Akismet Changes

Spam. We all hate it. Those rogue comments in emails, blog posts, forum threads, you name it, it's everywhere. Those of us in the blogosphere have so far been blessed with a wonderful utility called Akismet. A world-wide database of spam data used by millions of people to block comment spam. I've been using it here myself for the last three years now and have hardly suffered a bit from the deluge. They're that good. Until early this morning that is.

I logged on to find a bunch of spam had piled up. It wasn't the first time, a week or so ago a small wave got through and dirtied things up a bit here. This time was different though. Akismet kept telling me the API key used to validate users was bad. I couldn't understand why as I'd made no changes to the code that deals with this. So I did some PHP hacking and realized the return values coming back from the servers had changed. It used to be that you'd simply get "valid" or "true" or "false" back as answers and nothing more. Today, it's coming back with things like "5 valid 0" and "6 valid 14", etc in the HTML response. So much for being able to rely on consistent return values.

So I set about trying to find out WTF happened. No mention of this at all on the Akismet site. The 3rd party plugins they have listed for people to use are all still expecting the same data format as usual. Finding no indication of a change there, I set off to Google and ran across someone else who has just recently encountered the same problem. I felt much better knowing that I hadn't screwed something up, but it means I get to fix my code here to parse the new responses so that the filter will return to working order. Thanks Akismet :/

Oh, and to you spammers, Jesus, enough is enough already.
"It is pointless to resist, my son." -- Darth Vader
"Resistance is futile." -- The Borg
"Mother's coming for me in the dragon ships. I don't like these itchy clothes, but I have to wear them or it frightens the fish." -- Thurindil

Well. I guess that's that then.

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Posted on Feb 15, 2010 12:01 am by Samson in: | 17 comment(s) [Closed]
Anonymous [Anon] said:
Comment #1 Feb 15, 2010 3:58 am



And these have what relevance to the issue of Akismet?

The card game picture is .... interesting .... but I don't get it?

You've been told plenty of times before that we all dislike Cratylus. I'm not sure what you're trying to get at here. If you're trying to insult him, go to mudbytes. They love insulting people there. If you're trying to insult me, try harder.

Let's keep things on topic, shall we? Next time something dumb like this shows up where it doesn't belong I'm just going to axe it, and if you get truly annoying about it, I'll send it as a spam hit and you'll find it becoming increasingly difficult to post anything here at all, and possibly elsewhere using the same filter. Think about this before you take another swipe in this direction. Your static IP paints a target on your back that isn't easy to get rid of.

One other thing I noticed in the PHP 5 class I'm using for Akismet.

$this->akismetVersion = '1.11';

That had to be changed to:

$this->akismetVersion = '111';

Basically removing the decimal. Leaving it in was generating 404 errors. So not only did they mess with the responses, they messed with the actual paths on the webserver. It would really have been nice of them to say something somewhere about these changes.

I am starting to wonder if Samson is having erection problems, lots of spam for viagra sites. LOL sorry could not help myself, no offense intended. Hope you nail down whats allowing them through.

Oh, I've nailed it down just fine. The Akismet server is returning bad response messages as outlined above. They've changed something in how the server handles the requests, but they don't seem to want to admit to that despite my having shown them in several emails now. Yes, I'm on top of the spam but it's getting tiresome.

Right. Ok. So as it turns out you have to use HTTP 1.0 requests to communicate with their servers even though they say you can use HTTP 1.1 and the PHP 5 class I originally downloaded and have been using for 3 years has been using HTTP 1.1. Somewhere along the way the guy who wrote said PHP 5 class updated his code to send HTTP 1.0 but never told anyone and never bumped the version on his class so nobody using it this long ever knew that.

Long story short, it's fixed, and the filthy spammers are once again at bay.

Long story short, it's fixed, and the filthy spammers are once again at bay.

With the exception of Anon who will put all kinds of out of topic crap in threads. LOL'

Well, yeah, except for Anon. I think we can deal with him easily enough. Though I'm still wondering exactly what the point of the card game one is.

Also, while working out this whole mess over HTTP/1.1 vs HTTP/1.0 it occurs to me how ridiculously simple it is to write these HTTP scripts to fire POST data all over the place. No wonder spambots are so common :(

Though I'm still wondering exactly what the point of the card game one is.

About all i can make of it is one person is raging while the others laugh at them. Which if that is the case, it really makes no sense at all to me.

Sorry, been much busier than I'd have liked between trying to run errands and catch up on email and such, but I'm very glad to hear that you figured out what the problem was and even happier to hear that you've resolved it. Akismet should be ashamed of themselves for changing important data formats without saying anything to anyone knowing how many sites they've got relying on them so heavily. As for the card game, who knows.

Oh images are kind of whack on this page too. Dont know if you caught it.

I saw it, but it's just the ones posted by anonymous regarding Cratylus so I wasn't very worried about it. *shrug*
I don't know if they showed up properly for Samson or not, but he may very well have felt the same way too.

Hadn't noticed that image thing actually since it's down the page a bit. Must be a bug caused by the added UI controls. I really hate HTML/CSS sometimes. Especially when things quit working right.

Sticking a paragraph tag after the img tag seems to have fixed it but that shouldn't have mattered. Hmmm.

Maybe you could put a paragraph tag into the closure image tag via CSS so it's automatically added since that seems to resolve the problem? On the other hand, I agree, one would certainly expect that the closing image tag really should already have accomplished the same thing on it's own.

It's never been needed before. I think it's the addition of the new UI controls that broke it. Just for kicks I took both paragraph tags out and it messed it up badly enough I needed to go to the ACP to undo the damage because the UI links got swallowed.

There we go. I found it. I remember now why the template had an extra forced paragraph after the body text of a post or comment. :)

*LOL* So it had been in there before for a reason after all, eh? :D

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