The Hammer of Ban*

*And no, “Ban” is not an up-cycled traditional French men’s name. I literally mean “ban” as in “refuse access”

New self-hosted website, new world, brave new problems. So far I have been extremely lucky in the troll department *knocks on wood*. Mostly because my site is very small, possibly because the tiny niche of aspiring writer is a hard one to have a big old troll issue with? For whatever reason, I mostly got useful, legit comments on the old site.

No longer. The new site gets a few (I’m talking very few) more visitors a day and upwards of twenty spam comments a week now. SEO is magic I don’t pretend to understand, but there are plugins and Google analytics and lots of fancy things to show me exactly how little my presence on the worldwide web matters. I even have a spam filter, where the nasty little wigglies get trapped until I can squish them.

So far I’ve gotten:

  • incomprehensible words and numbers that sometimes made a sentence (the kind of sentence a monkey would make by rolling its head across the keyboard and letting spellcheck do the rest) with mentions of Jesus thrown in.
  • lots of overt shameless spammy selling (“Your website is not showing up well in SEO searches! Go check out our answer, boorfe’s tips! For free!)
  • other shameless spam (grow your website views by 2 million views today!)

 

banned by admin
my automatic reaction

Most recently, it’s been comments that seem pretty innocent or even nice but trip my “creepy possible hacker” instincts. They usually include a compliment (“Wow I really love your content! Bookmarking this site for future visits! My brother recommended I look at this site and I’m really glad I did!”)

Nothing obviously wrong with that. Grammar and spelling pretty much fine. No angry Jesus. But . . . not quite right. They usually don’t address the actual article they’re under. Nothing mentioned about the topic. Just a random compliment.

For these most recent commenters, if you’re actually going to read the article, here’s a tip: I canΒ see the website you left as your website address in the comment form, WITHOUT having to click on it and then get the virus you’re peddling.

100% of the time, that’s my biggest clue that these comments aren’t genuine. I hover over the address, see a nice little pre-screen of the website and . . . it’s a 404 error page. A blank page. A “user not available” blogger.com page also seems to be very popular. Once in a while it’s a “Here Have a Virus!” looking site that’s nominally about movies or video games. One was a straight up naughty site, gaping anatomy and all, so that was fun. It made me snort water through my nose, anyway.

Further tip: If the website looks iffy, I don’t give it the benefit of the doubt. Part of self-hosting means that I now have the ability to block IP addresses. You might have meant that compliment, but the website address you left does not look like it.

Randomness+Sketchy website=You will be Banhammered. No first chance.

banned
This is what happens. It looks *exactly* like this.

I didn’t come up with the term Banhammer, but man do I love it and I will use it with full credit given back toΒ Chris Breechen. IΒ  used the exact same gif here, too. It’s like we’re twins! Cybernetic, spiritual twins.

He runs a much bigger website, not to mention a Facebook page, and he uses the Banhammer daily on much more vicious trolls than I have to deal with. His post about dealing with Facebook comments is a funny and very interesting read, if you’re so inclined.

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