Reader Mail: Webmention Spam

I received an email yesterday from Eli Mellen, and with Eli's consent thought I am replying publicly.

The email in question:

Hey there!

No worries about this, but I wanted to let you know that something may be going awry with your website's implementation of webmentions -- you 'liked' one of my posts a while ago (https://eli.li/entry/20180314144847) and I've received 1 or 2 webmentions every day since. No big deal, but wanted to let you know in case that wasn't intentional.

All the best, Eli

My response:

Hey Eli!

Thanks for getting in touch.

Yes this is expected, but thanks for letting me know. Is this an issue for you? Ie are you getting a push notification each time and I need to stop that?

I remember having this conversation at the time I released my functionality and Aaron Parecki asked me to limit the number I sent to IndieWeb.org as it wasn't being handled right, but that technically I wasn't doing anything wrong as a webmention receiver should handle repeated notifications and de-duplicate them as required.

I do have some work on my backlog to send them more intelligently but I've not got round to that yet.

But as I say, if it is causing an issue for you please let me know.

Would you be OK me publishing both your email and my reply on my website, so others have a record of it if they want to ask the same thing?

Best, Jamie

And Eli's final reply:

Groovy! No issue on my end. I only noticed because I get a push with every one. I can mute those pretty easily, though.

I think the worry, as Aaron pointed out, is that a high volume of webmentions sent in this manner could quickly turn into something like a DDOS attack by accident. The volume is fairly low across the indieweb, but central hubs -- sites with more traffic -- could be susceptible.

If you're seeing lots of webmentions from me, I'm sorry but until I have put in the work to intelligently send the webmentions, this will happen for a while! It's been on my TODO list for a while, it turns out I hadn't raised the issue yet.

Written by Jamie Tanna's profile image Jamie Tanna on , and last updated on .

Content for this article is shared under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike 4.0 International, and code is shared under the Apache License 2.0.

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