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Fake Commenter Names

Posted by on Oct 11, 2009

I’ve been thinking about the use of fake blog commenter names a lot lately. Actually, I’ve thought about it before, and probably for a long time. I really started thinking about it a lot more after I wrote my post on the person who was hiding behind a fake name and defaming the model; she got hers in the end. Earlier in the summer I also wrote on the anonymity of bloggers and how I will agree that, sometimes, a blogger has to keep their name secret to protect themselves, but how generally I don’t believe that’s the way to go.

I’ve also written many times on leaving valuable comments instead of throwaway comments. One such post was about commenting and not wasting people’s time with a terrible comment. Another post was a little rant about why it behooves you to comment on other blogs. People appreciate when you comment on their blogs, and if they like it you might get some love back; who doesn’t like that?

Anyway, back to this name thing. I’m someone who likes to respond back to people who leave pretty good comments on my blog. I don’t expect perfection, but I expect realism. I know to delete all those posts that ask me where I got my theme, especially when I haven’t ever written a post about blog themes here (well, that’s not quite true; I did write one that was more about gravatars than themes but mentioned it, and another one reminding people to move things after changing their theme, but that’s it).

When I don’t have a name to respond to, I feel a little bit silly if I want to comment and I have to use the fake name, which I know some people like to refer to as a keyword name. I will often look at the email address to see if there’s a name there, and if so I’ll respond to that email name and leave the keyword name. If not, then I change the keyword name to only initials, then I’ll comment on it. But that takes time that I shouldn’t have to deal with.

I’m easily not alone on this one. There are posts galore from people about hating keyword names, such as this one from Neil Shearing, this one from Success Creations, and this one from Blogging Startup. There was even a post from Remarkablogger on writing keywords in comment posts that I thought was very good. Even my friend Sire addresses this in his comment policy.

I’ve always deleted links in comments that have nothing to do with the topic I wrote on. They’re not needed; this always tells me that some folks have no idea what CommentLuv is all about, which they see at the bottom of every post. If you’re writing from a blog, CommentLuv will go and find your last blog post and add it automatically. If you go to the CommentLuv site and sign up for an account, it will find your last 10 and you get to select which one you want to highlight. I mean, that’s just a great thing.

If you’re not writing from a blog, then just post the link you want in where it asks for your domain address, and you’re good to go. I don’t have a real problem with that, unless it’s a TinyURL or to a site that’s easy to discern as bad; I will delete those, and have. I hate hidden links as a general rule, and it’s one of the things about Twitter that makes me wary at times.

Why do people use keywords as their comment name anyway? It seems that many years ago some people were writing and saying that it would help them with their SEO efforts to do it. Gang, that’s just not true. It only helps if you’re doing it on your own blog or website. By putting it on mine, all you’re doing it either helping or hurting me if your name does or does not equate to the topic I’ve just written about. And it generates a lot of spam; many other folks seem to say that they get way more blog commenting spam when they’ve been allowing fake names, and I do get quite a bit.

I’ve given people who comment on my blog a lot of benefits. I’ve added CommentLuv. I’ve made this a dofollow blog, which means you’ll get your little bit of juice by commenting. And I don’t turn comments off after a certain point in time either. I even respond to almost every comment (I mean, there’s a point at which I might have to determine who gets the last word, and it’s not always going to be me). All I ask is for a little bit of decorum coming back.

So, from today on, I ask everyone to at least give me a real name that I can respond to before you write your keyword name, if you really feel that you have to do it. Either that or put your real name at the end of your comment, which our friend Steve of Trade Show Guru fame does. It helps us develop a relationship, and keeps me from having to go in and edit names. And, if you can, use CommentLuv or the domain name area for your links, unless you’re adding a link in your comment to add to the discussion at hand.

From today on, I will be reducing those keyword names without a real name preceding it to one letter; if I’m going to work, I’m going to make it easy on myself. And we’ll proceed from there. I think it’s fair, and so would our friend Dennis, who also wrote a fairly good comment policy, which at the time I thought was pretty tough.

And there we go. Something for a Sunday morning before football starts, where I’m hoping my Cowboys will remember why they’re known as America’s team and actually starts playing some better football.

