It’s occurred to me that some of you – perhaps even plenty of you – haven’t been following along in the particular social media outlets where discussions and explanations of my Web-sites’ extended downtime (three weeks), and the issues with the comments system were discussed.
Okay, so let’s tackle that.
So, there have been a number of issues. Some groups, which will remain (shall we say) Anonymous, don’t like the sorts of things some Web-sites have to say, and execute DDoS attacks to silence and censor them. While I haven’t been the direct recipient of a DDoS attack for some years now, there’s a certain amount of “splash damage” – DDoS attacks often overload key Internet routers, effectively blocking access to thousands or tens-of-thousands of unrelated Web-sites. Being that the server is located in a popular portion of the Internet network, my sites do tend to get caught in that splash damage annoyingly often.
Mostly, though, we’re talking about spam.
Sure, for some years now, my sites have been the recipients of large amounts of spam comments. Thousands per day, on average – but the spam filters have tucked those away into a corner of the database where I would then spend lengthy hours looking for false-positives (legit comments accidentally flagged as spam), and deleting the rest.
Time-consuming and annoying? Yes.
Then, quite suddenly, the amount of spam comments ramped up … let’s use the word ‘significantly’. In this case, that means something on the order of 750 million (plus change) spam comments in under two weeks, with no sign of it slowing down.
The server and network loads caused by these, and by the spam filters themselves so alarmed the server administrators that they started giving me the evil eye. This is not even counting the impact on the actual database servers.
After some discussion, I chose to temporarily disable the site until I could clear out the rubbish.
This took around three weeks of tinkering, whenever I could spare the time.
Even though the site was technically down, it didn’t actually stop the attempts to post spam comments. They were still coming in. They still are.
It was clear to me that I couldn’t turn the comments system back on, so I dived in and disabled it in several ways, to minimise load from the attempts that were still occurring. So, no more comments. Well, some of my favourite blogs don’t have comments. If they can do it, I guess I can as well.
What I did leave in is the feedback form for complaints about advertising. I hate crap advertising as much as the next person, and hope to winnow out those vaguely racist, or openly sexist, or obvious scam ads that crop up from time to time.
Yes, well, that didn’t last long. After a few hours, spam started flooding into the feedback form. It then started ramping up, until there was no fewer than one spam every six seconds turning up in my email box.
So, that had to go too.
That said, the Web-sites are now internally leaner and more responsive, despite the floods of traffic that are still happening.
And that’s where we’re at. Thus we are all enlightened.