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How To Tell A Post Is Spam

Posted by on Jun 5, 2010

You know, I wouldn’t think that most people couldn’t identify spam when they see it. However, I’ve been to enough blogs and seen enough spam even on those blogs where people seem to usually monitor what’s going on in their comments area.

Heck, I know spam is getting pretty sneaky. Sometimes it’s hard to tell a good comment from a spam comment. If you’re not paying attention a new spam comment will show up on an old post, which is why I recently talked about making some posts private.

Still, you must be vigilant in fighting the great spam battle. If you don’t, not only will the spammers win, but those savvy visitors of yours that see you can’t tell spam from the real thing might decide to stay away. So, let’s see if I can help you out in some fashion.

1. Watch out for insulting spam. There are obviously trolls whose job, so they feel, is to make everyone else’s life miserable. Insulting spam is usually pretty easy to determine, though; it’s never on topic.

2. Watch for spam that’s not on topic. Maybe I should have started with this one, but I’m bringing it up now. There is spam that looks pretty good and you might miss it because you don’t read to the end. If a comment starts out intentionally evasive, it’s probably going to continue being so, or else it will introduce something that makes no sense whatsoever.

3. Set your spam filter to move a comment with even one link in it to your spam folder. Sure, every once in awhile you’re going to get a legitimate post in there, but what I’ve seen most often is someone following up a post with a link in it with a second post saying “hey, my post didn’t show up”, or something to that effect. I hope everyone checks their spam folders.

4. One line comments. Unless you know the person, you should probably just delete all of these anyway. Keeping something that says “nice post” is an insult to your blog, and is most probably spam.

5. Check out the email addresses. Most people aren’t using Hotmail anymore, but even if they are, if the name before “@” doesn’t make sense it’s probably spam. If the name you’re given is of one sex but the name in the email address is of another sex, it’s probably spam.

6. It used to be that spam didn’t come with images, but now it does. Make sure you read the comment instead of relying on the fact that there’s now a gravatar attached.

7. Now spam can come in your name. That used to be an easy tell as well, but some of the more sophisticated spam can read who the author of the post is and add it to their comment.

8. If the comment is written to the “webmaster”, it’s spam. Who really uses the term “webmaster” anymore anyway?

9. If the post is in another language and you’ve only ever written in one language, it’s most probably spam. Back in the day I used to copy some of those messages into translation websites to see if it was saying anything pertinent; just scrap it and move on.

10. Finally, if you’re not sure, even with these tips, you can always test the waters by sending an email to the email address. Write a short post saying something like “just seeing if this email is valid before I allow the comment on my blog.” If you get a rejection back, or heck, if you get nothing back, consider it spam and kill it. Even if it’s not really spam, if the person on the other end doesn’t respond, then they probably had no intentions of coming back to your blog, in which case you didn’t need their comment anyway.

I hope that helps. Of course, if you have Akismet on your blog it will help even more.

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yeah, some of the spammers are getting pretty smart. I’ve even had some that copy another commentators comment. Reckon that must be a script or something. Pretty dumb really as it’s pretty easy to pick up unless you’re asleep or something.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..The Importance Of Honesty In Blogging =-.

June 5th, 2010 | 11:10 AM

I actually noticed it on this blog, then one of the blogs I manage. That is an intriguing script, but you’re right, you have to be kind of asleep to miss it.

June 5th, 2010 | 11:26 AM

Yep, and I even remember once how something left a comment that had your avatar and I knew it wasn’t you because the comment was absolute crap.
.-= Sire´s last blog ..Cool Blog Links Top 10 Coolest Blogs =-.

June 5th, 2010 | 8:17 PM

I’d forgotten about that until you just mentioned it again. Yeah, that one was really freaky.

June 5th, 2010 | 8:48 PM

Oooh avatar stealing?? wtf! Okay they’re getting more desperate and more lame by the day!
.-= Kimberly Castleberry@Social Media for Beginners´s last blog ..Critical Review of Jonathan Budd’s MLM Launch Formula =-.

June 9th, 2010 | 5:03 PM

Good morning, Mitch and Sire,

I think this is an excellent topic for a post, because there are many people who have blogs now that welcome their first few comments and aren’t experienced enough to recognize some of the spam comments.

After awhile, they’re easier to discern, but, as you say, they’re getting more sophisticated and some are hard to tell from real comments.

If the spammers put half as much effort into keeping it real as they do in trying to find shortcuts, they could accomplish something worthwhile.

All the best,


(Who revels in using the archaic terms webmaster, lensmaster and dragon master to refer to himself. grin.)