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Jon McDowell:

I’ve seen so many blogs with comments with keyword on the name field. Though I know that it would be very helpful on blog owners, I’ve read before that it isn’t advisable to use a keyword name. Despite of that, blog owners continuously doing lots of spam comments just to get useful link. But, how true that these links are really useful? All I can say is that, most blog owners are after of their time in building links, not after to the value of tall links.

October 11th, 2009 | 12:07 PM

Hi Jon,

One can build links to their blogs by just putting in links; the keyword names don’t make any sense whatsoever. I have to say that most people do post some pretty good comments here, so that’s not as big an issue with me. I just like to feel I know who I’m talking with.

October 11th, 2009 | 1:59 PM

Mitch, I understand your thoughts and I must admit that I have been also using a keyword including this comment. But I always put my real name at the end of my comment like a signature. IMHO why cant you try the keywordluv plugin, which I am sure gives you the option of posting your name as well as the keyword. I have enabled it in my blog as soon as I started to get vague feeling of responding to people like hi “las vegas real estate”, hi “online poker”…. I know you reply to almost all of the comments posted here. That is hell lot of a job. Please let me know your thoughts and feedback.

Mack McMillan
.-= Las Vegas Real Estate´s last blog ..Commercial Real Estate Bubble =-.

October 12th, 2009 | 1:08 AM

Hi Mack,

I’ve added lots of plugins for folks, but that’s one I just didn’t like. You do include your name, but others don’t, and it just tends to smack of being impersonal. I just couldn’t figure out the benefit for anyone, and, well, I’m not sure you’ve read all my posts here, but it’s another plugin that doesn’t play well with other plugins. Even Sire was running it for awhile and found he was having problems with it and removed it. Also, you don’t think I’m already giving a lot to my commenters that I deserve to withhold one thing? Just asking.

Besides, wouldn’t you find it easier typing “Mack” than Las Vegas Real Estate?

October 12th, 2009 | 3:24 AM
Mack McMillan:

Your views are reasonable Mitch. I do agree. I have those plugings enabled in my blog and I dont find any hassles. But as you suggest having either one of them will do and I appreciate your efforts on trying to give back something for your viewers.
.-= Mack McMillan´s last blog ..Commercial Real Estate Bubble =-.

October 12th, 2009 | 3:37 AM

Thanks Mack; I appreciate it. Course, now we have to work on getting you a gravatar. lol

October 12th, 2009 | 9:21 AM

It is your blog. You’re the host and we’re your guests. Like any party, I think decorum, as you’ve stated, applies.

Since you bring up the topic, however, there’s something that would be nice for you to consider in addition to all the other criteria.

Can’t say I speak for all women, but some of us do prefer our degrees of anonymity online.

On my sites, I have my full out home address and phone number but when I’m posting to blogs that aren’t in my niche and I’m just hanging…well, I like the layer of privacy that my “handle” typically allows me.

In fact, Mitch, you were the first blogger I’ve seen who reverted to the use of my name (my fault I guess, since I’m using my personal e-mail…another indicator of non-spammeriness).

Since I’ve never mentioned my sites, I now understand that – based on your criteria – you may have thought it was a keyword. But then again, I don’t think I’ve ever used the Website field in comments nor have I mentioned a site when posting here.

But really, there’s a LOT of “ish” to think about as a blogger: content, admin, promo, etc.

Whatever rules you want apply.

If your posters don’t like it, then they can post elsewhere.

~ malted_tea 😉

October 11th, 2009 | 1:40 PM

Interesting stuff, Natasha.

Truthfully, I’m not so bent on the name being valid. If people still want to add some anonymity to themselves, then they can come up with a name that I can call them, even if it’s a nickname. Like Sire; everyone knows that’s not his name, and if you saw my post on checking out one’s name online, you know I wasn’t born with the name Mitch, but it’s what everyone calls me (heck, it’s what most male “Mitchells” are called). You have to admit, calling you Natasha is a lot easier for me to identify with you than my calling you “malted tea”, but you could always go with Tasha or Betty or Lucretia or Heather or Catfish (okay, that was what my grandfather used to call me) or anything else. I really don’t need to know exactly who someone is, unless their email address bounces back, in which case I’d just figure it was a fake name and probably delete the post anyway.

