Cutting comment spammers off at the knees

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Vig-RX is at it again. Comments are now pouring into Web sites with links from Vig-RX to a variety of medical and herbal products.

Vig’s modus operandi is to sign up for affiliate accounts around the Web. Then he registers some domains, put up a single page that redirects to the affiliate links he’s created and starts spamming.

Anil Dash put a stop to it a few weeks ago by asking the affiliate provider to cancel Vig’s account. They did, and that put Vig out of business for a short time — until he signed up for new accounts.

Sites are now getting comments containing around 60 domains related to various products, all linking to a small handful of affiliate accounts. But I’m happy to report that Vig has once again put out of business.

I talked to Anil and found out exactly how he’d gotten Vig’s account canceled last time, honed the technique, and now I’m publishing it here (with Anil’s permission).

The first step was to actually visit some of the links that Vig is posting. Once they redirect, you can look at the URL and find the affiliate code. Track down a contact link or form and now you can ask them to cancel the account belonging to that affiliate ID. Before they’ll agree to cancel it, however, you’ll need to supply some proof that the affiliate is spamming. One piece of proof is the email that your comment system sent you when they posted. Another way to provide proof is to find other sites that have been spammed.

Search Blogdex, Technorati, and Google for sites linking to your spammer’s domain. Copy the URLs for any searches you find and include them when you email the affiliate program. For instance, if you were complaining that were spamming, you could send a link to Google’s link search:

Armed with links to sites that have been spammed, a copy of the spam sent to you, and the affiliate’s ID code, you can now send a message to the owner of the affiliate program. I use something like this, feel free to adopt it and change as needed:

One of your affiliates has been spamming the comment forms of Web sites using a domain that redirects to your site using affiliate code XYZ.

You can see a sampling of sites that have been spammed at and a copy of the comment that I received below.

Please take action and suspend this account.

[copy of the spam you received.]

If you track down the hosting company that owns the domain’s servers, you can use this same technique to get their hosting account canceled.

Trackback from John's Jottings
November 7, 2003 6:07 PM

The Tide is Turning

Excerpt: Kalsey goes on the offensive by Cutting comment spammers off at the knees. He mentions that our old friend Vig-RX is up to no good again and outlines the steps he will be taking to ensure this is one spammer who learns you shouldn't mess with us blogge...

November 8, 2003 7:15 AM

Why not just use Jay Allen's MT-Blacklist? It does a brilliant job of cutting of Comment Spam on MT blogs.

November 8, 2003 2:56 PM

No reason to limit ourselves. A pincer movement is better than single frontal attack. No wait, MT-Blacklist is defensive. Errr, yeah, nevermind, I'm a pacifist...

Trackback from MT-Blacklist/Comment Spam Clearinghouse
November 8, 2003 3:01 PM

Kalsey's Flanking Maneuver

Excerpt: Adam Kalsey presents a write-up on how to cut off a spammer's business from the rear. Err, that didn't sound right... In any case, it's great stuff and Adam (and Anil!) deserve a big round of applause....

Trackback from c is for...
November 9, 2003 9:01 PM

The Anti-Spam Resistance Has Begun

Excerpt: Adam Kalsey has declared war on comment spam. I'm gonna be a footsoldier. I already get three hundred spams a day in email. My spam filter catches most of them (and often, takes a couple valid emails along with them)....

Trackback from anil dash's daily links
November 9, 2003 10:20 PM

Cutting comment spammers off at the knees


Trackback from Off the Kuff
November 12, 2003 7:18 AM

MT Blacklist updates

Excerpt: The clearinghouse for stuff related to Jay Allen's comment spam disabler is here. Note that you can submit spams you've...

Trackback from WrightStuph
November 13, 2003 1:35 PM

The gauntlet has been thrown

Excerpt: As those of you who have blogs (and those of you who read them) are aware, spammers have graduated from learning how to send email to figuring out how to post comments as well. Poor Luke was lamenting recently on...

Trackback from WrightStuph
November 13, 2003 1:37 PM

The gauntlet has been thrown

Excerpt: As those of you who have blogs (and those of you who read them) are aware, spammers have graduated from learning how to send email to figuring out how to post comments as well. Poor Luke was lamenting recently on...

Trackback from the shaky kaiser
November 19, 2003 11:43 PM

new v-sign

Excerpt: Check out the second photo on this page. A 419 v-sign! Great site all about baiting those 419 scammers. Check out how they strung Reverend Oduobi Tokunbo along! Look at the picture!! Here's an article all about scam-baiting from the...

Trackback from ThaNerd
May 14, 2005 3:32 PM

La vengence, c'est mal. Mais parfois...

Excerpt: Adam Kesley a posté un article expliquant comment se venger d'un spammeur. Attention, cela ne fonctionne qu'avec les comment et trackback spammers. Pour votre facilité, je traduis cet article en français. [début de traduction] [le début de l'article...

August 14, 2005 10:18 PM

Wow...this was posted in 2003 - and the comment spammers, far from being deterred, have multiplied like roaches and their arsenals have gone from the blunt clubs of manually entering spam, to the nuclear weapons of daily automated spamming of tens of weblog entries on thousands of weblogs - at nearly the touch of a button. Oh well.

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