Here at The Slacktiverse we hope to be as transparent as possible without violating confidentiality.
Unfortunately we don’t always know when things appear to be opaque simply because we incorrectly presume that other people know things that they don't actually know (imagine here one of those annoying rom-com movies where everyone is talking at cross purposes.) This is especially frustrating for the other people because from their point of view there is no reason why they should (or even could) know those things.
So today I will share some information about spam, and its removal and prevention, that some of us know and some of us have never had a reason to know.
What is spam? 
To quote TypePad:
Spam comments are unsolicited and anonymous, and often contain links or offers. TypePad AntiSpam catches most spam.
Are the links always in the body of the spam?
No, sometimes the “name” of the poster will be the link
What type of places/things are linked to? 
Sometimes the links are to sites that sell legal things like baseball caps, or get-rich-quick schemes and sometimes they are to sites that are illegal and (to our community) deeply disgusting.
Why are “they” spamming “us”? 
Spammers work in volume. It basically costs them no more to send out a link-laden comment to 100,001 sites than it does it send it to 100,000 sites. Once a website’s address is on the spammer’s list it will be included whenever spam gets sent out.
Why can’t you/TypePad block them?
We try. Every time a comment gets reported to TBAT as spam we check it out and “mark” it as such. That removes the comment from the board and at the same time it is automatically reported to TypePad as spam. TypePad’s spam-catcher is heuristic. It “learns” from experience. If you go back through Fred Clark’s old posts you can read about the effort it took for the spam-catcher to become as sophisticated as it is today. The spam-catcher was at one point sometimes capturing innocent long term posters' comments while missing those of actual spammers. Fred had to go through thousands of comments and mark each piece of spam as such while individually “unspamming” comments incorrectly caught by the blocker.
If the spam-catcher is so good why does some spam still get through?
There is an arms race between spammers and spam catchers. There are people out there right now working on ways of “getting through” the protections that websites are putting up against them. Every time a piece of spam gets through it is flagged and reported. The people who maintain the “catcher” work to update it. The spammer works to break through again. TypePad updates their system. It never stops.
Why can’t you do something about the people who are doing the spamming?
Let’s leave aside the “annoying but not illegal” spamming and look only at the people who send out links to sites that contain material that is illegal. Since the people who are running those websites are doing something that could end in jail time (or death in some countries) they work to hide themselves.
Each “come to our website that contains illegal material” comment comes from a location/ip address/email address and links to one or more websites.
One of things people can do to deal with the problem is try to turn those websites off. We are usually able to track down the company through which these websites are registered. If those companies are located in the US, the UK, Canada, Australia and a number of other countries their own terms of service require that they remove any site which knowingly hosts material such as child p*rn*gr*phy. It is possible, however, for part of a website to be highjacked by someone who doesn’t own the website. Consequently many companies investigate the site and warn its legal owners about the problems before shutting it down.
What about catching the person who posted the comment? 
It is hard to catch the commenter/poster for a number of reasons.
1) it is trivially easy to get a disposable email address, use it for a day, and then disappear never to use it again.
2) it is trivially easy to change the ip address from which you are apparently posting. It trivially easy to appear to be posting from different countries.
3) it is quite possible that the person who owns the computer from which the message was posted is completely innocent and unaware of that fact they have been unknowingly providing cover for the real commenter.
How can someond not know that they are sending out spam? 
(Just caught a piece of spam the spam-catcher missed. The comment was short but generic. It was on an old post. The link was the poster’s url.)
That person's computer has become part of a botnet. What is a botnet? To quote the Microsoft Safety and Security Center: The term bot is short for robot. Criminals distribute malicious software (also known as malware) that can turn your computer into a bot (also known as a zombie). When this occurs, your computer can perform automated tasks over the Internet, without you knowing it.
The botnets are very similar to armies of zombies. The computer user follows a link not realizing that the destination is actually a harvesting site. Once at that site malware is downloaded to their computer. Their computer is now under the control of people who will use it to send out comments to yet other boards where other innocent readers can be lured to sites that will harvest their
Why can’t you just go to the police? 
Jurisdictional issues and lack of proof. If I drive down to my local police station, fire up my laptop and show them the spam on the website I will be showing them material that was posted on a website whose server is in another country. The comments themselves were apparently sent from a computer in a third country. The website to which the comments link is registered through a company in another country and the domain’s physical server appears to be in yet another country.
Does this mean nothing is being done?
No. People who have better protected computers than any of us will be going to those websites attempting to identify the people involved.
Should members of our community go to these sites looking for clues about the people involved/being hurt?
No. There is no safe way for the ordinary member of our community to go to these sites. At the very least you will probably encounter malware/viruses. At the worst, if the site is being monitored by the police, you could be misidentified as a client.
Then would can we do?
TBAT appreciates members of our community who find and report spam that gets through the spam-catcher. We remove the spam and report it to TypePad and other relevant authorities.
Keeping your anti-virus/malware programs up to date will help to protect you from becoming part of a botnet.
What are those numbers in square brackets 
Those are updates on the number of spam comments in the TypePad spam catcher while I was typing this. It has been a slow day so far. 
[7252 after proofreading]
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