By the way, I understand the need for anonymity here and there. For a couple of years, I had a personal blog where I used a pseudonym rather than my real name because, well, it was personal. I didn’t want any of those thoughts crossing into my business world. Once I created this blog, though, I decided to drop that other one. I figured if it bothers me enough, I’ll write about it here, and get whatever benefits I can out of it. If it doesn’t bother me enough to write about it, then I’ll just leave it alone.

October 11th, 2009 | 2:06 PM

I have no problems with blog owners allowing “keyword names” – I’m just not one of them 🙂 And that’s pretty much for the same reason as you mention. It makes it look “impersonal” and I can’t help to think if the commentator only commented in order to get the (possible) SEO backlink for those keywords.

I hope you don’t consinder my name as a “keyword name”? I’m only adding “@ TechPatio” for “branding”, I haven’t really started commenting on behalf of my 2nd blog yet (ApplePatio), and I’m not too happy about having my full name indexed in hundreds of google pages because of blog comments (not that I’m hiding anything, WHOIS on my blog will reveal everything).
.-= Klaus @ TechPatio´s last blog ..Learn How To Launch & Make An Income From Membership Sites =-.

October 11th, 2009 | 7:48 PM

Hi Klaus,

No, your name is fine because you give me a name I can call you. That’s all I ask, I don’t really mind what follows it.

As for the rest, branding makes a lot of sense, but some of the names people use aren’t branding, but specifically keywords. At least yours is the name of your blog.

October 11th, 2009 | 8:05 PM

Hi Mitch,
I’m quite new here so I hope you could spare me using this pseudonym. I have my real name on my blog’s “about” page though so you know that I’m a real person. On my dofollow blog, having keywords on the name field doesn’t bother me as long as the comment stays relevant. It’s obvious if the commenter doesn’t read the post and just simply leave a comment to get backlink.

I admire your sensitivity on this issue and your straight-forward statements on this.
.-= Mathdelane ´s last blog ..Moving Ahead After Webhosting Hassles =-.

October 11th, 2009 | 9:48 PM

Hi Mathdelane,

Whether that’s your name or not, it’s a name that I can use to call you, and thus I’m not mad at it in any way, shape or form. It at least gives me an opportunity to personally address you, and I appreciate that. I think most people will.

October 11th, 2009 | 10:40 PM

Totally reasonable thing to ask for Mitch. Given that Blogs are there for social interacting not to mention providing social proof that you are a real person doing real stuff – anyone who tries to hide behind something clearly has something to hide.

I’ve had more comments from viagra sites in the last week than anyone else and its really starting to get on my t****

.-= Peter Davies´s last blog ..Hitting a Brick Wall and Getting Back To The Drawing Board……….. =-.

October 12th, 2009 | 5:28 AM

Hi Peter,

I’ve been getting lots of Russian spam lately for whatever reason. It’s happened before, then dropped off, so I expect it to start dropping off again. Isn’t Askimet a wonderful thing?

October 12th, 2009 | 9:22 AM
John Dilbeck:

Good morning, Mitch.

I know where you are coming from.

I’m getting to the point where I may just start deleting comments that don’t give me a name I can use to reply to them.

For awhile, I’ve been using the initials of their keywords or handles, but I’m getting tired of that.

As you say, I want to at least feel that I’m talking to a real person.

On one of my social networking sites, I’ve started requiring members to use their real names instead of handles, keywords, business names, or whatever.

It was hard at first and several members didn’t want to do it. I gave them a choice of complying or being deleted.

Some got angry, but all of them, except one, complied. I deleted the one who didn’t.

It has not been much of a problem ever since and now we can get to know each other as real people.

Interestingly enough, the people who complained the most participate the least. It’s pretty obvious that they just wanted a link to their business and were not really interested in becoming an active part of the community.

I know that’s different than a blog, but I think the same principles apply.

I applaud you for taking a stand on this.

By the way, Catfish, my dad called me Firecracker because I was born on July 1 and brought home from the hospital on July 4.

How did you get the name Catfish?


