This war of attrition is driving me bananas!

As I spent the last two hours unable to log into this site to write a blog post, I thought I would break with the usual pattern of looking for something interesting to write about and lay the blog problem out for the world to see.

Without naming names of any of the parties who are offering me advice and opinions, I am faced with what ought to be a fairly simple question:

Should I continue with Movable Type, or should I move to WordPress?

Sounds simple, right? Well, here's the problem. I have been on MT since 2003, and I want my archives to be fully accessible. I want everything to look the same way as it has always looked and for the older links to always link to their respective older posts.

I recently upgraded MT (to which I want to remain loyal), and that has not only not solved the endless spam problem, it has made it worse. The blog was so overwhelmed by spammers this morning that it shut down.

Here's what my hosting service (a really good one, to which I want to remain loyal) said:

"your site was going absolutely bananas. We wound up rebooting the thing because it wouldn't come under control."

And the explanation:

"It looks like spammers hammering away at your MT scripts. Unfortunately, given MT's lack of throttling or significant antispam implementation, the only thing we can do when they roll through is try to crush them - or, in this case, when the CGI processes have brought the server to its knees, reboot the thing. Just another day in the tech life."

I'm going bananas too, but I replied thusly:

"As I recently spent money on an MT upgrade, and I am considering spending a lot more on a facelift, this is bad news. My problem is that my links go back eight years now and I want them all to work (which does not seem to happen when blogs are converted to Wordpress). I wish I had been warned back in 2003 that MT would lead to problems like this, but I seem to be stuck with it, and it is apparently going to be expensive. It was very difficult even finding someone to work with me. Oh well. I'm just lucky to have a good hosting service!"

As I just said to Sarah in an email, this just plain sucks. I am not a geek, but a blogger. I only want to write posts, but everyone in the business seems to have one opinion or another, and I don't know who or what to believe anymore.

All I know is I hate change, especially when change creates problems. This is really no one's fault but the damned spammers. They keep getting better and better in their endless war of attrition and they are forcing my hand.

Seriously, the newer, more intelligent spam bots can and do actually leave comments which relate to the subject of the blog posts! Utterly maddening, and difficult to spot. I am seeing spammers lurking everywhere.

I suppose I could turn off comments, but I don't want to do that. I had thought that new comment filter which came with the upgrade was doing its job, because very few get through, but apparently that isn't the problem, so much as the fact that they are endlessly trying to get through, which eats up huge amounts of bandwidth and finally makes everything go bananas.

Does anyone who have an opinion on any of this? Because I am going bananas.

Seriously, I don't want to be doing this, because there's another war of attrition (you know, between the pro-socialist and the anti-socialist camps, which keeps getting mucked up by the culture war equivalent of spam) that I would rather not be fighting but feel obligated to fight. 

Nothing like being distracted from a war you don't want to fight by a war you don't want to fight. Sometimes I worry about my internal hard drive.

MORE: An additional explanation from my hosting service:

Unfortunately, MT hasn't seemed to have come up with anything that will help throttle against this sort of thing. The problem with CGIs is that they spawn new instances of themselves for every access. So, a spammer script that can generate a hundred requests in the span of two seconds can rapidly exhaust the memory and max out the CPUs at the same time.

If that is true, then MovableType just plain sucks.

And because I cannot move to WordPress without archive issues, I may be SOL.

And yes, there are archive issues, as I have seen them. There are countless bloggers I have linked over the years (many of whom I read and respect) who have moved to WP, and their old links no longer work. I want what I have written to remain.

posted by Eric on 04.09.11 at 12:08 PM


Wow. I was going to e-mail you that I couldn't get to the blog to read it or post.

One solution: buy a new url. Do a last post redirecting people to the new url.

BTW blogspot is pretty good these days and it is free. Of course if you want a custom look it may be a LOT easier with Wordpress.

M. Simon   ·  April 9, 2011 12:44 PM

I tried to leave a comment this morning, possibly the best comment I'd ever written, possibly the best comment ever in the history of the intertubes, but the screen just froze for like 10 minutes.
I went to another part of the intertubes and left that "tab" working.

I finally gave up and the comment was lost.

The world mourns.

DPUD moved to wordpress and their spam-catcher is pretty darn good. We used to get hit hard and hit often and now, the spam-catcher works pretty well.

It would be a pain, but you could do what M. Simon says, the downside being you'd need a new URL.

Veeshir   ·  April 9, 2011 1:01 PM

Veeshir, sorry about your comment. But maybe you can recreate it; mourning may be premature.

I was thinking that there might be some way to have an independent, external comment feature that does not rely on MT but ties in somehow, so I could just turn off comments to stop the spammers yet still allow them (even though they would be elsewhere).

But not being a geek, I lack basic knowledge or expertise.

Eric Scheie   ·  April 9, 2011 1:26 PM

I tried but all I can remember is something about big breasts and the Civil War.

Veeshir   ·  April 9, 2011 2:09 PM

big breasts and the Civil War

Veeshir are you sure you aren't a spambot? Could you have been infected?


Eric Scheie   ·  April 9, 2011 3:34 PM

Yes you can move to Wordpress. There are conversion scripts to move your database.

You'd have to get someone who knows WP setup well enough (and has the time) to make your archive and post links the same as in this blog (luckily yours are all logically arranged). And make a template that looks like this one (which looks pretty easy, actually).

But it is possible. And, yes, you CAN make WP files say .html at the end.

However, the easiest way to do it would be to make a new blog, put a post up top redirecting to that, and gradually close comments on the old MT. (Yes, there are scripts to close comments on posts older than X date - or where. I quit supporting MT about 6 years ago.) You'd then just link old archives the same way you link your old blogspot posts now.

Kathy Kinsley   ·  April 9, 2011 6:28 PM

Oh, and I just did some Googling. MT HAS come up with a comment throttle for things like that. HOWEVER, in typical MT fashion, it throttles ALL comments. (I did mention I quit supporting them years ago?) Which means, you'd miss all the gems of wisdom (heh) from your legitimate commenters until the attack stopped.

Kathy Kinsley   ·  April 9, 2011 6:35 PM

Thanks M. Simon, and Kathy.

I am looking into this and appreciate all ideas.

Something about the recent tsunami does not make sense, though. Even in the normal spam sense.

Eric Scheie   ·  April 10, 2011 10:13 AM

It seems that preventing comments from getting through does not solve the problem, which is that the spammers use up massive amounts of bandwidth trying. So, the goal should not be so much one of blocking spam comments as it would be to restrict access to people who are legitimate readers.

Probably as likely as world peace!

Eric Scheie   ·  April 10, 2011 10:27 AM

"It seems that preventing comments from getting through does not solve the problem, which is that the spammers use up massive amounts of bandwidth trying."

Yes and no. A simple "not here" response uses up a good deal less bandwidth (and CPU time) than the usual 'filter' type of anti-spam. And simply closing the old comments does the same.

And I've been hit (back when I was really blogging) by them. What happens (in very simple terms) is that one of a 'network' of compromised spam computers gets your address. Then they all get your address and go to town.

Kathy Kinsley   ·  April 10, 2011 6:30 PM

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