Referer Spam

This is a request – what does it matter ?
Referer spam is one of the latest things to be assailing blogs and there are plugins to cope with it, .htaccess rules to be used, logs to be examined, headers to be analysed and probably other stuff too. Now …. I’m not belittling any work that people have done, and I’m not having any sort of go at people who are clever enough to track all this stuff and put up the barriers, but … what does it matter ? For example, on this domain there are no stats visible to you or any bots. None. I have bandwidth to cope with these referers (I think I do anyway – how much are they costing me ?). Assuming I have no other protection, then why should I take steps to protect myself ? If I do will it stop it ? Will anything stop it ?
Is there something more out there other than a “This is bad so stop it” guide ?

Comment spam hurt people, so they acted – when protection became available, they used it. But referer spam ? If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not going to be fixed is it ? So why do we need to fix it ?

If you know lots about this, don’t resist any urge to blog about it 🙂

Posted in WWW

14 thoughts on “Referer Spam

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  2. Hmmn, if you read my blog entry on Referrer Karma’s release (honestly can’t be arsed to fish it back now :cool:), you’ll notice that there was a very concrete reason for me to want to stop Ref Spam.
    Not only do they waste your bandwidth (which is bad enough as it is), make your referrer unreadable (which is kind of a pain, even if you don’t display them: merely if you want to follow where your traffic is coming from), but most importantly: they can put a really heavy processing load on your server.

    When your blog runs on WP, which is quite CPU happy these days, and a nitwit loads your index page 30 times in a few secs to leave a “referrer imprint”, let me tell you your host isn’t happy… This was the only reason I created RK and use it nowadays.

    As it turns out, filtering ref spam also happens to decrease comment spam (same IPs often enough)…

  3. Dealing with spam sucks the fun out of having a blog. I spend more time deleting crap than I do writing. I’m tired of all the time it takes to install plugins and hacks and all other manner of crap.

    What the hell is the sense of having a blog these days? I thought it would be something casual and fun. Boy, was I ever naive and stupid. I really need to find something else to do. This is wasting my life.

  4. Anybody know of a quick and easy way to delete all of the archived spam from the WP database? Chris’ Spam Nuker craters the Plugin page in the Admin Panel. I guess I could run a simple SQL query, but that just doesn’t appeal to moose who are lazy AND stupid.

  5. Oh, hey, Markie…in your combatting spam guides, you will find that most, if not all of your links to Kitten’s spam tools are 404. She is no longer using WP, and all of her WP work is no longer available on her site. For those who may be interested, she has moved over to Drupal.

  6. drdave – thanks! I’ll link to it 🙂

    Craig – I use Bad-behavior / referer-karma / spam-karma and the time I have to devote to keeping my blog clear of carp is .. ooh…..hmm…..about 2 minutes a week. If that.
    As for the db spam – SK2 just kills it so it does not go there (a good idea) but this will do the job:
    SELECT * FROM `wp_comments` WHERE `comment_approved` = ‘spam’
    Drop that into the SQL box, hit go, then all the crap wil appear
    Scroll down > Check All > Delete.

  7. It must be over six months since any form of spam was visible on my site…and that was probably one comment because I forget to turn a couple of plugins on after an upgrade. If I didn’t look then I wouldn’t see it because behind the scenes is a different matter. At the moment my referral logs are useless because a spammer is trying a new trick that just isn’t working. But Dr Dave is right. For people who use logs a lot it’s a real issue, but that’s small fry to the potential load on CPU/Bandwidth. That’s well under control on my site, but I have seen referral logs swamped with requests every second for HOURS. These ejits have their finger in a lot of spamming methods as well. That’s why I have no problem in tracking them down and reporting where I can, and it works. Doesn’t mean that everybody needs to do it but I think enough people are to cause a problem to them.

    Education is a good point as well. I still see sites where people have no comment or trackback protection. I still see sites where people still leave referral logs wide open when they should be password protected. So you’ll never hear me say forget about it. It doesn’t matter on a day to day basis…but people should make themselves aware of the issues.

  8. craig – I’m going to mail Kitten later as I have all her plugins and I do get emails about them.

    gary – even with the two plugins I use, I noticed that some Ip’s that Etanisla posted about have got through, and as they spoof the UA, then IP blocking is back, and isn’t that a ‘bad thing’ ? I’m not being argumentative here, just trying to get my head around how we react. And if I don’t get it, loads won’t either.

  9. Don’t worry, loads don’t 🙂 IP blocking isn’t the answer because that’s normally zombies/proxies. There is a lot of UA cycling going on and you can’t block by that. Then it’s time for looking at other ways, which cleverer people than me would investigate. I only IP block when I’m getting a huge referral hit and it’s coming from one address…that’s only to stem a flood while I look at what’s happening and they get removed after a short time. Most of the plugins available at the moment block 90+% of the crap and the small bit left is where proxies can be tracked and hosting companies alerted to what’s happening.

    Take a browse through Anns site ( as she is doing a great job of explaining things and building a good resource. Wikis are starting to be built on this whole subject and I feel a bit guilty about not contributing to those, but I don’t have the time and other people are doing a far better job at the moment 🙂

  10. Mark,

    the two main reasons to block referer spam have been outlined already – they are cpu and the logs themselves. I like to examine my referer logs regularly to see where traffic to my site comes from. Referer spam makes this very difficult.

    I use a combination of Dr. Dave’s Referer Karma, my custom .htaccess file and my blacklist to stop spam. I haven’t had a comment spam in months now and my referrers are remarkably clear.

    I update my .htaccess file and blacklist once a fortnight or so to keep the referrers out.

    It is proving a remarkably successful combination.


  11. All of this spam bullshit has pushed me over the edge. The fucking spam plugins don’t stop anything, except legitimate users. I’m sick and tired of maintaining WordPress. I don’t do anything fun with my site any more. I simply deleted page after page after page of spam, and send emails to readers apologizing because I apparently can’t figure out how to configure the world’s most complex spam plugin.

    I’ve asked Matt for some time to clear out all of my shit, and by the end of June, Nuclear Moose will be internet history. Good fucking riddance, I say.

  12. Anybody know of a quick and easy way to delete all of the archived spam from the WP database? Chris’ Spam Nuker craters the Plugin page in the Admin Panel. I guess I could run a simple SQL query, but that just doesn’t appeal to moose who are lazy AND stupid.


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