Comment spam abates?

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A year ago, I noted that Language Log was getting about 4000 spam comments per day ("A million (spam) comments", 9/2/2011). Recently, this number has been substantially lower — just 771 in the past 24 hours, for example.

But during the past year, the spam tide rose before it fell. We logged our millionth spam comment at some point early in the morning of September 1, 2011; today, a year later, our spam filters have caught 3,277,574, or an average of (3277574-1000000)/365 = 6240 per day over the intervening time.

Whether the spam filter's daily harvest is 500 or 10,000, it's too many for me to check the whole list for false positives. So if your comment doesn't appear, and it wasn't offensive and/or devoid of relevant content, there's a good chance that you somehow got caught in the spam filter.


  1. Andy Averill said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 11:32 am

    I've never had a comment disappear, not even the contentless and offensive ones. :)

  2. Geoff Nathan said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 12:40 pm

    Our blogging system here at Wayne State uses a subscribed anti-spam system called akismet ('anti-fate'?, 'non-fate'?…) which works really well–I usually only get one or two spammish comments a week, but there are thousands of comments that get filtered out before I have to deal with them. I'm not sure how much Wayne State is paying for it, but it's certainly worth it, because I saw what it was like before it got switched on, and my blog pretty much only gets noticed on campus even though it's open to the world.

    [(myl) Akismet is also what we use. The number of false negatives is significant — sometimes as many as 100-200 spam comments slip through in a day, though 10-20 is more normal. Obviously the number of false positives is also greater than zero.]

  3. Rick Sprague said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 1:47 pm

    I posted a comment on 8/28 to the "Slept walked" post (detailing Google findings of "jumped started" and "jumping starting" on professional sites) that apparently got trapped. I didn't pursue it because I had noticed through experimentation that embedded URLs ending in digits caused the preview box to hiccup, and I thought that might have been related to the problem. I only used linked URLs, and my email address is at, which I wouldn't have imagined would be blacklisted.

  4. Dan T. said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 5:57 pm

    Test without the URI link…

  5. Dan T. said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 6:03 pm

    My comments are randomly failing… I think the ones where I include my personal web page in the link field are more likely to vanish into the ether than ones where I don't, but some of those disappear too.

  6. Barbara Phillips Long said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

    I had a comment disappear recently; it was made on the "Hoping to be in some kind of tact" post. It had a couple of links in it, which may have caused the failure to post. Otherwise, I've had no problems.

  7. John Burgess said,

    September 1, 2012 @ 8:43 pm

    I've noticed a weird thing about Askimet over the past few months. It will flag as spam comments that were posted three years ago with no problem. That does need some watching as it rips the middle out of discussions in comment threads.

  8. Rubrick said,

    September 2, 2012 @ 4:52 am

    Practically all of my comments on the linguistic aspects of penis enlargement have gotten snagged for some reason.

  9. Neil Dolinger said,

    September 3, 2012 @ 4:19 pm

    I tried twice (once yesterday, once today) to post a not-too-long, polite, somewhat informed comment to Professor Mair's post re Jon Huntsman's appearance on the Colbert Report. I am not sure why, but neither time did they appear after I submitted them. As usual, I used my name (real!) and e-mail address (real as well).

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