It’s What You Don’t Know You Should Know That Gets You

So often it is the questions you don’t know you should ask that get you in trouble. The things that blow up when you didn’t even know they were something to worry about.

It’s one of the reasons that, as a CPA, I stayed in the accounting realm rather than the tax realm. I always felt that no matter how many IRS rules I knew, there would always be some obscure law, the ignorance of which would cause me to unwittingly commit tax fraud and send myself and my client to jail.  Worst case scenario.

Also, taxes are boring.

Recently, I encountered one of those “cluelessness is not bliss” episodes when my blog was attacked by spammers.

A few weeks ago, I published a post about a delicious Guinness Beef Stew made in my crockpot.  I got a few comments on the post but not as many as I would have expected given the awesomeness of this recipe.

Maybe folks are busy, I thought, or overwhelmed with the winter weather, or occupied making the stew and drinking some Guinness.

Then, on January 24th while sitting in Logan Airport waiting for my flight after a quick visit to the gandbabies, I received this email from my blog pal Vicki at Life In My Empty Nest.

email

Well that’s strange…

Little did I know just how strange it was.

I started poking around “under the hood” of my blog settings and didn’t see anything unusual.  I did a copious number of Google searches trying to see if there was a system-wide problem, tried a few suggestions and hoped that was that.

But it was like trying to prove a negative.  Were comments not showing up because of a problem or was it because I was busy with the move and not giving folks new posts to comment on.

I had no way of knowing until more of my fabulous blog pals recognized that my site was still having issues.

The Dose Girls, Dana from Kiss My List, Kelly McKenzie, Kristen from 31 Million Seconds, Catherine from Dear Vixen and others were kind enough to reach out to let me know:

Houston – we have a problem.

AARRGGHH!!!

Back under the hood, I poked around a little more.  Sometimes it seems like I know just enough to be dangerous and not enough to be effective.

The first thing I noticed was that comments from about ten of my peeps had been flagged as spam.  Huh…odd…  Well, no worries, I’ll just “approve them” and we’ll be all set.

I didn’t know enough to know that I was being waved down by a GIANT RED FLAG.

I’m not sure what made me take this next step – frustration, curiosity, divine intervention – but something make me click on a tab called Akismet Stats. I had never looked at these stats before and had no idea that I should be.

It’s what you don’t know you should know that gets you.

The bloggers among you recognize Akismet as a nifty tool that does a championship job of identifying and blocking spam. I like to think of it as the bouncer at the front door of my blog, keeping the unsavory characters out.

This is what my stats showed:

Akismet stats

The green bars show spam detected.

Not good, right?

For months I had skipped along, being troubled by only a handful of malicious spammers, quite blissfully unaware of their presence because Akismet took care of the dirty work.

Then came December. And January.  4,553 spam comments detected in a two-month period.

I was under attack.

Finally I did what I should have done much earlier. I called in the big guns, my incredible webmaster Michele Bergh. One of the smartest things I did when I got serious about blogging was sign up for a maintenance plan with her. It’s all about peace of mind.

In no time, Michele was on the case. I have no idea how she solved the problem (obviously, I like to live in a world of blissful ignorance) but I know it took a great deal of effort and brainpower.  Now – fingers crossed – things appear to be all better.

But please let me know if you experience any glitches. Hopefully, I will know what to look for and what questions to ask.

Lessons learned from this experience:

  • If you don’t understand something ask questions. Ignoring problems won’t make them go away. I know, I’ve tried.
  • If you see something, say something. I will pay forward the kindness shown to me by alerting other bloggers to problems I experience on their site.
  • Some things are best left to the professionals. That’s why Michele is on my team.

Now that I’m no longer buried under piles of moving boxes and packing tape, I’m optimistic that Mocadeaux is back on track and I can return to doing what I love – connecting with all of you.

So what about you? Has your blog ever been attacked by spammers? Have you ever been sunk by something you didn’t know to look out for? Titanic + Iceberg = Disaster?

 

[By the way, if any of you bloggers are in need of the safety net of a maintenance plan, let me know and I will pass along Michele’s contact information.]

