Friday Repost: Preventing spam with Groovy and Grails

The Friday Repost series are copies from my earlier writings. Since I don’t want to loose them, and they might prove useful to others, I’m reposting them on this blog

When I created the website in Grails, one of my requirements was to have a blog. Since the website is created in Grails, and the Grails application doesn’t integrate easily with a standard blogging solution like WordPress, I decided to create my own blogging solution. But, since this proved to be much more painful than initially anticipated, I migrated the website to a new design and decided to use WordPress instead. However, the plugin creation was fun to do, so I’m sharing my experiences here.

The current blog consists of little more than just a BlogPost class, and a Comment class. This worked pretty well, and I got the blog up in no time. However, my blog was found by the spam bots, and it got spammed a little. In the first couple of days, I got 3 spam messages a day, which could be easily managed by hand (however still quite annoying). Then, the spam load increased to 10, 100 and then a 1000 per day. Then I got really annoyed, and decided it was time for a solution!

My solution was not to choose a Captcha. Captcha’s tend to bother the user, making it harder to post feedback. That’s not something I’d look forward to. So I created my own solution, based on how WordPress does it.

WordPress has their own spam blocking service, which is called Akismet. The nice thing about Akismet is that their service isn’t exclusive for WordPress, but they provide an API so others can also use it! Which is exactly what I did: I created a Grails plugin for Akismet, called (surprise surpise!): Grails Akismet! I’m sure you didn’t see that coming!

It’s very simple to use. Just do a ‘grails install akismet’, add your site plus the Aksimet key to your Grails configuration, and you’re good to go! The plugin provides a Grails Service, which can be injected into most Grails artifacts (like services, domains, and controllers). By using the ‘check for spam’ method in the AkismetService, a call to the online Akismet service is done, which determines if the comment is spam or not. Very easy, and very non-intrusive!

So, if you want to get started with the plugin, please check out the documentation and let me know what you think!

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