Ministry of Propaganda

Ministry of Propaganda - 07/May/2005: "Defeated by Spam"

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Defeated by Spam

It had been on the cards for a few months now, on Thursday I had enough and pulled the plug. I started my FTP client, navigated to the cgi-bin of my travelogue site and selected the guestbook directory. Then I hit the delete button. After four years the spammers had finally killed something I enjoyed a lot.

The first two to three years went smoothly, hardly any problems, only the occasional unacceptable message and some manually entered advertising. Easy to deal with. But some time late last summer the flood gates opened. I think I can even pinpoint it: There was an entry "which guestbook script are you using?" and shortly after the spam started. All variations of poker, various medicines, mortgages and soon porn. My logfiles showed searches like this one (don't tell me I'm helping the spammers, they know this anyway).

Often my day started having to delete 10 messages at once. Because of the nature of some of the spam I felt I had to almost constantly monitor the guestbook to be able to delete it quickly. I didn't want anyone having to read this dirt on my site. I think quite a few children use the site for school projects (mainly about Charles Rennie Mackintosh), making me even more anxious to delete the filth some spammers send. I even asked my mother to cover for me while I was travelling and didn't have internet access. I tried a bad word list (which only helped to an extent) and renaming some variables (which only helped in messing up something with the script), which was about as much as I could do with my limited programming skills. Nothing really helped.

So this Thursday I gave up. Thank you very much to the spammers for destroying something that meant something to me.

PS: Before anyone worries, I'll continue with the site, just without the guestbook. I'll get over it.

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