Who doesn't enjoy ranting about spammers? But what about bloggers who not only approve spam comments but actually eat their spam by replying? Please stop.
Increasing your comment count with spam helps no one. You end up looking like someone who doesn't care enough to read comments. Or worse someone who takes all comments at face value. We need to give readers content that adds value, and that includes comments. After all, reader dialog is one of the reasons people visit blogs.
"Commentators will often expand your thoughts, complement specific topics and offer another point of view, enriching your articles." - Daily Blog Tips
I've written several article on spam prevention. Only once did I knowingly communicate with a human spammer. I used the experience to give tips on how to spot clueless spammers and to show the frustration and resolve on both sides.
I have a spam filter so why should I not reply to every comment?
Askimet is a well-known spammer filter that automatically disapproves spammy comments, 'learns over time' and has a 95% accuracy rate. I seriously respect their filtering engine, which scans comments in real time. The site in the image above shows over 182,000 of those critters were corralled in the spam queue during several years of blogging.
If a comment passes Askimet's spam filter it's called 'ham'.Even the best filter can let a spammer through. Your comments may not be all 'ham', but include a good amount of spam. The 'nutrition facts' image is a playful way of illustrating the value of a comment.
How useful do you think this comment is to a serious site about free society:
Comment by Toilet Seat on 7 February 2012: "really useful articles for me"
For the past couple of years, Blogger's default commenting system has been filtering comments, in a 'learning' mode similar to Askimet. Other third-party commenting systems like Disqus provide spam zapping services. These systems learn when you tell them a comment is spam by sending it to the Spam queue. Don't just 'trash' spam comments that slip through.
It's depressing to see a spam queue of over 500 comments but you should permanently delete them every so often. After that you can scan down the few as they come in and see if you recognize a reader's avatar (false positive). Again, the filter learns when you un-spam the comment. You can also automatically delete spam on comments over 30 days old. I'd like to see an options where the blog owner can decide on a different time period.
I love that Askimet has a pop-up preview of the site when you hover over the commentator's url --- amazingly you can tell it's a one page site looking for back links. I also notice spammers no longer seek other blog posts that you may have 'forgotten'. Instead they must enroll in RSS feeds and go after the most recent post!Akismet monitors millions of blogs and forums, watching the methods and tricks used by spammers.
Spammers and You
Why do Spammers go to such trouble to spam your site? Often bloggers don't have spam filters and rely on the WP or Blogger option to moderate every comment. Others select moderation that exempts anyone who has at least one approved comment already. So if a spammer gets approved with one ingenuous and/or ingenious comment, then he can spam to his heart's content. That is unless the blogger is vigilant and doesn't blindly reply 'thanks.' I say one site where the spam comment appeared every month on the same post --- almost to a word. The site owner continued to eat spam by replying!
Some points to remember:
- Don't be penny wise and pound foolish. Askimet used to be free for all WP blogs but if it's not a personal blog you need to subscribe and pay $5/mo for a single site. It's worth $5 to see if there is a difference in published spam comments --- you can unsubscribe at any time. Personal blog signup gives you a field to indicate how much you want to pay yearly, starting at $0 to $120/yr. Now that's pulling at your heart-strings, conscience, etc ...
- It reflects negatively on you if a reader clicks on an obvious 'sale' site that screams 'buy my product'. Hey, you have your own ads to at least get some cash if the reader clicks.. lol Also, some of those sites may have harmful content.
- Spammers have a strong network and employ/exploit people to plant those bombs/gems on your site. They want to stay under your radar but often give themselves away with poor language skills, blatant list of keywords or urls, and talk about things unrelated to your blog post!
- Not all spammers are 'idiotic' --- some are intelligent marketers paid to promote a site. These pests don't use the same design for a dozen one-page sites. They spend time making the remarks include your content in some way. Often the giveaway is the use of keywords for the name, instead of John Smith with a picture avatar.
- If you suspect a spam comment, you can use google to search for that text. It's surprising how many blogs may have published the same comment with different name and url! Take this quote for example which I came across in Shane's Tobacco Road Blues site:
Thanks for every other informative web site. Where else may I am getting that kind of information written in such a perfect manner? ...
He realized this was spam. How? Well maybe he took the phrase to Google or had read it somewhere else. If you look at the author links they go to one-page sites which paid someone to 'market' them by getting 'back links.' This is just the top 3 in the results list --- busy bees...
Your Turn - Leave a comment with some ham!