Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

In order to post comments on a website, you need to have your computer configured in a way so that spam prevention programs can work. Otherwise, you'll get errors.

Leo, I'm unable to post comments on your site anymore because of suspected spam. I've asked this question before but I wonder if it's because I have two email addresses registered to you? I started with a Yahoo account but registered with my Gmail account when I was having trouble logging into my Yahoo. I've checked Javascript and that doesn't seem to be the problem either. I'm not sure what looks suspicious but I've successfully posted to three other sites today and would love to be able to interact with your site as before.

In this excerpt from Answercast #87, I look at the ways that the comment form on Ask Leo! is programmed to reduce the amount of spam that gets posted to the site.

Post comments on a website

Well, to be clear, the site, the actual website "ask-leo.com" doesn't have any registration. You're not registered with the site no matter how many email addresses you have or how many different email addresses you might leave in a comment.

The site just doesn't keep track of any that kind of stuff. It's a free site; anybody can access it so there's no need for registration.

If you're thinking of the newsletter subscription, that's completely separate from the website. There's actually no relationship to it and there's nothing about your newsletter subscription or your newsletter subscription's email address that is actually technically connected to the site in any way so don't let that confuse you.

The email addresses simply aren't an issue.

JavaScript to filter spam

So there are two things that come to mind. The JavaScript issue is the technique that I use to prevent spammers from spamming.

What the site does is that when you click on Submit comment, it is actually replaced on the fly by JavaScript with the right thing; the actual post of comment code.

If the JavaScript doesn't run, then the site is unable to process a comment and you get the error message that says, "Hey, I can't take your comment because it looks like JavaScript's not enabled."

So if JavaScript couldn't run when you loaded the page and viewed the page, then it couldn't set up the technique that's used to actually post a comment.

Website spam

That actually removes a tremendous amount of spam from the website. Website spam is bad enough... but this simple technique actually thwarts a tremendous amount of what we refer to as automated comment spam. Basically, bots that go out to different websites and post comments.

So, it's still fundamentally about JavaScript in that case.

Now you may have JavaScript enabled - but if something is preventing it from running (and that could be your anti-malware software; it could be anything) then whatever is preventing that JavaScript from running somehow - anyhow - will prevent you from being able to post a comment on my site.

I apologize, but it's a technique that I have to use simply because of the overwhelming amount of comment spam that would come in otherwise.

Posting numerous links

The other thing that comes to mind is if you're actually able to post a comment, but you then get a message that it's being "held for moderation."

One of us, (myself or one of my assistants) will in fact get around to looking at that comment, and if it's valid will go ahead and approve it - and it will get posted on the site.

The trigger there is the number of URLs. Again, because of spammers, we have to be careful. Spammers like to throw in lots of URLs into their comments.

Even with human spammers (where they pay low paid workers in foreign countries to run around and post spam on all of these sites), one of the things they do is they post spam that has lots of URLs.

Many websites will in fact hold for moderation any comment that includes more than three URLs. If your comment is being held for moderation, if that's what you're seeing, that's all it is and your comment will eventually get through.

(Transcript lightly edited for readability.)

Article C6240 - January 13, 2013 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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5 Comments
Tony
January 14, 2013 11:24 AM

In my case "held for moderation" isn't the problem, and I wasn't including URLs in my comment either. The actual message popping up is "looks like you're
using one of the techniques comment-spammers use". I appreciate you need to protect yourself, but why would I appear that way to the filter on one site and not on others? Does no other site use the java script technology?

Tony
January 14, 2013 11:33 AM

The above comment got through but I'm not conscious I fixed anything. We'll see how it goes from here on.

Ken B
January 15, 2013 7:34 AM

While I don't get any popup telling me it looks like it might be spam, I have noticed that upon submitting my comment, it doesn't appear. However, I figured out that it's apparently related to my browser's cache, since pressing F5 to reload the page causes my comment to "magically" appear.

Andrea Stevenson
January 15, 2013 3:01 PM

I while back I posted a comment on AskLeo, and for a while it didn't appear. Since I seen something similar happen... apparently due to the time difference between where I am (Australia) and the American server. So I'm posting this at 10am Australian Eastern Daylight Saving time, out of curiosity to see if there is indeed a delay...

Mark J
January 15, 2013 10:55 PM

@Andrea
It's not a time zone difference. It's just the way posting a comment works. After posting a comment your browser displays the version of the page which is stored on your computer in the browser cache. In that case, you need to refresh the page by clicking F5 in order to see your post.

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