9 New Ways To Identify Spam On Your Blog

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving 2016 and I’m thinking that I’ve been writing a lot of long posts lately. Today, not only have I changed the date of the blog post (Wednesday’s post went to my business blog since it would have been my dad’s 85th birthday), but I’ve decided to shorten the post just a little bit.

Spam ... it's what's for dinner!
Creative Commons License Wandering Magpie via Compfight

It’s been a long time since I’ve written specifically on the topic of spam, just about 2 1/2 years, and even though a lot hasn’t changed as it regards spam, I knew I had more ways to help people identify when a comment is spam.

First, check out this post from September 2013 giving 9 ways to identify spam and then proceed… heck, read this one first, then go back to the other post; that makes more sense. lol Hopefully most of you know this already. If not, you can thank me later:

1. Multiple comments within a short period of time.

Sometimes you’ll get someone who’s visiting your blog, decides to read a bunch of your posts, and comments on a lot of them. When it’s legit, that’s pretty cool. When it’s not, it’s easy to tell.

If you’re looking at comments in your Admin panel, it tells you the time and date of a comment. If you have 2 or more comments from the same person within a minute or two, it’s spam. Think about how long it takes you to read someone’s blog post, let alone comment on it.

2. Many different names but the same email address

This one should be easy but a lot of people don’t pay attention to it. You might get multiple comments quickly, but if the spammers are savvy they’ll space these out.

3. Many different email addresses but all from the same IP address

You know easy it is to get a Gmail account? For that matter, you can fake an email address and link it to a real website or blog (sneaky punks). What you can’t fake unless you have specific software is the IP address, which is just under the email address in the Admin area.

4. The comment is directed at an image.

If you ever see an image in the area where it tells you which article someone is commenting on, it’s spam. Most of these comments are fake anyway and should be easy to spot, but you might not be paying attention, especially if you’ve got a lot of comments to go through.

5. Well written comment but doesn’t address anything in the post

not spam
not spam lol

These are pretty good comments… but they’re fake. Maybe 1 in 20 gets close enough to the topic where it looks legitimate, but if you’re paying attention you’ll realize that they haven’t addressed a single thing you wrote about.

6. Great comment… but there’s something familiar about it…

This one is tricky and even I’ve missed it a few times. The comment looks great and is on point with the topic. Just one thing; you think you’ve seen it before because the words seem familiar.

This in a great scam because it’s easily missed, especially if you have a lot of comments on your article. In essence, it takes either a portion of a comment someone else has written on the same post or copies the entire thing. If you’re not paying attention you’ll miss it and start responding to the comment. Sometimes while you’re doing this you’ll ask yourself “didn’t I say that before”?

7. Comments written in all caps

How many people do you know who write in all caps (well, my wife does it so I know one lol)? This usually denotes bad software that someone’s purchased. Since these comments usually don’t pertain to the article, they should be easy to spot.

8. Multiple links in the comment

On this blog, even one link in the comment sends it to spam because I use the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin. For most blogs, you can get away with popping in links without retribution, although a lot of spam will only pop in one link to try to improve their odds that you’re not paying attention. If it’s not someone you know, immediately move those comments to spam or remove the links without clicking on them; trust me, that’s the safest thing to do.

9. The comment uses your full name or states your name multiple times

Back in the day you knew a comment was good when they knew your name. These days, the spam software has gotten so good that it can scrape the name of the author of the article. If it uses your full name that should make it easy for you to know it’s a spam comment. If you see your name multiple times that’s another easy one to call. If it uses your name once… well, read the comment and ascertain whether you think it’s legit or not.

There you are, 9 more ways to tell if a comment is spam. Although I kind of indicated that most of these are automated, not all of them are. Some people are paid to drop the same comment on multiple blogs, which helps them get through your spam filters. The best rule of thumb is to view any comment that looks even a bit dodgy as spam and delete it. If the person comes back and asks where their comment went, you can deal with it then. If not, you can feel pretty good that it was fake to begin with (I’ve never had anyone in all these years come back to ask about a missing comment that was truly spam; just sayin…).

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Bad Comments/Spam The Same?

A couple of weeks ago I had to do something I hadn’t thought about doing in a long while. I had to turn on the Akismet spam plugin once again after a major increase in the number of spam messages I was starting to get. I had hoped that the GASP Anti-Spambot plugin would have taken care of all of that, but it seems people have found their way around it.

I’m eating a cupcake;
don’t ask lol

Even with both programs running, spam is at an all time high for me. It’s not unexpected as the ranking of this blog moves higher, and I don’t think it’s gotten to the level where it’s driving me as crazy as it does some of my friends, who often go to extreme measures trying to kill it, even turning off comments sometimes, which I don’t like as you know.