Act on your dream!


October 12th, 2009 | 6:41 AM

Hi John,

I’m not really sure why my grandfather called me that. I know he was a big time fisherman, but none of the other grandkids got nicknames like that. Sometimes I wonder if it was because he might not have remembered my name, since he rarely saw me. 🙂

October 12th, 2009 | 9:24 AM
John Dilbeck:

You may be right.

Your grandfather may have belonged to the Don Johnson/Sonny Crockett school of speaking. If you call all the guys Bubba and all the girls Darling, it makes it a lot easier, especially when you can’t remember someone’s name – something I run into more now than I used to.

I was just wondering if you had long, slimy whiskers when you were a kid.


(Grinning, ducking, and running; laughing and zig-zagging all the way!)


PS. Hmmm. Maybe those people who don’t indicate their name are old enough that they don’t remember it.

PPS. You can call me JD, John, Hey You!, or pretty much whatever you want, but only my real brother gets away with calling me Bubba. The only people who call me Darling these days are waitresses when they’re refilling my coffee cup.

October 12th, 2009 | 4:07 PM

Those are same women calling me “darling” also, John. 😉

October 12th, 2009 | 5:19 PM

Hey Mitch,
Thanks for making an “exception” for me. Makes me think I’m an “exceptional” person! 🙂
I wrote a post a while back about sneaky “generic spam comments”, like “I like your theme, where did you get it.” They piss me off too! And like you, I want a real name somewhere in the comment that I can respond to. ~ Steve, the spam-hating trade show guru
.-= Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..Are Trade Shows Obsolete? =-.

October 12th, 2009 | 2:55 PM

Hi Steve,

Actually, I’m not making an exception for you, though I’m giving you this post and the one you wrote on another post before I wrote this one. You can still have Trade Show Guru, but I have to ask you to put your name before that from now on. At this point, it wouldn’t be fair to hold you to a different standard than I’m holding Mack to.

Besides, you like sharing your name, so let everyone see it prominently!

October 12th, 2009 | 5:16 PM

hi Mitch,
Understood! Hopefully my cookie for your blog updates with my “correct name” and it’s done. 🙂 ~ Steve | Trade Show Guru
.-= Steve | Trade Show Guru´s last blog ..Are Trade Shows Obsolete? =-.

October 12th, 2009 | 7:29 PM

I agree with you. Putting in Keywords only when commenting on a blog is not very nice. However, Keywordluv is an awesome tool that helps both the blogger and the commenter to get what they want. And if someone still only puts a keyword in when there’s Keyword-luv installed his/her comment should be deleted.
.-= Jan@punks´s last blog ..Medical makeup =-.

October 13th, 2009 | 9:42 AM

Hi Jan,

Thanks for jumping in. I’ve had problems with too many plugins messing up the blog. I wrote about it in September, having to go through every single plugin I had to figure out which ones were messing up all 3 of my blogs. If I ever add another plugin, it’s going to have to survive the tests first.

However, I just don’t like Keyword plugin, and, as you saw in another comment I wrote, a friend of mine tried it for awhile and he decided he didn’t like it either. We don’t all like the same things, it seems.

October 13th, 2009 | 9:51 AM

I think a comment policy is well worth the time invested in writing it.

I need to port my one over from my old site but it basically had the same sentiments as what you’ve described here, especially that of using a real name.

Again, I’m with you on the fact that I want a real name but not necessarily the persons actual name if they want a level of anonymity then an alternative name is acceptable, just not a name filled with keywords.

.-= Karl Foxley´s last blog ..BlogEngage Can Make You A Better Blogger (And Bring You Lots Of Visitors)! =-.

November 22nd, 2009 | 7:30 AM

Hi Karl,

Thanks for the post, and for the agreement. I try to keep thing as simple as possible for everyone, and I like to be communal as well.

November 22nd, 2009 | 10:14 AM

Hey Dennis,

That was me thinking you were too tough; it’s still a tougher policy than mine. lol

November 22nd, 2009 | 6:45 PM

Hi, my name’s Val – as you’ll see! Interesting post (or is it a page? I surfed into it from a link you posted in another post here. Now I know how people feel when I do that! I’ve been hopping from one tab to another reading your linked posts!)

