that’s my workaround.

Trash Management

There is always talk on sites like mine about how you have to actively manage your profile online.  You have to be in control of your brand.  But what happens when it isn’t your profile that has the problem.  What happens when the honest content that you create (albeit for monetary gain, but actual content) isn’t as high on the search engine rankings that you expected.

Garbage Recycle TruckIt’s time for a little trash management.  I don’t mean cleaning up of your content.  If it’s actual honest content, it’s probably pretty clean anyways.  But, what I do mean is to clean up the search engine results.

Take a close look at the results that are above you on the results page.  Many will be sites with actual honest content that the owner did better SEO on, or the page has simply been around longer.  But, some of the results will be downright spammy.  Sites like Squidoo, Google Groups, and Blogspot blogs are frequently used for the proliferation of spam links.  It’s fairly simple really, make a quick account, create a page or lens or blog, fill said page with keywords and affiliate links and viola!  You have your very own spam page.

Cleaning up these pages can be fairly simple as well.  You probably won’t get the job done on your own, but if you are consistent with it, the efforts of others will help you as well.  In all of the cases, the hosting organization will have a way to report the page as being of “less than admirable” quality.  i.e. Spammy.   Report it.

That’s it.  As you report the items, others will do so as well.  When enough reports come in, that site will get pulled.  Next time the search engine goes to crawl the site, it won’t be there.  It then gets pulled from the index and no longer shows up in the results.  Instantly, you’ve moved your listing up one spot on the results page.  If you’re already on the first page, one spot can mean a lot.

One suggestion here though.  Be honest about your reporting.  Don’t report a non-spammy site simply because they rank higher than you.  You wouldn’t want them to do that to you, so don’t do it to them.  Report the truly spammy sites.  The ones with the blocks of keywords that are gibberish to a human, but are golden keys to the search engines.

At the same time that you’re helping yourself out, you’re also helping the rest of the internet population by helping to weed out a few of the spammy sites and let the real content come through.

What non-standard ways do you have to increase your search engine rankings?


A little over a week ago I wrote that I had passed over the 100k mark on spam caught by Akismet. Shortly thereafter, Sarah of Stuff by Sarah pinged that post with a post of her own about some of the tactics that she uses to fight spam.

I made 3 major changes to the way this site worked.

  1. Change the Comment script filename
  2. Change one of the required form field’s ID/name
  3. Remove the ability for trackbacks

All 3 made a difference however now I only have the first method in place.

Following her lead, I implemented the first method. It’s rather simple really, although I do think that it’ll be broken for a while the first few times I update wordpress. I’m sure I’ll forget it for a day or two.

It’s been very nearly 8 days since I made the change and I’ve had just under 800 spams caught by Akismet. That’s an average of just under 100 per day. Holy Cow! That’s awesome. Some of you may not think so, but the truth of it is that I was getting somewhere around 300-400 spams a day. Wouldn’t you like to eliminate 75% of your spam?

In any case, the instructions are fairly simple. I’ll let Sarah tell you as it was her idea in the first place. Head over to her post, Zero Comment Spam, where she explains it all in detail.