Websites and parasites: fighting back

rat trap

No game this weekend – though we should, of course, have been playing Southampton in the FA Cup – so it seems the right time to deal with a spot of necessary admin: how to combat a scourge of the internet age …

Salut! Sunderland
, and its sister sites Salut! , Salut! Live and Salut! North, have been infested by an ugly, virulent pest called the website parasite.

The aim of the people posting comments which appear at first glance to be genuine, but can quickly be seen to be bogus and probably generated by computers, is to produce artificially inflated stats for visits to their own, usually unrelated sites or promote Viagra, medicines or whatever else they are trying to flog.

Many Salut! readers will have seen my recent item on how someone or something calling him/itself Andrew A Sailer added such a comment to Pete Sixsmith’s excellent and moving tribute to Stephen “Squinny” Wilson, the Sunderland fan murdered outside a Bishop Auckland pub.

I have not the time to go through the many bogus comments that have already been posted at my sites, but I do aim to deal with these vermin-like creatures whenever I come across them from now on.

Accordingly, in you see a comment on a current or archived article that starts with the statement NB: I am a cretinous web parasite, and which may have had a link deleted, you will know that I have been beneath the Salut! bonnet and done a bit of tinkering.

If anyone else has ideas on how to block these peoples or things, without also making it harder for genuine readers to leave their welcome comments, please let me know at or in a comment below. Natural justice: Andrew A Sailer’s pernicious bit of self promotion can only now be seen if you opt in to reading it, since so many of you clicked the thumbs down icon that it now has the automatic note “hidden due to low comment rating” attached.

And if you’d like a reminder of how Pete recorded poor Squinny’s unjust and premature death, go to

Colin Randall

* Rat trap photo taken, with thanks, from the Flickr pages of Rennett Stowe (as authorised by the Creative Commons guidelines).

6 thoughts on “Websites and parasites: fighting back”

  1. Yeah, spammers are the bane of t’internet.

    The difference in using the built-in anti-spam systems is that, over time, the anti-spam tools build a database of spammers (in the background), across our network, for all FootballUnited bloggers. (& have already blocked 18,000 spam comments on Salut Sunderland 😉

    Hurling abuse at spammers feels good, but doesn’t do any good. The people posting spam are paid to do it… so long as their links remain in place for (usually) 36 hours. So they’ll keep coming back.

    Clicking the ‘spam’ link in you Dashboard is quick, long-term, and helps everybody.

    We’ve set the Default settings to give everybody good protection & minimal intrusion.

  2. Hi Colin

    When you Log In to your Admin Dashboard, you should see a section called ‘At a Glance’.
    That shows how many Comments you have, marked either as Approved, Pending, or Spam. It’s worth checking through all three.

    If you click on one of the status words, it”ll show you all the Comments in that category.
    Then, as you mouseover each comment, you have the option to:
    Unapprove | Spam | Delete | Edit | Quick Edit | Reply

    Because the Askimet system learns as you prune spam, and will reduce your workload over time. It’s a cloud system, so it learns from everybody on FootballUnited, and elsewhere.

    If you look amongst your Plugins, you’ll see WP-SpamFree – which dramatically reduces spam comments. We prefer this one to all the others precisely because it doesn’t rely on a Captch code… which are so often impossible to read.

    You readers can help by Reporting a Comment: we review & moderate reported content from all FootballUnited blogs, every day.

  3. You need to get one of those “bot” detecting things, where you need to input a code/word etc before posting, taken from an image shown on the screen. It has to be an image, otherwise the bots can read the letters and get past it.

    not sure how to implement it on the website, or what it is officially called.

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