I've found that switching back and forth between registration-only and totally-open comments seems to be working well to thwart the spERmmers pretty well. If I can spend the majority of your time offering no-hoops commenting, by golly I'll do it! Plan B, based on your advice: Moderated.
Can you imagine having had this conversation four years ago? That was when we had to get up a 6:00 to register in the two-hour window YACCS had open for new registrants so that they could keep up with the tide of nerdy bloggers wanting to add comment functonality to their blogs. And the only people who ever commented were people on your blogroll.
Time sure flies when you're having blog.