Part of the problem, of course, are what are considered “bad comments”. On my 1,200th post back in January I mentioned a conversation I had with Adrienne Smith and her contention that some comments aren’t worth keeping on your blog and that she just gets rid of them so that she can respond to everyone else and show a 100% response rate on her blog. What we both believe is that there are a number of people paid to post comments and have links going back to other sites, and most of these people are paid so little that it’s all in the numbers for them, not the quality of the comment.

This begs the question as to whether bad comments and spam are the same thing. It can be a volatile question to respond to because the kneejerk response is “yes”. And yet, I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet where I consider the two as symbiotic 100% of the time.

I’ve read some bad comments with a lot of grammatical errors and thought that it might be spam, but the comment was touching upon the subject matter so I follow the CommentLuv link back to its source and see the same type of writing on the blog. Suddenly that’s not a bad comment, just someone with lousy writing skills.

Is a bad comment a one-liner? Well, that’s up for grabs because I’ve been told by some people that on some of my posts I really don’t leave much for anyone to say if they agree with me on the topic. Frankly I buy that argument only half the time because I’ve always been able to comment on a blog with more than a one liner and make sure the author knows I read the post. But not everyone can do that so how does one judge that? I do judge those posts, and I eliminate a lot of them, just so you know, but not all of them.

What makes a bad comment is almost the same thing as what makes spam. Ergo, some highlights:

* Repeating the title of the post in the comment

* Repeating specific phrases from the content without adding anything new to it

* Writing something so generic that it applies to everything and nothing at the same time

* Writing a lot of nonsense and then popping my name in somehow; that’s pretty sneaky

* Trying to slip a link in that has nothing to do with the topic but everything to do with linking back to your site; isn’t CommentLuv enough for you?

* Writing one comment that looks passable, immediately followed by another comment that’s from the same IP address on the same post; what could you be thinking?

I think that’s enough to think about. Here’s the big question up for debate; do you think bad comments and spam are the same thing? The secondary question is what do you do about it?

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Responding To Comments… Sigh…

Sometimes it seems like I spend a lot of time writing about the importance of two things regarding blogs; writing good comments and responding to comments. Sometimes it seems like a great cause; sometimes it seems like a lost cause.

Good comments help everyone. They help the writer because the writer knows you understood their words. It helps other people who see your comments because it gives them something to think about as well, and encourages them to comment. And it helps you, the commenter, because you not only show people you have something to say, but of course there’s that all important link back to your site.

Responding to comments helps as well. It shows you’re engaged in the process with others. It shows you honor what they have to say. It shows that you didn’t just pop something up and move on to the next story. And it helps to show that you also know what you’re talking about, in case someone thinks you had another person writing your content; not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😉

Sadly, it seems the lessons aren’t taking very well. It seems that myself and Sire are beating our heads against the wall. I mean, even on posts where we talk about the importance of leaving good comments we get horrible comments. That’s just a shame.

Every once in awhile you have an epiphany, of sorts. I’ve got one now; actually, I’ve been thinking about it for a couple of days. I’ve decided that I’m not responding to every comment anymore. I have a comment policy that I thought would handle everything; seems that was a wishful panacea.

Maybe the problem is just that some people really don’t understand the concept of what a good or bad comment is. Maybe they don’t understand that punctuation is a big part of writing a good comment. Capitalization, spacing between sentences after a period, not forgetting to include words to finish a thought in a sentence… what, they don’t teach grammar anywhere anymore?

So it’s time to make a stand; actually, three stands.

One, if your comment is borderline and doesn’t help advance the topic, I won’t be responding to it. Most probably you don’t care if that’s the type of comment you’ve left, but I’m stating it for the world.

Two, from this point on, if I see that the image and name and email address somehow don’t fit, I’m either removing the comment or the link. If your name is “Sue” and your avatar is a pretty woman but your email name says “John”, that’s a red flag; not having it. For that matter, if I see a “John” but your email address says “Bob”, or something like that, I’m doing the same thing. That is, unless I know you or at some point you prove to me you’re real and have a reason for doing it (because I know a lot of folks in other countries will give you a different name than their own because of translation issues).

And three, if I see multiple messages from the same website under different names, all of them will be pulled from this point on. Not specifically picking on them, but there’s some site called travel.wisconsin.us that may or may not be legit that sometimes leaves multiple messages on different blog posts but each one has a different person’s name and a different person’s email address. Some comments look legit, some don’t, but often they come at the same time so I’m treating them as spam. They’re not the only one, only the most recent.

Of course, once I know you and we’ve established a rapport of sorts, I go more lenient. After all, I know that some posts don’t offer up a good opportunity for a great comment. But I think I give a lot here; not only a lot of pretty good information but everyone gets a dofollow link, and I don’t make anyone register so you get your 10 choices for CommentLuv.

I have time issues as well but I think it’s more important to work towards having a good community standard; am I wrong on this?

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