Blog of

The one where we face the God of Spam

Spam. Aka Internet Boss Level 1. The point where one of the many true faces of the Internet reveals itself.

There are a lot of spam blogs on Mataroa. I don’t care about them. They are not annoying since nobody has to visit them.

There are a lot of spam comments on Mataroa. I care about them. They are very annoying since blog authors and visitors are forced to see them.

The first solution I adopted was to turn off comments on my blog. Success and happiness filled my heart. But then other people started actually using Mataroa. They wanted comments and were rightfully annoyed by spam comments as their blog was becoming more popular.

There were a few solution to that:

  1. Fight spam with blocked IPs, dynamic-loaded comments, hidden fields, etc. Losing battle unless you're an Internet giant.
  2. Adopt CAPTCHA. Aka distilled death in the form of checkboxes, letters, numbers, road signs, photos, sliders and anything else we haven’t trained robots for—yet.
  3. Adopt an API such as Akismet. This means that every comment will be sent to Akismet to be checked for spam-ness. That’s a deep integration with a third-party, which I really don’t like.
  4. Hold all comments for review. Let blog authors approve them. I didn’t like this because I wanted to built a service where the blog author can only focus on writing—not care about whether a comment is spam.
  5. Hold all comments for review. Let a Mataroa moderation team approve them.

The last option won. It meant that blog authors wouldn't have to worry about spam at all—zero effort from them.

There was only one problem. The Mataroa moderation team is one person, myself, and that person has—at least—to sleep—at most—do anything else than approving/deleting comments throughout the day.

Thus, this option meant that a comment could potentially take lots of hours before getting reviewed. But, at least, blog authors would enjoy absolute relaxation and focus! The lack of frustration for all Mataroa users would be so awesome I wouldn’t mind approving a comment once in a while.

Now, maybe the reader thinks I underestimated the vigour of the Spam God. Nota bene, though, given the number of Mataroa blogs (1548 at time of writing—236 of which have comments enabled), there is, on average, a valid non-testing non-spam comment across the whole platform once every two days.

The problem with this solution wasn’t from the Moderation team, as one would expect1, but from the blog authors, who were rather unhappy with the review delay. They were very annoyed that they couldn’t see their test comments instantly, let alone review them themselves.

Such is the way we arrive at option number four, the comment system that is in production for the past 7 days.

There is a new dashboard page, Comments Pending, with the number of pending comments right next to it. Blog authors receive a notification when a new comment is posted and is ready to be reviewed—by them. They can either approve or delete. Lack of action means the comment will stay there—neither approved nor deleted. It will stay there forever.

And that’s the story of spam comments on Mataroa. Let us all learn something from it.


  1. I know this solution wouldn’t scale. But I’m a Grahamist.