So far, touch wood (looks for some wood to touch – ah, under the formica-topped table, that’ll do) I’ve not had keywords in place of names, unless you count usernames? WordPress/blogspot usernames are often very anonymous especially when the people behind them don’t include a name. I try (but often forget) if I’m posting via my blog URL to include my first name, but when I forget, people call me ‘oldbird’ as many don’t like the ‘absurd’ bit!

I’ve also got a commenting policy, though my blog readership is smaller than yours (I’d think) as mine’s less… I dunno, less commercial? Anyway, I moderate all my comments and so I get to choose whose get in and whose don’t. And I have edited a few of them, mostly those which not only have a link back to their blog in their gravicon/usericon, but then put an extra link in their comment. Just like you, I don’t like comments that don’t relate to the post their purporting to be replying to. So if someone posts a link to a post in their blog or someone else’s that’s related to what I’ve written, then that’s fine. If not – then nope, I’m not having it there!

Anyway, nice to meet you. I’ve not read many of your posts yet (apart from the one/s that brought me over to this one) but have you in my feed reader now so will read more. I am also one for replying to comments. Oh – and interesting to discover the ‘commentluv’ thingy. Don’t know if I’ll use it myself or not, but it’s nice that it’s here.
Now to try and get back to your post that I was originally going to comment on!
.-= Val´s last blog ..Motherpearl =-.

June 22nd, 2010 | 10:59 AM

Glad to see you as a first time visitor, Val. I like being able to call someone a name, and if it’s a nickname, I don’t mind that. I do get a lot of those keyword names, and overall I don’t mind, but some of them are kind of silly. I’ll go in and edit the name if the post makes sense and leave it on the blog.

Truth be told, most people don’t need to check out the comment policy. But for those who have alternate agendas, as you mentioned, you’d think they’d care enough, if they plan on coming back at least, to see what it says.

Duck Billed Platitudes; that’s classic! 😀

June 22nd, 2010 | 11:48 AM

Oh, I’m addicted to checking out all the pages and posts I can when I find someone’s blog that I think I’m gonna be able to get into – and I’ve gotta tell you I’m also into bloggers who are able to post good comments and replies to comments… so, here I am!

Duck Billed Platitudes! If only I’d realised when I got my blog, though, that I should’ve made the URL the same as the blog name not my username!! (I keep wondering if it’s too late to change it or if it’d throw the brains of everyone who’s already got it, out of kilter.

Did that even make sense??
.-= Val´s last blog ..Motherpearl =-.

June 22nd, 2010 | 5:42 PM

Actually, it did make sense. At this juncture, like you, I’d leave it alone because people know where to find you. That, plus since you’re on a free platform, you’d kind of miss out on the SEO benefits anyway.

June 23rd, 2010 | 1:32 AM

Hey Mitch, what I find amazing is that you wrote this post last year and I’ve only just got the trackback to it, and they say snail mail is slow 😀

As you know my blog uses keywordluv and yet people still use keywords instead of names when that plugin allows them to use both. Some even use multiple keywords! Depending on the comment I’ll either delink, delete or spam those comments.

July 31st, 2010 | 6:49 PM

That is odd, Sire. Over time I’ve allowed keywords as long as I get a real name first, but I often wonder if the people whose names I make as all letters notice at all. It does prove they’re not reading the commenting policy, that’s for sure.

July 31st, 2010 | 6:59 PM

Not only are they missing the comment policy but on my blog they have even missing the instructions on the comment form and there is no excuse for that.

July 31st, 2010 | 7:39 PM

True, but it gives us our excuse to delete if we need to.

July 31st, 2010 | 7:48 PM

First of all, you don’t have to use your full name, just first name. That’s not going to give anything too personal away. Also, how are you going to know if the person is using their real name or not? They could be using someone elses name and you’d never know it.

February 24th, 2011 | 2:18 AM
Mitch Mitchell:

You’re right Don, all one needs to use is their first name. And truthfully, I don’t really care whether it’s their real name or not, just a name I can actually use instead of something like “car deals here” as a name; I’m not having that.

February 24th, 2011 | 9:57 AM