If you haven’t yet read Mark Pilgrim’s “Club vs. Lojack Solutions” article from 2002, go catch up, then come back here.
“Otto” on the wp-hackers mailing list brought up the tried and true “hidden form field” solution for comment spam, remarking on how well it worked for him. It didn’t take long for people to point him to Pilgrim’s entry and tell him that if it were implemented in WordPress core (or even as a popular plugin), it would cease to be effective. The exchange reminded me of a “P.S.” to Pilgrim’s entry that I’ve been throwing around in my head:
Club solutions can be fairly effective if your Club is different from everyone else’s Club, and is constantly changing.
So hooray for Club makers. They have what it takes to put a huge dent in their comment spam. But what about everyone else, who doesn’t have the technical knowhow to invent a new Club every couple of weeks? We need a shape-shifting Club.
Andy Skelton told me about his shape-shifting Club at SXSW:
Who is “Milton?” You’ll have to read the post to find out. So, essentially, for each post, he’s defining a unique question, and a unique answer. He said that besides the anti-spam benefit, it also has the potential to weed out stupid commenters, or lazy commenters who didn’t read the whole article (he often makes the questions about something in the article). The downside is that he has to craft a new question/answer for each post.
So this is a good example of a shape-shifting Club that doesn’t require technical expertise. But what would be better is a Club that could shape-shift without user intervention, or at least with less user intervention. It would also have to shape-shift in a way that spammers couldn’t predict. Start thinking.