Thursday, August 09, 2007

CONTACT US Form Spammers Monitor Submit Results!

I have one CONTACT US form on a website that I leave less protected than other forms just to allow customers with their browser security dialed up tight to drop a line without getting caught in anti-spam snares.

Mind you, this page only sends an email to ME, nothing public, nothing nobody will ever see as I sure as hell won't look at the spam other to delete it, so it gives them ZERO value for their efforts, yet they persist.

So in the beginning there was a small trickle of spam on this form that started to escalate.

The first thing I did ages ago was I changed to the form to require a POST just to thwart them from their simple GET's dumping junk.

Eventually they switched to use a POST, but that means someone was monitoring response codes, but WHY?

The trickle of spam eventually came back.

So I changed a couple of fields just to alter the process and break their auto-spam tool.

A long nice quite period but obviously someone is watching and they adapted yet again.

Fine, so I made it a requirement that the page rejected the post unless they had accessed some other page on my site first, which would be a normal user thing.

This caused a longer period of blissful silence.

Then here comes the spam yet AGAIN!

OK, fine, let's try embedding something in the page unique per visitor so if you don't get the CONTACT US page first, and use that parameter, it will reject the submit.

This just blew my fucking mind when a few days later they adapted to first get the page, get all parameters from the form, then POST the page!

OK, now we know someone is fucking watching this page...


I made a change that you can't see in the HTML, it's all server side, knock your fucking socks off trying to adapt this time.

I still don't see why the spammers would bother as they're just wasting time.

Nobody will ever see their spams, NEVER EVER, but I can play this cat and mouse game as long as they can.

All this trouble just because I didn't want to annoy visitors with a captcha on a single page, or require cookies or javascript to be enabled.

If they push me too hard the captcha gets installed.

FYI, I'm watching the someone trying to fix their form post to my site as I'm writing this. They've made about 10 attempts now and it's still not getting through. This must be making him nuts as I don't give them any clues why the submit isn't working except a generic error that the submit failed and please try again!

Let's see what happens next...

UPDATE: The spambots were hammering away at that forum trying to figure out what I did for days with literally hundreds of post attempts from a couple of IPs. Probably the spambot herder trying to figure out my latest anti-spam hack. Then it stopped, not a single POST from those sources and it's back to normal with only real posts from humans.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Yahoo's RSS Feed Refresh is SLOW!

One of my sites has a dynamic RSS feed and it sends a refresh ping to Yahoo every time new content is added to the feed. Sometimes the content is added slowly over the course of the day, sometimes content is added more rapidly and new items are added to the feed almost back to back.

The code managing the feed is simple in that it simply updates the RSS feed and pings all the refresh services in real time as the data becomes available.

If you add more than one item in a minute or two what does Yahoo say?

Refresh failed: Too soon
Too soon for what?

Too soon for more new content?

Too soon for your crappy refresh servers to keep pace with reality.

Why don't you just queue it up because I've already told you that the content you previously had is already OUT OF DATE but noooooooo, it's TOO SOON to refresh because we're Yahoo and we have silly rules in place to protect our fragile servers.

Well guess what?

You need a new error called: "TOO LATE!" as your version of the feed is older than everyone else's that could keep up.

As a matter of fact I thought I'd try it ONE MORE TIME as I figured in the time it took to type this blog post that Yahoo would've allowed the RSS feed update by now so I manually pinged their server and you guessed it "TOO SOON! TOO SOON! WE'RE YAHOO AND WE CAN'T KEEP UP!"