June 6th, 2010 | 7:31 AM

Hi John,

You know, often it’s the use of the word “webmaster” that lets people know it’s spam, since hardly anyone uses the term anymore. I mean, for most blogs, you know the name of the person, but when you don’t, you wouldn’t call that person “webmaster”. lol

June 6th, 2010 | 12:23 PM

Hi Mitch,

I don’t know if that’s true or not. I know quite a few people who use webmaster (at their domain) email accounts and I still call people whose names I don’t know “webmaster.”

It’s probably out of style for bloggers, but for folks who do a lot more things with websites, I don’t think it’s an archaic and unused term.

But, of course, that’s totally off topic and I understand your point on how the word “webmaster” may, indeed, be an indication of spam on blog comments.

All the best,


June 7th, 2010 | 9:42 AM

John, I actually have webmaster at the bottom of the websites I manage, but in general I’d never write anyone on a blog calling them that. I mean, it’s easy enough to at least look to see the name of the person who wrote the post, or owns the blog.

June 7th, 2010 | 12:36 PM

I totally agree with you. I’d never write to anyone and address them as “webmaster.” I’d look for a real name, too. On blogs where I can’t find someone’s real name, it makes me stop and move on. I only want to converse with real people who don’t hide who they are.

June 8th, 2010 | 5:35 AM

I actually posted about this is one of my other blogs!

I had 2 spammers and when I went to their profiles, there was no information, and only “cartoonish” avatars.

One comment was all boxes with the word GPS near the end- the other was similar but had the word sex.

Both attacked numerous older posts.

Like John said…”If the spammers put half as much effort into keeping it real as they do in trying to find shortcuts, they could accomplish something worthwhile.”
.-= Carolee´s last blog ..Gaining and keeping momentum =-.

June 6th, 2010 | 9:23 AM

The spammers only care about the easy money, Carolee, and thus they’re kind of lazy marketers. And they think they’re going to get away with it because, for the most part, they do. I can’t believe how many blogs I visit for the first time that have all sorts of spam; some people just don’t care.

June 6th, 2010 | 12:25 PM

Many of these happens because of those auto-blogging plugins and paid plugs. I am suffering from a different problem with my emails. Some link building companies are generally sending out automated mails to me that look so original and personal requesting for guest posts etc. Basically they are after building links for their clients.

Nice post Mitch (and sorry to bring in the email topic here)
.-= Ajith Edassery´s last blog ..MaxBlogPress Ninja Affiliate Plugin Review & $30 Discount Coupon =-.

June 6th, 2010 | 10:10 AM

Hi Ajith,

Actually that’s not a bad point, because I get tons of those all the time myself. But when they don’t use my name, or I see that what they’re offering has nothing to do with what I write about, I either write back something sarcastic or just delete it; whatever my mood is that day.

June 6th, 2010 | 12:26 PM
Sue T:

I have a blog that allows me to moderate any spam that is posted. The spammers always chose an older post, I get an email and just hit reject. Really simple no garbage on my blog.

June 6th, 2010 | 5:09 PM

Yeah, but you were also having a “fight” with a piece of spam. lol

June 6th, 2010 | 5:41 PM

Now that’s a really useful list of pointers! It can be easy to fall into confusion because heck, they’re created to confuse (trick) us into approving them. Solid stuff m’friend!
.-= Kimberly Castleberry@Social Media for Beginners´s last blog ..Don’t Miss Digg’s Plans to Facilitate Viral Content! =-.

June 9th, 2010 | 5:01 PM

Thanks Kimberly. And you’re right, the stealing of avatars is the latest sneaky thing. I write for some other blogs and manage them as well, and I can’t believe how often the avatar being used is actually the image on the post. This stuff is really getting more sophisticated; once it learns names, we might all be in trouble.

June 9th, 2010 | 8:42 PM

Good post, and something I’ve been thinking about lately.

It’s not a brilliant idea to email someone to check if it’s spam or not because, if it is, you’ve then just got yourself added to a mailing list that will be sold on, probably many times.

Oh, and some of the one liners are from people who are pleasant enough but don’t really know the best thing to say or how to say it. I get a lot of these sorts of comments in my gallery pages but not so many in my blog.

So far Akismet catches all the spam. I’m happy with what it’s doing (so far, anyway).

.-= Val´s last blog ..Motherpearl =-.

June 22nd, 2010 | 11:52 AM

I don’t keep many one-liners if they’re fairly innocuous, which most are, unless I know the person. If it’s ambiguous, it’s deleted. After awhile, it gets easy to know what’s spam and what isn’t, even though it’s getting trickier.

June 22nd, 2010 | 12:02 PM