Friday, September 02, 2011

Tweedle Beetles Return Part II

picture from (of all places)
I know you have all been waiting with great anticipation for the exciting conclusion to Tweedle Beetles Return Part I. Ok, you probably don't care that much, but it is my blog, and this is what I'm posting today, so deal with it. If you need to catch up, go ahead and read part I. Go ahead, part II will still be here when you are done.

So, I have all these emails coming into my sheppybrew inbox. There were not so many that it was unmanageable. It was just annoying. So, what did I do? I decided to program a CAPTCHA challenge into adding comments to my site.

If you don't know, CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing Test To Tell Computers and Humans Apart. These are the images containing garbled letters and / or numbers designed so that humans can theoretically read them but automated spamming programs should have troubles with reading them. You can read all about CAPTCHA here:

Most bloggers that I leave comments with use the built in CAPTCHA function as a comment authorization mechanism. Comments on my blog (as of the time I am typing this into my computer) don't require a CAPTCHA challenge because comment spamming has not been an issue here. As soon as I start having those problems on this blog, I'll take that step on this blog.

So, most of my software development skills involve Google/copy/paste, and I found some code that did what I needed with very little modification. Really, a monkey can do what I do. Well, any monkey that can use Google can do what I do. I'm sure not every monkey can use Google, so maybe my job is safe.

I implemented and tested the CAPTCHA and it worked. So, I pushed it out to the live site. This didn't even slow the spammers down. I thought the garbled nature of the generated images were pretty good, but apparently not good enough to fool the Tweedle Beetles (at this point I still had not deduced that the spammers were, in fact, Tweedle Beetles).

So, I told myself ... "I'll fix those spammers" (that is not an exact quote. The language I used was probably not appropriate for public consumption). I changed the CAPTCHA challenge to make the spammer add the digits together and enter the sum rather than just enter what was displayed. This is getting a bit annoying for humans, but surely it will stop the spam-bots.

And, then, the comment spam attempts stopped.

They stopped.... for almost a whole day and then they started up again.


Last weekend, I turned the comments off completely for the weekend. I turned them on again Monday morning.

And, this blog post is also getting longer than I feel comfortable with, but the story isn't yet finished. How did our hero react to this most recent set-back? Why is Sheppy so sure it is the Tweedle Beetles spamming? To answer these questions and more, stay tuned for part III of the not-so-exciting "Tweedle Beetles Return" series.


  1. Just turn on Comment moderation. Every comment posted has to be manually approved by you before it shows up on your site. They will quickly realize that what they post won't ever show up on your blog automatically. They will stop soon after. If it becomes way too much of a pain for even regular readers to comment they will stop also. Besides, Facebook seems to be the only place people like to comment on these days. I fear blog comments will soon become a thing of the past.

  2. Dave, I feel like you are not reading my comments to this suggestion in previous blog posts.... :-)

    Again, I am not having the issue with this (or any) blog. It is an ASP.NET website that I built that I am having the issue with.

    Basically, though, Moderation IS (and has been from almost the beginning) on and they still try. Bizarre ... I know. My next post will explain my theory as to why they are doing this.