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Comments

  1. So glad the blogsite problems have been solved! (Yikes, I hope I didn’t jinx it). Thanks for sharing all the tech info – it may come in handy one day.

  2. I get so much Spam but luckily it’s almost always caught by Akismet. Sometimes those spammers say really nice things though!
    Kate recently posted…This post is dedicated to my sisterMy Profile

    • The weird thing was I never saw the messages in the spam folder. I guess that’s why it took me so long to realize what was happening. Seems the sheer volume crashed my site. I’m usually amused by spammers’ comments. Not so much this time!!
      Mo Lux recently posted…I Survived Moving WeekMy Profile

  3. Oh Mo this gives me the shivers. How horrible. How wonderful that Michele is on board. She’s on my team as well. I’ll be on the alert for similar issues (KNOCK ON WOOD – NO!) and will certainly seek help from her asap.
    May THIS never happen to you again.
    Kelly McKenzie recently posted…Olympic Valentine’s Day TreatMy Profile

    • And may it never happen to any of us, again. I wouldn’t mind if it happened to the spammers. Maybe their nastiness would implode and they’d see the error of their ways. I would have been sunk without Michele!
      Mo Lux recently posted…I Survived Moving WeekMy Profile

  4. Glad you got it worked out. I know that Askimet catches most of my spam but I think it seems like an abnormally high number every day – hopefully I don’t have issues I don’t know about!!
    Kim recently posted…Is Curling Really a Sport?My Profile

  5. GAH!!!!! Just reading this made me anxious!
    We’ve not had anything terrible happen (that we know of…and now I’m knocking on wood) but how *wonderful* to have a professional like Michele on your team!! I think we need someone like that. We just dabble in the back end of blogging. Like you said, we know just enough to be totally dangerous. I want a Michele!! I’d love her info!!
    So glad you are back and better than ever!! We can’t do without our Mocadeaux!!!! –Lisa
    The Dose of Reality recently posted…The Dose Girls Are SpooningMy Profile

  6. So far so good (knocking on wood). My blog has been down a few times due to some kind of attack on the servers, but Bluehost took care of it. I noticed a huge increase in spam comments last month (like hundreds a day), but Akismet caught them all. Now I seem to be back down a bit. Glad you are all fixed! Thanks for the shout out too – sometimes I wonder if I’m being annoying when I tell people something is amiss on their blog. But I’d want them to tell me.
    Dana recently posted…A good cryMy Profile

  7. Yikes! Glad you go to the bottom of it. Reminds me to check under the hood myself-thanks!!!
    Deanna recently posted…Taking It Easy During the Polar Vortex.My Profile

  8. Thank goodness for Akismet because they have saved me from a gazillion spam comments. I have to approve everyone the first time the way my comments are set up, and lately I have gotten a few spam comments that I have actually seen and had to flag myself. I’ve also been attacked a couple times and WordFence has been my savior. I’m sorry this happened…it had to have been so frustrating!
    Michelle recently posted…Power Up On The Go with RAVPower® #GiveawayMy Profile

  9. Yes, I have been attacked – twice. But it’s been (knock on wood) over a year now. I have site-lock on my WP account, have always had Akismet and those 2 times I turned to a professional too. It’s so frustrating, isn’t it? Hard not to take it personal – and in any event – am glad you’re up and running again.

  10. My eye is still twitching at the tax comment. LOL! I HATE TAXES. I would do cost accounting standing on my head to avoid doing taxes. Yet, it cracks me up how many people think because you have an accounting degree – or several – you are an expert at taxes. SHOOT ME NOW. I hate this time of year and I don’t even DO taxes!

    Glad everything is working right again! Its scary when something like that breaks on your blog. I do know that sometimes your plugins can open backdoors for bad people like that too… but I am sure Michelle has you covered for that. 🙂

    Julia
    Julia recently posted…Open-Faced Garlic Bread SandwichesMy Profile

  11. i had a weird issue where i was trying to post a comment, but then it didn’t appear. i went back and i saw that the three times i tried to post eventually took, but sorry if i looked like an idiot! hope it’s all better now 🙂

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